Elaine Paige in Hamilton

Elaine Paige (image taken from the internet).

This blog is about “the pleasures and treasures of the Waikato and beyond”. As last night’s Elaine Paige concert at the Claudelands Event Centre does not fit this description, I almost decided not to blog about the experience. The much anticipated concert was a tragically expensive disappointment – and I want the world to know why.

In fairness, some audience members enjoyed the evening enough to give Elaine Paige a standing ovation. The Waikato Times reviewer,  described the evening as “a treat”.  I, personally, have yet to find anyone who would agree with this assessment.

There were great moments, so let’s start with those.  Nic Kyle in the male support role was the star! During the concert, he delivered the performance that lit up the audience and gained the most heartfelt and prolonged applause. I look forward to seeing and hearing more of him. Magic! He’s a Kiwi, what’s more, and we can be proud of him.

The stage lighting was pretty.

Elaine Paige’s gowns were divine – and she carried them off in breathtakingly glamorous style.  (Elaine, don’t lower yourself by telling us all about “shaking your toosh”, for heaven’s sake.)

Elaine Paige simply did not have the physical fitness to open with a song and dance act – and then um-er  out-of-breath um-er try and um-er compere her own show. You could almost hear her brain cells ticking as she tried to remember what city she was in!

We could not hear Elaine’s singing in the first part of the programme because her backing group was disastrously overamplified. Thanks to the sound technician sitting behind us, who did take aboard the comment and altered the balance for the second part of the show.

The after-interval jazz section was the warmest part of a performance that never really caught  alight. Was Elaine Paige jet lagged? Did she have a cold? Was this just another suitcase in another hall? I compared the experience with that of hearing  Cleo Laine and John Dankworth in Singapore twenty plus years ago. Cleo Laine deeply moved me. Elaine Paige did not.

I’m not sure it was all her fault. The cavernous Claudelands Event Centre lacked the intimacy for the intimate nature of the music. The evening got off to a lack-lustre start when the staff member at the door did not know where to direct us, because it was her first night on the job. We found the entry door on our own and, despite arriving half an hour after advertised opening time,  queued in the foyer, waiting to be let in. Once the door was opened, there was not an usher in sight and we wandered around looking for our seats.

We paid hugely for expensive seats which were arranged so each seat was directly behind the one in front, rather than being offset. For much of the show, Elaine’s head skated around on top of the bald head directly in front of me.

Worst of all, the excessive volume was inappropriate for a performance for an audience of this age group. My ears hurt and they are still ringing (and this was despite having my fingers in my ears for most of the show). The four women either side of me also found the volume distressingly loud. One described it as “an assault”.

It was distracting to have a searchlight shone straight into your eyes numerous times during the performance. You have to wonder who thought that particular form of torture would enhance the audience experience.

Next time I want a musical indulgence, I’ll buy the CD.


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