Hayley Westenra and Fiona Pears

Last night Jo and I went to The Grove Theatre in Dunstable to see Hayley Westenra in concert. It was a bit of a rush, as it was a 19:30 start, but we got there in plenty of time and met up with my mum before we went in.

We hadn’t been to the Grove before, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. It is a reasonably new venue, having opened in April 2007 and seats 780 on 2 levels, the stalls and the circle. We had seats in the stalls, 9 rows from the stage, so we had a good view. The acoustics were great and Hayley Westenra even commented on that; they really liked it during their soundchecks and would consider revisiting. The seats were comfortable and there was enough leg room (some thing I tend to notice if its missing).

hayley westenra - Copyright (c) 2006 Steven Hayter [HWI].The concert started a couple of minutes later than expected when her musicians came on stage, followed shortly by Hayley Westenra in a green gown. She opened with Pokarekare Ana and then followed with another 2 songs, Ave Maria and Scarborough Fair, before introducing her musicians, violinist Fiona Pears, guitarist Andy Moore and pianist Ian Tilley. She then left the stage to Fiona, which I thought a bit strange. I was thinking, ‘I came to see Hayley Westenra, not her musicians’, but then Fiona started playing a piece called Tangisimo that she had written about her time in Prague and all concerns were gone. Fiona was a surprise find on the evening, her playing is inspired and animated and very enjoyable. She followed this with another piece called Memories of Martin and Mary from when she was travelling in Ireland. Hayley then came back on stage for another 4 songs taking us to the interval.

fiona pearsAfter a brief 20 minute interval, we resumed with Fiona playing Hava Nagila and the audience clapping along; the look we got when we had stopped was enough to start us again quickly. Hayley then came back on stage wearing a salmon pink gown and we had another half a dozen songs including May It Be from Lord of the Rings and Songbird (by Eva Cassidy). It seemed so soon when Hayley stood there and told us it was the end of the concert and left the stage. The applause was enough to bring Hayley back on her own to give us Sonny which she accompanied on the piano, she left again and the applause continued until she came back. I though we were going to get another song, but when her musicians arrived back on stage, Fiona had already changed out of her stage outfit, which caused a lot of laughter and we didn’t get any more. A little disappointing.

After we came out we waited around until Fiona and Ian brought her CDs and DVDs out for us to buy. We managed to get at the front of the rapidly forming queue as Ian was putting their wares on the table. We got a copy of her DVD ‘Live at the Christchurch Cathedral’ and her CD ‘Memories of Home’

It was quite an early night with us home by quarter to 10.

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