30th January, 1999. Telewest Arena, Newcastle
Wow! What an experience. The only word to describe Saturday night is Awesome. I was sat about 5 rows from the back but in a central location, so the view wasn't really that bad, though the large screens either side of the stage did have their use.
Picture house came on stage at 7.30 and did an excellent 45 minute spot. I had never heard this band before but was well impressed with their performance.
Time for a quick smoke (I know, I'll have to give them up) and another pintthen back to our seats in time for the French and Saunders spoof, whichseemed to go down well with the crowd. A few minutes wait, the house lights go down, tensions building, When He's Not Around intro starts, spotlight shines on the stage, there's Sharon, violin tucked under chin and I realise this is finally it. After waiting months the Corrs are playing live, for me! Yes, forget there's another 5999 people there, this is for me. Then a wonderful voice sings "He's uncool……", a huge cheer reminds me I'm not alone, back down to earth to enjoy the spectacle about to unfold.
The next 90 minutes was a joy to behold. The setlist was as in previous concerts, which is a good thing because I was too engrossed to bother with minor details like the order the songs were played in. What matters is they played them and did so superbly. The sound was excellent, every instrument and every voice could be heard clearly, without any one overpowering the others. All 6 people on stage played their parts flawlessly and with an unimaginable passion.
Jim was greeted with much whistling before his piano solo prompting the comment "my hotel's just down the road", which if anything, made things worse. The solo itself was excellent, both the actual piece and the
execution of it (and no I don't mean he killed it) and was followed by his Les Dawson impression. Then back on stage came Sharon and Caroline to even more whistling, this time from the male contingent. Sharon handled this quite simply by turning and saying "Jim, they're whistling at you again". A laugh from the audience then No Frontiers. I have heard the MP3, I listened to the live web broadcast from the Point but nothing can prepare you for the experience of actually being there and hearing this song performed live. I was lost for words, gobsmacked. The entire audience seemed mesmerised by it.
Runaway, with Caroline on piano, was beautiful. Haste to the Wedding as ever, was brilliant and was met with much clapping of hands, stamping of feet and dancing. Secret Life, with a Caroline drum solo then joined by Anto on guitar, amazing. Apart from the remix version of What Can I Do everything was brilliant.
Andrea was all over the stage, running, skipping, dancing and a few bum wiggles thrown in for good measure. She was certainly much more animated than at the Albert Hall last year.
Now, Caroline. I have always held Caro in high regard, I didn't think she could go any higher in my esteem but after Saturday it's time for a rethink. She was fantastic. The piano playing in Runaway, the singing of No Frontiers, both beautiful. An excellent bodhran solo in HTTW that seemed to go on forever, could have gone on forever for me, it sounded so good. The remainder of the time I watched intently, almost in a trance, as she banged away on the drums. Those sticks were flying about everywhere, it was almost as if they had a life of their own. Some girl!
Being an eternal optimist I made good of my poor seating allocation by using it as a vantage point from where to judge the crowds reaction and I have to say they were very good. You can always rely on us Mackems and the Geordies for a warm welcome. I am pleased to say most of the crowd were on their feet for most of the show and this was appreciated by the band. Bit of a disappointment when the people at the front didn't sing loud enough during Runaway, so Andrea had to do it all herself but they did acquit themselves well enough during Dreams and So Young.
All in all, a truly uplifting experience. Well worth waiting for. The Corrs certainly made an old man feel very happy with that performance. Roll on Sheffield, just 24 days and counting.