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Monday, 10 October 2011

Another London Trip

Last week I toddled off down to London again. I'd had everything booked for months but I wasn't expecting to be in such a precarious state when the time arrived. However, when I managed to switch my brain off from PhD worrying, I found it was quite a tonic.

The point (and highlight) of the trip was to see the fabulous Idina Menzel at the Royal Albert Hall. If the pedigree of that Broadway star wasn't enough (Wicked, Rent and Glee) then the identity of her conductor would have sealed the deal - Broadway composer Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line, They're Playing Our Song and innumerable film scores). There was such warmth between Idina and Marvin that it really impacted on the enjoyment of the evening. And, I have to say, the My Fair Lady suite that Marvin conducted during his warm-up was amazing. I can't think of a set of melodies I'd rather hear in the Royal Albert Hall.

Idina was absolutely excellent. Not a dud note as far as I'm concerned. There were so many outstanding songs that I can't list them all but my favourites were probably 'I'm Not That Girl', 'Look To The Rainbow', 'No Day But Today' and 'For Good'. The latter, from Wicked, was sung without a microphone and I can attest that she was perfectly audible from the furthest corners of the building. I'm not sure how many singers have got the vocal power for that these days. As beautiful as her singing was during that number, I was equally entranced by the stillness of the audience. Throughout the rest of the evening everyone was somewhat raucous but during that song everybody was straining to hear each note. I've never known so many people be so well-behaved at any given time. Overall, the evening was fantastic, although I was so tired that I was commenting on the corridor walls moving around as we went for the tube.

Right, what else did I get up to? Well, a little shopping, of course. I couldn't bypass the opportunity to go to the Dress Circle, my favourite London shop bar none. I did set myself a mental limit of £50 but remembered at the last minute that I hadn't got the album I went in there for - the Betty Blue Eyes cast recording. Along with that, I also bought cast albums of Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be, Matilda and Merrily We Roll Along as well as the DVD of Liza With A "Z" (hugely and thankfully reduced). My favourite find of the day has to be a three disc set of songs by the marvellous Kay Thompson. For anyone who hasn't heard of her, watch Funny Face then do what I did and get absolutely obsessed with an extraordinary woman.

I went a little mad in Paperchase (two notebooks, a card, two bookmarks, a Renoir postcard and some stickers) and also made the mistake of going into Foyles. However, that was for my father's belated birthday present. The fact I walked out of there with Jackie Kay's Red Dust Road and Up and Down Stairs by Jeremy Musson is beside the point. Anyway, I think just the two books in a shop that size shows enormous self-restraint. Well, that and I got lost in there.

I also got to see the Atkinson Grimshaw exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery. For anyone unfamiliar with this Victorian artist, I can't recommend a better piece than this by @Amateur_Casual which gave me my introduction to an artist whose work I'd admired on the front cover of my copy of The Woman in White without knowing who he was. I have to thank my good friend Claire profusely for not only allowing me to drag her round there but for also not looking too bored while I did so. I talked myself into buying the catalogue of the exhibition and I can't wait for an opportunity to put my feet up and peruse it. However, knowing my luck, that chance will be some time coming!

So...that was London in October. Back in Wakefield I find the damp returning to my bedroom wall and the dog ecstatic to see me. At least I have good music, good books and good memories to keep me going!

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