Wednesday, 30 September 2009

In the Mood to listen Again and Again!

When I fell in love with ITV show 'Loose Women', I was introduced to a very special lady more commonly known as Coleen Nolan. At first I didn't know who she was – I had never heard of her before – but there was something about her that I immediately liked. I was quite curious to find out exactly who this witty and entertaining woman was, and after very little searching, I discovered that she was once one of the Nolan sisters.

The Nolans first came to the media's attention in 1974, and the Irish group of singers were an ongoing success for quite a number of years, and were huge in Japan. Over the years the members changed as some sisters left to pursue their own careers, and the younger members joined (Coleen Nolan, the youngest sister, was the last to join the group in 1980). The sisters' group came to what was seemingly a final end in 1995 after many successful records and albums.

Ever since the sisters went their own ways, there was constant talk of a reunion. Though every time the subject was brought up, it was simply never a good time for anybody to make a come back. However when it was once again suggested more recently, the timing could not have been more perfect for everybody, and so for a reunion tour, Coleen, Linda, Bernie and Maureen came back together as the Nolans once again.

News of the tour spread fast and there seemed to be a wonderful reaction both from their original fans, and the newer fans they had created along the way (mainly from Coleen, I'll add). Tickets started selling fast and various new dates had to be added in order to please everybody. Now, with the tour just round the corner, kicking off on the 11th October in Nottingham, it would seem now that everybody is getting very excited indeed! To keep us all satisfied before the concerts, an album was released on the 28th September, giving us an insight to the songs that we would be treated with.

As soon as I had heard about the release of this album, I pre ordered it immediately from Amazon.co.uk. It only cost me £8.98, with free postage and packaging. I thought that was a fantastic price to pay for something that seemed so wonderful, I couldn't wait for it to arrive! Thankfully it came just one day after its release date, so I didn't have long to wait.

As soon as I pulled out the album from the bubble wrapped envelope, I studied the cover carefully. It definitely looked incredibly glamorous and stunning. The cover is a gorgeous silvery colour with a faint giant N printed on it. In front of this, there is a headshot picture of each singer: Coleen, Bernie, Linda and Maureen. They're dressed in black dresses with big smiles on their faces. Indeed it is very welcoming and utterly spectacular. 'The Nolans' is written in between them in a lovely gold shade, with 'I'm in the Mood Again' above it. This logo is also seen on the back, with a track list of all sixteen songs underneath.

Inside the case there is a little leaflet advertising their tour, with dates on it, as well as a little about the tour DVD that will be released in November. Before I had a listen to the CD, I had a flick through the booklet that comes with it. This just gives you a little information about each song, as well as a word from the girls. I would have liked to know who was singing each song as I later found out that it can be quite tricky to pinpoint who is the lead of X song. The booklet is quite simple though not really disappointing.

Having thoroughly explored the case, it was time to enjoy the music. Starting with track one, I was welcomed to 'I'm in the Mood For Dancing'. The Nolans first sang this in 1979. It reached #3 in the UK charts, #2 in the Northern Ireland charts and #1 in Japan. It was a huge success then, and is now likely the most loved and well known track by the Nolans. Even those who do not for some reason care for the Nolans much, you will find that they still know this song! When I first listened to this track, I about died. I was expecting pretty much the original track, so when I found that it had been modernized, I was ecstatic. It sounds a lot more 'electric', but the vocals are still just as strong and as crisp as ever. Blasting this as loud as my laptop could take it, I let it ring around me as my feet moved uncontrollably. It is simply amazing.

Filled with excitement after the first track, I headed straight for the next, being 'Chain Reaction'. I first fell in love with this song when it was sung by Steps back in the early 2000s, and since then it has become a track I listen to rather frequently. When I discovered it was on this album, I was over the moon. Now normally I find that the version of a song I first listen to is usually the best, but after just a few seconds into this song I knew immediately that this one favoured over Steps any day. Again it was quite modern and a lot more upbeat. The electric guitars are very clear in this one, and there is something about it that makes it sound slightly Christmasey. The vocals are also a lot more clear than Steps' version, and definitely a lot more enjoyable. This is a simply delightful track!

