Friday 3rd November 2017, a day off from work and a chance to watch a full days entertainment at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. First off, an afternoon concert at Hoddinott Hall (based in the Centre), with The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, today conducted by Otto Tausk. Along with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra, the Centre boasts two equally fabulous orchestras in its surroundings, not many theatres can say that against their name.
The first half was simply gorgeous. A beautiful piece by Bedrich Smetana began proceedings, followed by Antonin Dvorak with Song to the moon from the opera Rusalka, with Egyptian Soprano Fatma Said. Ending with four pieces by Richard Strauss. An absolutely stunning voice, combined with the sheer perfection of the BBC NOW, really added to the beauty of this performance.
For the second half we had another superb Soprano in Llio Evans, who this time became part of the orchestra, with her performance in Janacek’s The Danube. Before finishing the afternoon with Hungaria from Franz Liszt, and what a fabulous performance that was to end the concert. I even got to see a leader Solo, which I’ve never seen before. In all a really fabulous afternoon of music, stunningly played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
One more thing about Hoddinott Hall that really impressed me is the sound quality in the Auditorium. Being a recording venue as well, you can almost hear every instrument being played, and even better can see and locate every player in the orchestra, such a wonderful venue, inside the Millenium Centre building. Really is why this is the best theatre in the world.
Sunday 12th June 2016. My last show of the weekend, back at the Millenium centre for Ben Folds. Another performer I know nothing about,having never heard any of his music. Of course as this is Festival of voice season that means nothing. Over the past week or so everything I have seen has been brilliant, which means as usual tonight will be the same.
Firstly we have Lera Lynn on stage. From Nashville with a very distinctive sound. A two piece band with some superb guitar work from both of them. They played for about 40 mins with very relaxing melodies and some excellent singing from Lera (very impressed with her voice). They did a great version of fire at the start of their set. And continued in that vain all through, culminating in another brilliant cover of ring of fire towards the end. A thoroughly enjoyable start to a great evening, definitely going to watch out for her in the future.
After the break we move onto Ben Folds with Ymusic, a six piece band made up of strings, woodwind and brass, a mini orchestra. From the start of the set, Ben’s writing tested these musicians with some technically difficult routines, which they breezed through, and were well up to the task, taking everything in their stride to make it all work. I was very impressed with the way Ben writes, very clever as to build a song from scratch, adding bits here and there, with the help of the mini orchestra he creates a really fresh and distinctive sound.
His following is strong with a nearly full auditorium,he gave his fans a really amazing show. At one point creating a song on stage with the use of a Welsh phrase, to everyone’s delight was a touch of genius, with the help of the musicians add libbing as the song progressed. Another high point was some audience participation, some really nice tones coming from the crowd and was actually a joy to hear. Very pleasing from a Welsh crowd. Shows what we can do when we put our minds to it.
Another fabulous night of music closed the Festival of Voice for this year. I must say I was very impressed with this show and towards the end realised just how much an accomplished pianist Ben Folds is, I am pretty much a fan now, and wouldn’t mind seeing his show again the next time he visits Cardiff.
Saturday 11th June 2016 back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff for another visit to The Last Mermaid and directly after that a quick dash upstairs for Laura Mvula. Really busy day for me, but well worth it.
Firstly the second performance of the day for the Last Mermaid with the brilliant Charlotte Church along with the equally brilliant cast. Again a truly mesmerising show which had me in tears of joy throughout. Just wish I could have seen this from start to finish (as I managed with Only the Brave back in March/April of this year) as I would easily have watched this over and over. Fabulous.
Now to Laura Mvula in the Donald Gordon theatre,at the centre. I must admit to not having listened to much of her music, so I will be seeing her “blind” so to speak. Heard a lot of good things about her so really looking forward to this.
Firstly though is the support act and boy was she good. A young French singer, Naim. Her voice was exceptional absolutely brilliant. Armed with just a piano and a guitar this artist played her heart out. Such command of the keyboard, she blew me away,I must say I was pretty impressed and loved her whole performance. I have seen some amazing acts and this was in that category. So so good, a real treat tonight.
And finally to Laura Mvula. A fantastic singer from Birmingham. Wow what an amazing voice,together with a five piece band and two backing singers for company, Laura made the whole night sail by. Having never heard any of her material I was again mighty impressed with her songs, mostly written by herself. She has a big following too,with most of the crowd going wild after her most liked melodies. The highlight for me was an a song she sung with just a microphone and nothing else. Then you really had a feel for the amazing voice she has.
I must admit the last few weeks have introduced me to new music I thought I would never listen to in my lifetime, but thanks to this festival of voice season,that has changed. Laura Mvula is now on my “one to see again” list and will definitely be watching her the next time she visits the centre. I may even splash out on some cd’s for my collection. Fabulous night of music.
Sunday 5th June 2016 back at the Millenium centre for Rufus Wainwright as part of the Festival of voice season in Cardiff. This is my first chance to see a music icon at the centre. I must admit to not having heard much of his music, but feel this is too good an opportunity not to pass up.
The evening started with a young artist named Ala.ni and a guitarist. The music they produced was just incredible, I was very impressed with her vocal talent and stage presence,such an amazing voice and at one point left the stage and continued singing as she’s walking through the stalls,may I add without the use of a microphone,her voice carried throughout the auditorium. Totally amazing, which also shows how good the acoustics are at the centre. She played for 30 minutes or so and I was totally hooked on her performance. A really talented and impressive set, got you in the mood for the rest of the evening.
And so on to the main act with Rufus Wainwright and boy was I impressed and totally not what I was expecting. This guy was fabulous,a really talented singer/songwriter whose voice blew me away. I was enthralled for the whole performance and if I’m honest didn’t want it to end. I knew hardly any of the songs he sang but couldn’t care. The voice just took me and that was enough.
What was equally amazing, Rufus only had a piano and guitar on stage but managed to create something special which turned me into a fan almost immediately. Also as a songwriter he has written an opera and from what I’ve heard tonight some good songs to go with it. The following he has also amazed,as the auditorium was packed to the roof,and what a reception he had from his devoted fans.
This was another fantastic evening and one I will never forget. Definitely will be booking tickets for this performer when he returns to the centre.