THE CAROLINA OPRY SHOW

Courtesy of Sharlie Stuart
2007.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is like a second home to me and during the summer months in 2007 I was privileged to see Mr. Vincent perform live at The Carolina Opry. I was informed by a friend who used to entertain at the theatre that a “new act” had joined the ranks of the cast, so my curiosity had already been awakened of who this new mystery man was.

During my Opry nights I discovered what a unique stage presence Tony has that gives him the ability to stand out in a crowd. His vocals were captivating and passionate. During the few times I saw Tony in July and August the songs he did included: “We Are The Champions”, “Missing You”, and “Every Breath You Take”; some of the audiences favorites for sure!

MEMORY CONCERT

Courtesy of Ruthie Arukuusk
2007.

Hello, well I was asked to write about the Memory Concert and meeting His Royal Highness Mr. Tony Vincent!  Okay, i'm just kidding about Tony being HRH, he is just so kind and lovely.  Well, first I live in Tartu which is the town where the first concert of this "Memory" concert series was performed and I was one of the audience.  I was really, really excited at the beginning of the day because I knew that I was going to the concert and that I was going to meet Tony.  Actually, I had sent Tony a letter with a request to meet him and get autograph, back in November, and he anserwed me positively.  I was pretty sure that I was going to meet him.

The concert started at 14:00 at Vanemuise Concerthall in Tartu.  I was so excited.  First came Tarmo Leinatamm (orchestra conductor) on the stage and then the host Mart Sander.  Mart talked so much that I was bored already, all I was thinking about was, "when is Tony coming on to stage".  Then on he came.

First song was "Jesus Christ Superstar" and he rocked the people of Tartu's socks off.  He really did!  Then came other songs without Tony, unfortunately I can't remember what they were.  Tony's duet with Koit Toome-"Starlight Express" was really impressive, though Koit was trying too hard!  Tony was awesome like always!  Then "The Woman in White" with Jaanika Sillamaa that was awesome, brilliant!  "And The Money Kept Rolling In" also awesome, shiny and good.  "No Matter What" with Koit and Lauri; they were all really good but Tony was still the best.  "Amigos Para Siempre", he sang with all others.  However, he could only sing one verse and the line AMIGOS PARA SIEMPRE in the chorus because it was all in Estonian. And the extra song " We Are The Champions", once again he rocked much more off than just socks.

After the concert I stayed near the backstage door as I agreed with the director of this concert and Theatre Vanemuine.  Tony came out with with Paavo and he introduced me to Tony, who then reached his hand to me and said Hi, I'm Tony Vincent" with a gorgeous smile and shook my hand!  Then I introduced myself and greeted, congratulated him from his fans on the Tony Vincent Forum. Then I asked if he liked Tartu and he said that he loved it. Then we (Tony, me and Paavo) chatted casually.

Oh and I still don't know why, but he thanked me lot of times.  I'm still wondering why he thanked me so many times.  Then he wrote his autograph on my souvenier brochure. Actually he wrote "Ruthi! Many Thanks!" and his autograph.  Then I asked very shyly if I could have a photo with him and he answered "sure".  Me, a northern shy girl, tried to stand next to him with my hands right by my sides, but that didn't work.  He practically pulled me near him and put his hand on my back. So we got a gorgeous picture (you can see it in the Fan Gallery).

For me Tony Vincent is the most caring, (extremely) charming, friendly, polite, (bit) chatty, interesting and interested, funny, (extremely) positive man that I've ever met.

EMBRACE!

Courtesy of Anonymous
February 16, 2006.

The concert to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation featured a live band of 4 backing up what felt like an all-star open-mic night, each artist performing one song, preceded by either Seth Rudetsky, or a God mic, rushing through the highlights of their resume.  Some performances were comic, others sincere and touching, but each was entertaining.  Tony Vincent, still sporting the buzz-cut and white rhinestone shirt last seen at the SAS gigs, made his appearance near the end of the second half.  Standing behind a mic stand, he set himself apart from the others by performing one of his own songs, "A Better Way".  He drove home this powerful ballad with his typical intensity, punctuated with the all-too-familiar gestures that define his unique stage presence.  Not straying much, if any, from the recorded arrangement familiar to most fans, he delivered a solid, if not somewhat understated performance, then quietly walked off stage and disappeared into landscape of the city.

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER GALA

Courtesy of Emma Pierce
July 29, 2006.

Saturday July 29th was the day of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Gala at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, Estonia; the day started with a down pour (not a good start when you know you are going to be standing outside for over 3 hours).  As the day progressed however, the clouds parted, the temperature soared, and the ground dried out making way for a glorious evening.

The stage was set in front of a concrete arch type building with a large seated area in front of it, which was surrounded by a low fence that separated the seated and standing ticket holders.  We managed to position ourselves slightly off centre, but to the very front of the standing area where we had an unobstructed view of the stage in the distance.  The gradient of the grassed area behind us rose gently and soon became filled with a sea of people, some standing, whilst some sat on blankets or portable stools and chairs.

Before long an estimated 23,000 people were eagerly awaiting the start of the concert as 8pm approached.  The orchestra finished warming up and then the first magical bars of the overture started, and then, all of a sudden there he was, in that familiar red shirt, music binder in hand, walking across stage to take his position to open the concert with "Superstar". After hearing it and seeing it often on the various DVD's/recordings it was such a delight to finally hear it live.  With his highly energised, powerful and passionate performance, Tony set the standard for the night, and the show went on. The compare for the evening kept the concert flowing smoothly by introducing each artist and the musical piece that they were to perform.  The other artists and songs were great, a few dodgy names and voices (personal preference) but Tony was on form.  He sounded awesome and looked amazing blown up on the large screens!