Next we come to track three, 'It's Raining Men'. There are a few songs which I simply could not live without, and this is most certainly one of them. Being the biggest Spice Girls fan as a child, I followed Geri's career after she left the band, and this was when I fell in love with this song. Again I wasn't sure if I would like this one as much as Geri's, but once again this one came up a treat. The ladies cackle almost at the beginning before the main beat kicks in, and then you can literally feel the sky splitting above you in a storm. There seems to be quite a long introduction with this one, but once the vocals begin I was literally blown away. It is truly amazing – clear and catchy and incredibly addictive.

By this point I had been reduced to tears. I am an overly emotional person in general, but listening to this album brings out so much more in me. I was ready to face track four with a brave face. 'Holding Out For a Hero' is another of my all-time favourite songs, ever since it was sung by Hayley Tammadon on Soapstar Superstar. When this one began, I noticed straight away that the main beat was not as defined as usual, a lot more blended than I had expected. Nonetheless it was amazing and when the vocals began, I could not believe just how varied and powerful the ladies' voices were. This has definitely became my favourite version of this upbeat and lively song!

The next track is 'Chemistry'. This was sung by the Nolans in 1981, when it reached #15 in the UK charts and #11 in the Northern Ireland charts. Personally I feel it could have gone a lot further – the original version from their older albums is truly magical. But if I thought that was amazing, my opinion on this version could not be described. The modern uptempo beat is simply breathtaking, and despite the echoing wonder, the vocals are still very clear and rewarding. Although the older version is easier to sing along to, this is definitely better for getting you tapping along and, indeed, up and dancing!

Track six is one that took me a while to get used to when it was sung by Amy Winehouse. 'Valerie' was never a favourite song of mine, however now my opinion has taken a complete 360 turn and has become one I have listened to many times within twenty four hours! It's a lot more upbeat and full of energy than any other versions I have heard, yet the vocals are a lot more gentle and mellow. They blend well together to create this perfect song. It;s amazing to sing along to and clap your hands while your feet do the grooving! This is now one of my favourites on the entire album.

'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' is the next track we come to. I thought it was quite bizarre to have this on the album, given the title of the first song on the CD, though I did not knock it for a second. When the song was sung by Same Difference on the X Factor I began to like it for the first time, and now I love it even more, all thanks to the four lovely ladies. Their version is a lot more upbeat and lively than any other I have heard, with perfect vocals which I can actually understand, which is more than I can say for any other version! Despite the song's title, this definitely makes me want to get up and dance!

Half way through the album we come to 'Gotta Pull Myself Together'. This is another track which was previous sung by the Nolans, this time released in 1980. It reached #9 in the UK charts and #8 in Northern Ireland, as well as becoming their first Australian hit reaching #3 in their charts. I must say, there is no surprise that it did so well – it is a truly wonderful track. At the beginning of this track it is almost unrecognisable, it is incredibly different to the original. However when the sisters begin to sing it is clear that you are listening to the same song, simply modernized. I adore this, always have, and find that this new version is easier to sing to. It is also a little more lively and a good song to move to.

Track nine is one that I have never liked when it was sung by Duffy. 'Mercy' irritated me, but when it was sung at Jane McDonald's concert earlier this year, it grew on me slightly. Now, thanks to the Nolans, I like it a lot more! It has an amazing drum beat at the beginning, complete with a less nazal “yeah yeah yeah”. It is still quite upbeat though not as much as some of the other songs, and thankfully the vocals are a lot clearer too. It is a little delight and definitely one I enjoyed a lot more than I had expected myself to.

The next track is one that I was so surprised to find on here. When I saw 'The Promise' written on the back of the cover, I didn't for one minute expect it to be the same song that was sung by Girls Aloud. However, upon listening, I discovered that it was the very one. I didn't think it was one that would be sung well by the Nolans, but I could not have been more wrong. It is simply delightful, slightly different and more harmonised than Girls Aloud's version. I think I might just prefer Girls Aloud's version by a fraction, but this is still an utter delight!

'So What' is the song we next come to. This is one my younger siblings love, and although I had never been completely fond of the song myself, I was still looking forward to having a listen. My reaction to this song was completely out of character for me. The second the first beat kicked in I found myself on my feet and jumping around like an absoulte maniac – complete with air guitar. There was something so incredby powerful about the song that it literally threw me up from my seat. It is definitely one that will be added to my 'exercise' playlist – I just cannot stop moving when its on! I really must have looked like a complete twat – thanks for that, Nolans!

Track twelve, 'Crashing Down', gave me time to relax a little more for a few seconds with its slightly more easy introduction, but within ten seconds or so the strong beat that had my feet tapping struck again (at the very least I am going to be a lot fitter thanks to this album!). The original version of Crashing Down , released in 1982, was a lot slower, that's for sure! This is a simply wonderful version, again more electric and modern, with an amazing tempo and upbeat rhythm.

There's something about 'Attention to Me' that always sets me off in tears, and having calmed down since the last episode, this one did reduce me once more. I love the original version by the Nolans – it was released in 1981, reaching #9 in the UK charts and #5 in the Northern Ireland charts. It has always been quite an upbeat song, but now it was out of this world. The introduction was completely different – I didn't recognise the song until the vocals kicked in. It is a wonderful track and although I think I prefer the original, it is still an incredible song.

'Eternal Flame' is a song I adored when Atomic Kitten were peaking, but I had somewhat gone off it since then. However the Nolans re opened my eyes to the song with track fourteen, and once more I adore it. Surprisingly, their version is not as 'tinny' as Atomic Kitten's version, but is a lot more mellow and gentle. It is a proper love song, not as 'pop' as I had expected, and indeed a lot more challenging to sing. Though I simply love it again, and this is definitely the better version!

The second last track is one I had not heard before, going by the name of 'Giving Up,Giving In'. Naturally I was not sure what to expect from this one, but straight away when it began to play I was won over by its intoxicating beat and catchy rhythm. The vocals are superb and I am sure I will latch onto the lyrics in no time thanks to the fact that they are incredibly clear. I have a feeling this is going to be one song that I will come back to again and again.

Finally, we come to track sixteen, which is 'I Will Survive'. Whenever this song is played anywhere, I want to cover my ears. I used to like it but then it became too much of a hype and it seemed to be played everywhere none stop. No offence to the Nolans, I was not particularly keen on this track, but that is purely a dislike with the song itself. Though I will admit, it is superbly sung here and it definitely as a more exciteful beat than usual. This track is not for me, but in general it is well sung. The more I listen to it I am warming to the song, I cannot deny that. I think in time I will learn to love it again, all thanks to the lovely Nolans.

I can do nothing but praise this album. There is not a single fault I can find with it. It looks amazing, and has the perfect amount of tracks, each one sung to perfection. It is the most amazing feel-good album I own in my collection, and I am amazed with the fact that the majority of the songs I already had on my laptop, perhaps by different artists, but all the same. They must have read my mind and created this album for me (!). I cannot thank the Nolans enough for creating this – it is just what I needed to cheer me up (despite the fact that it made me cry!). It is truly wonderful, and now I am even more excited for the concert! So What, I am not keen on one track, but I Will Survive! Please just have Mercy, as I'm in the Mood For Dancing and I want you to pay a little Attention To Me!

Amy x

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Andrea in the wrong?

There's been a huge uproar with Loose Women fans after an incident on Monday's show (21/9/09). During a rather heavy discussion about drugs between Andrea, Lisa, Lynda and Carol, it has been suggested that the show's anchor, Andrea McLean, stepped over the line.

I think this is a load of rubbish. The debate about what should be done with drug users was beginning to get out of hand - everybody was overlapping each other with their views and just as Lynda was away to speak, Andrea replied, "Lynda, hang on, no wait, Lynda, wait, wait!". Now this was simply because Lisa had just made a point regarding the police, and Andrea was trying to explain the bottom line of the situation before more points and opinions got tossed about and it became too much to handle. I think the way Lynda turned to the audience was simply her saying "well that's me told!", however viewers have picked this up as Lynda being hurt by Andrea.

Andrea in no way intended to hurt Lynda. She has also said that she apologised to Lynda during the break. Yet, many viewers still seem to be complaining about Andrea. Many hateful things have been said about her, claiming that she is a terrible presenter and that Jackie Brambles should come back.

I would like to highlight one main fact here - Andrea is a wonderful presenter. If she were not good at her job, she would have been axed from Loose Women a long time ago. With a degree under her belt and a line of successful jobs, Andrea is clearly a hard worker and is very talented. Not only is she a wonderful presenter but has a great personality, a truly amazing person, and by no means should she have to suffer from hateful digs by jealous viewers.

It's time for people to drop the issues they have with last Monday's show and get on with their lives instead of wasting time complaining about Andrea. They're spoiling the show for others and could potentially ruin Andrea's career. She is simply wonderful and deserves none of it.

Amy
x

Monday, 21 September 2009

Melissa Joan Hart - a spellbounding actress!

“Hi Sam!” are the very words that were on the lips of many when American television show 'Clarissa Explains It All' first aired in 1991. Loved by many, it was a show that put actress Melissa Joan Hart on the map after her fantastic performance as Clarissa Darling. Although the show ended in 1994 after a very successful run, there was a lot more of Hart to be seen!

In 1997 a television series hit our screens, known as 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch'. It told the story of a teenage witch named Sabrina who moved to the mortal realm in time for her sixteenth birthday, to live with her two Aunts Hilda and Zelda, and their cat familiar Salem. There they teach her to use her powers once Sabrina has come to terms with the fact that she is a witch, and while juggling her spells Sabrina also has to deal with everyday problems mortal teenage girls face, such as high school and relationships.

Already Sabrina was quite a well known character, thanks to the Archie comic series about the teenage witch. Having produced the television series alongside her mother, Paula Hart, Melissa has said that it was thanks to the comic book series that they “came up with the movie idea”, which was released a year before the series launched.

The television series ran for a total of seven seasons, coming to a dramatic end in 2003. Hart has claimed that there are “too many highlights to name” from the show, though admits that her favourite outfit would have to be “ the sparkle-dress from the opening credits”. Indeed, 'Sabrina' got to dress up in a lot of different, and often outrageous, costumes – the wardrobe department must have had the most amazing fun with those!

Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda were just two of the characters in Sabrina the Teenage Witch that were hugely adored. Though, many viewers had their favourites Aunt, as both were contrasting in personalities. Though Hart says she doesn't have a favourite, and that she likes them “both”. Hilda's wacky characteristics were fantastically portrayed by Caroline Rhea, with the more disciplining Zelda played by the equally amazing Beth Broderick. It is clear to see why it would be hard to choose a favourite!

A short while after the television series launched, 'Sabrina the Animated Series' aired – a cartoon series based on the original. It was in fact Hart's younger sister Emily, who can be seen as Amanda in the television show, who was the voice of Sabrina. Hart provided the voices of both Hilda and Zelda. Hart was able to jump from the role of Sabrina straight into the role of the Aunts with ease, showing the strength in her talent as an actress.

Hart has played various characters over the years in different shows, and claims that she “loves them all for different reasons”. She also states that, “ every job I have done has better prepared me for the future”. Certainly Hart has had a lot of experience, with a range of roles to appeal to different audiences. No matter what your preference, there is bound to be a Hartbreak production for you!

She admires her “Mom” most in life, and in 2006 Hart became a Mom herself when she gave birth to her first son Mason three years after marrying musician Mark Wilkerson. Her second son, Braydon, was born in 2008. Television is often criticised now, with suggestions that it often gives out inappropriate messages to children. Hart states that she “monitors what they watch”, ensuring her children are brought up in the best world possible.

While juggling motherhood and her career, Hart also opened up her own candy store, 'Sweetharts' in 2009. It was something she had always dreamed of, and hopes to expand the store to other places in the USA, with the current store located in California. Perhaps one day it will expand across the the United Kingdom too.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch 'ended' six years ago now, and as things stand, Hart has claimed that there are no plans for any one off 'reunion episodes'. She hopes for “ peace, love and happiness” in the future, and of course fans are sure to keep her career going strong. We are sure to see a lot more of Hart in the future – she is a wonderful actress, incredibly talented with a great personality. Whether she is your Clarissa Darling, or your Sabrina Spellman, Hart has warmed the childhood of many, and long may she continue to do so.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Loose Women - ITVs Finest Makeover

15/9/09

When i first fell in love with Loose Women back in 2007, the whole idea behind the show was new to me. