Well, I wanted to take a bit of time before joining in this discussion. I was very tired - we sat chatting at the hotel till 4.30 and then I woke up at 7.30 and to be honest, I don't think my brain is fully awake even now
I have read through all the other reviews and feel very sad that the Alan Moore controversy seems to be dominating the discussion. For me it was an interlude - a chance to catch my breath after having spent most of the afternoon running around, trying to get the party room sorted, helping on the merch stand etc. So I have to admit I sort of zoned out - rather as I do in church when a certain very boring vicar reads his sermon. I couldn't actually hear his words that well to be honest - it may have been because he spoke too close to the mic or maybe his accent wasn't so familiar to me - but I did find some of it quite amusing. I had my two teenage sons with me and the content didn't bother me - I have always been open with them about things like homosexuality etc. But as the band were positively encouraging us to bring our families - offering 1p tickets for under 18's and £10 tickets for under 25's - I can see some people's viewpoints. But to be honest I had virtually forgotten about the poem by the end of the evening.
For me the evening was about two things only - most importantly THE MUSIC
and secondly about friendship.
I can't put into words how wonderful the music was and how transformed it was with the addition of the orchestra. I have seen them once or twice this year (!!!) as most people here will know - but they excelled themselves on Saturday. From the first note of the timpani for Judgement until the final note of Land of Hope And Glory I was totally enthralled. Everything else disappeared into the background. I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion, shivers down my spine and butterflies in my stomach. It was a very emotional occasion.
The band played their socks off - and there is really nothing like the sound of a real orchestra. You can electronically recreate it very well these days - but it's just not the same. I was sitting slap bang in the middle of Row L and I think Hailey had found me the perfect seat, acoustically and visually. (Thanks hun! x) The sound was spot on. Kudos to Billy - who told me afterwards that it had been a technical nightmare getting everything working - especially the feed to the Abbey Road truck for the live recording - and so they didn't even have time to do a proper soundcheck.
Nic had been unwell all week - but you would never have known it - your eyes are constantly drawn to him. Jason played beautifully and I had no problem hearing him. Occasionally the orchestra was a little louder - but not when it mattered. Max was in fine voice - Dave was a real powerhouse, and I am always amazed by his ability to change time so often. How many drummers could ever cope with The Enid's material? And of course Robert was in his element. The Lovers was so beautiful with the orchestra behind it and for me one of the highlights was watching him watch the CBSO bring The Art of Melody to life for him.
I did think that the choir could have been used more - and were a little quiet at time - but they only had ONE rehearsal together so I was very impressed. I would have liked to have had them doing the "ah ah ah" bits of Mockingbird for example. Would have liked the Decibelles to have been a bit louder too.
Sean Montgomery brought that organ to life! Wow! Didn't it sound great! I am very partial to pipe organs and it certainly shook the foundations.
I must also mention Toby Hanson. Toby lives at The Lodge and along with Mike Lawrence works as one of The Enid's road crew. He is also one of the Decibelles but on Saturday he also let his hair down - literally - as he took over the bass during Mockingbird. This is the first time he's played with the band - and what a time and a place to debut!!! He did a great job and I really hope we see more of him. Nic has more than enough to do, and it would be great if Toby could free him up to play more percussion or guitar in future.
On to the friendship part of the evening - I have made some great friends over the past couple of years, and it was wonderful to see you all there and to meet people I have only spoken to on here and on Facebook. I am sorry I didn't get to speak to some of you properly - as you probably saw it was totally MANIC on the merch stand, with 5 of us working flat out. I hope we didn't come across as rude - we didn't have time to talk like we would normally.
The party was supposed to start at midnight - once we'd finished on merch and packed up - but by the time I got there around 11.15 the place was packed and there was therefore no chance to collect tickets so I don't know if anyone got in for free! Also the food was almost all gone, but luckily I managed to get some put aside for the band, who weren't able to get there until after midnight as they obviously had to pack up the van and clear the hall.
But I did get to have a brief word with some people - from all over the world!! We had Dan from the US, Mike from Germany, Herve and Yannick from France (who I also sat next to ) and people who'd come over from Japan and Saudi for the event. And of course Jason and Hailey's lovely Mum and Stepfather who had flown in from Greece.
At the end of the night a group of us decided it was safety in numbers and walked back to the Etap - where we decided to have a quick coffee - and ended up talking until 4.30 - almost 24 hours since I'd woken up. But it was great to catch up and we're all looking forward to the Convention.
So it may have been hectic - but it was one of the best days of my life.