A few songs in, and Tony was back on stage, this time singing from the "Woman In White", a duet with Marsha Yuan titled "I Believe My Heart", …a lovely moving piece, which, with the following three numbers, was a beautiful way to experience the setting of the sun, truly a touching moment.

Later in the evening Tony and Max Von Essen joined onstage for a duet of the Starlight Express/Sequence.  Another good performance was given and this time you could see Tony’s facial expression being one of disbelief as he was being told "Rusty you’re blind, look in your mind..I’m there...’ it was a moment not to be missed!!

Now if you thought that all this is sounding too good to be true then this was to be surpassed by a rendition of "No Matter What" from "Whistle Down The Wind" which was to be Tony’s penultimate piece.  He took the vocal lead with accompaniment from some of the male artists on backing vocals which made it look and sound as though Tony had his very own boy band!  It was lovely to hear the rapturous applause as the Estonian audience recognised the tune, and then again, their applause at the end of the piece.

Part way through the second half of the concert, after some beautiful movements from Sunset Boulevard, it was then time for the Evita section and Tony performed "And The Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)" and if you have the Andrew Lloyd Webber Masterpiece DVD then you will be familiar with Tony’s performance of this song, and sure enough, he was faultless once more, and did us proud.

It was soon time for the last song to be sung, and note to be played when the cast appeared onstage to take their final bows and close the concert with an encore of "Amigos Para Siempre" a beautiful and fitting way to end the evening.

To sum up.. beautiful weather, beautiful music, in beautiful company.  Thanks to all that were there, especially the ants that kept us on our toes by trying to climb up our legs!! ...trust us to find an ant’s nest!

SAS GIG 2006

Courtesy of Debbie Foster
December 9, 2006.

After an eventful drive down to Bisley I finally found the turn-off for the National Shooting Centre.  I drove into what looked a dark, deserted and rather spooky place and parked the car outside what shadily resembled the building shown on the website.  Fumbling around in the dark I managed to "hook up" with friends only to discover that there was no power to the area and it was "touch and go" as to whether the gig would be going ahead!  I was gutted, the last time I'd seen Tony was at his final WWRY in London and now this – how cruel!  We sat huddled in one of the cars hoping and praying that something would happen and all power would be returned in time.  We watched many people come and go by the light of the car head lights and finally our prayers were answered – there was power (hooray!).  We made our way to the bar to sit and wait, meet more friends and also to order a pizza.  People were beginning to join queue outside and it was growing quite long, so half the happy gang went off to join it whilst the rest of us awaited delivery of the elusive pizza.  Needless to say, the pizza didn’t arrive but Tony did – who needs pizza?  Unknown to us, the bar had become a restricted area for artists and their guests and we had been locked in there (how sad).  He looked very well as he "breezed" into the bar and I must say to anyone who is not too keen on the new hair you should see it in real-time – it’s really very nice and shows off those lovely eyes *dreams*.  Anyway where was I, he greeted everyone warmly and then went off through the door into the hall.  At this point we had almost forgotten about the food until a huge pile of pizzas arrived for the band -– of course ours was not among them.  A kindly old gentleman seated nearby took pity on us (even though we accused him of taking our pizza) and offered us a potato wedge each.  Just as we contemplated the offer we were unceremoniously rumbled.  "Who are you ladies?" asked a burly bouncer along with "can you leave you shouldn’t be here".  Out into the cold for us then!

We stood freezing in the queue and soon realised that the gig would start late because of the power situation.  Our grumbling was suddenly drowned out by the sound of music.  No, not Julie Andrews but Tom Robinson, Madeline Bell and Stevie Vann singing Beatles songs to entertain the queue.  It was excellent to have a sing-a-long and made the time go very quickly.  "Yellow Submarine" will bring back totally different surreal memories now.

In no time at all we were in the hall and jostling for position near the front.  The show began.  It was really very good, although quite loud and very hot.  All too quickly the time came for Tony’s set and he came on wearing a white high collar shirt with a large dragon (?) motif on the back and a rather fetching pair of Prada glasses.  He sang three songs the first was one of my favourites – "Creep", followed by his own song off the new EP "Winter" and then the usual and also my favourite - "Don’t You Forget About Me".  He deservedly got a great reception and much applause and whoops – a lot of which seemed to be coming from random groups of familiar ladies dotted around the audience!  For me, it was great to hear him sing live songs other than ALW or Queen and especially to hear Winter, such a pretty song.  Sadly, all too soon he was gone and the show continued.

As an aside, during the set of Paul Young, he introduced Sam Spoons who turned out to be the pizza/potato wedges man – that was really funny, but I guess you should’ve been there to appreciate the joke!  The finale brought all the singers and spoon player back onto the stage to sing "You're The Voice" and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" which was really moving and started off much hand holding and swaying amongst the audience.

At the end of the gig we made our way to the exit and said our "goodbye's".  Suddenly a figure you could not fail to recognise appeared amongst the now much depleted crowd – Mr Vincent no less.  He made time to speak to people and to have photo’s taken before we were all literally herded out of the hall by some over-efficient bouncers – how inconsiderate!

Driving back my mind raced over the last few hours, for me it was truly a magical evening, I met up with some lovely friends, heard some great music, heard Tony sing live for the first time in ages and also met him for the first time. On reflection, I feel it was a measure of the man that he actually came up and introduced himself to me, as if I wouldn’t know who he was!  He also made sure to say "nice to meet you" before we left.  I found that so endearingly humble, what a nice and hugely talented guy!

WE WILL ROCK YOU LONDON: TONY'S LAST SHOW