|Sarah Brightman singing with the stars|
My friend Marc is arguably songstress Sarah Brightman's number one fan.
He has attended now five of her concerts, including in Melbourne in 2004 where he shouted out, "Sarah I love you!" and got the attention of reporters who offered up their press pass so he could go backstage and speak to her for five minutes and get a much cherished photograph with her.So when I saw an ad in a magazine here saying she was coming to Macau on October 24, I immediately told Marc who was very excited as he happened to be coming to Hong Kong around the same time.
However despite the advertising, tickets weren't available for sale for a few weeks which was a bit frustrating. Eventually he and his friend got tickets and were set to come, but his friend dropped out at the last minute and Marc asked me to come. After hemming and hawing, I finally agreed, and why it took me so long to make up my mind I will never understand why.
We met up at 4pm in Sheung Wan and managed to get on the 4:30pm ferry which he was pleased about, as he had gotten tickets for 5pm. He kept updating his Facebook status about the impending concert.
When we got on the shuttle bus to the Venetian, we studied our coupon books and saw two-for-one steak at the Blue Frog restaurant which we made a beeline for (and taking pictures along the way).
We had just enough time to head to the loo one more time before getting to our seats inside the Cotai Arena, a pretty big stadium-like space.
The stage wasn't very large and it didn't have a catwalk like her previous shows as Marc pointed out. Nevertheless it seemed like there was enough space for a pretty decent-sized orchestra and a large screen above them.
After 7pm, the orchestra members filed in and then the lights lowered. The conductor dressed in a tuxedo came out and led the orchestra in an opening number. According to Marc, all her concerts start like this.
Then she appeared, walking on stage in a dark-coloured evening gown, followed by two white ones. And her voice? It's amazing. It's very clear and strong, lyrical and warm. She can sing classical to pop. The program included such songs as Nessun Dorma, He doesn't see me, Scarborough Fair, Stranger in Paradise, and Ave Maria.
All the songs were accompanied by videos projected above her, many of them not having much to do with what she was singing which was a bit strange.
And to the delight of fans she of course sang Phantom of the Opera in a ravishing red dress with a guest tenor.
Her "last" song was Time to say goodbye, though she came back after a quick costume change into a black dress.
After someone did a wolf whistle, Marc shouted, "You're looking hot, Sarah!" And she does, for someone having recently turned 50 in August -- August 14 to be exact.
Earlier in the show he also shouted, "We love you Sarah!" and she replied, "Thank you".
"She always says that," Marc observed with a knowing smile.
While she strives to sound like her CD it's too bad she doesn't try to veer from the script too much, which is probably highly produced. It's also a pity she doesn't speak too much to her audience. Perhaps it's because it's really strange hearing her speaking voice which is very clipped compared to her singing voice.
Nevertheless she is an excellent performer who hit all her notes perfectly and with a lot of energy.
So it was shocking to hear a couple in front of us in the standby line for the ferry back to Hong Kong say they were disappointed with the concert.
The young Hong Kong Chinese woman said that she had seen Brightman's concert last year in Hong Kong and expected the same kind of special effects and dancers.
Marc was horrified to hear a "fan" would say this and defended Brightman, trying to explain that most of the time her concerts are like the ones we just saw and it's only when she releases an album and does a world tour does she put on a big production number.
They complained that the had spent a lot of money on tickets and so they expected more, including the 3D hologram effect they saw last year. However, Marc the superfan explained that this concert was probably a last minute add-on to her tour dates in Japan and it was interesting to have her with an orchestra and perform many of her old numbers instead of new material.
"In the end you're paying to see Sarah, not the visual effects," he said.
But the young couple could not be convinced.
Ah, discerning Hong Kong aficionados can't be reasoned into realizing they are all caught up in the special effects and recognizing a true talent when they see it.
In any event she thrilled me with her crystal-clear voice and her ability to cover many singing genres in one concert. She also makes the music accessible to many more people who would otherwise feel intimidated if it was completely classical.
Complete with good looks it sounds like a winning combination.