Sarah Brightman UK Tour
The Mayflower Theatre - Southampton, England - O5 October 1997
Concert Review © 1997 Russell W Elliot
Last Updated: 10 October 1997
The English National Orchestra came on stage at 8:00 PM here last Sunday evening, opening what would be an exceptional concert featuring Sarah Brightman. A packed house with people young and old comprised the audience hinting the evening would be filled with music of a broad appeal. The orchestra's opening piece was classical but it developed sufficiently to have the crowd warmed up for the star's entrance.
Sarah Brightman came to the stage in a whispy violet gown to the wild acclaim of the audience who had waited patiently through the first piece for her appearance. Her thanks, expressed with an incredible smile, generated further applause and an extremely warm welcome to the Mayflower Theatre. Her smiles followed the applause generated after each piece she performed.
It is very hard to adequately describe a Sarah Brightman performance. She has incredible power, more than we have ever seen in a a widely-acclaimed popular music vocalist. Those that had the opportunity to see her in Phantom Of The Opera and other West End musicals are likely among the luckiest people on the planet. Sarah's voice is incredibly clear across a range of octaves and volume; it seems she has learned to do almost anything with it. Sarah Brightman is not only a terrific vocalist but she is also a consummate performer; most likely, she is one of the best vocalists recording and performing today. Each piece is not only sung; it is performed full of emotion with complimentary body and arm movements that are choreographed to perfection.
The first half of the show was filled with operatic pieces that were not the most accessable songs for those of us that are not enthusiasts of that genre. However, it was a perfect selection of songs to show Sarah's power, range, and sheer command of a major musical event. The first half of the concert concluded with Sarah's stunning live rendition of the well-known "Pie Jesu" from Requiem. Here is the set list from the first half:
Les Filles De Cadiz
Agnus Dei (Adagio for Strings)
Peer Gynt Suite
Porgy & Bess Summertime
Requiem Pie Jesu
After a short intermission, the orchestra returned to play the introduction to a set from West Side Story. The entire second half was filled with more accessible pieces of music and to our ears was much better than the first. Sarah returned to the stage dressed less formally after the opening number to sing a terrific series of tunes from West Side Story that brought the entire audience to life with excitement and enthusiasm. Sarah Brightman's rendition of these classic, yet accessible, songs was fantastic. She really got into them and it was evident to all of us.
Two terrific songs followed from Sarah's Timeless album before she left the stage for a short break. It was a shame that "La Wally" wasn't one of them, but she did do "Who Wants To Live Forever" which is certainly one of our favourites from her latest album.
Then, to our utter surprise, a tape was used to play the opening organ part before the orchestra joined in for the Overture to Sarah's The Phantom Of The Opera set. She returned to the stage in her third and finest outfit of the evning - a stunning and clingy white longer-than-floor-length gown Although the title track wasn't performed, the two that were played were marvelous, once again convincing us that nobody can do the songs from this show like Sarah Brightman. The second half of the show concluded with a fantastic performance of "The Music Of The Night." Here is the set list from the second half:
West Side Story
Concerto de Aranjuez
Tu Quieres Volver
Who Wants To Live Forever (Sarah)
Phantom Of The Opera
Sarah returned to the stage twice more to perform stunning encores. The first encore was an alternative arrangement of her top hit song "Time To Say Goodbye" which she performed with the choir. To our ears, the arrangement with the choir far surpassed the one with Bocelli. The audience definately loved it. It seemed that the claps and cheers went on endlessly but eventually she returned to the stage once again.
The final song of the evening was the ever-classic "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" which was performed flawlessly in every respect. We were happy she came back for the second encore, but sad when it was over. The second half of the show was fantastic and much better than the first.
When our Brazilian friends introduced us to Sarah Brightman's solo work by playing excerpts from her album Dive earlier this year, we didn't think we'd hear so many of her albums or see her just six months later. She is a terrific singer and performer and one that should not be missed. She's worth a cross-country journey in our book. Check out her live show; you will be very, very glad you did.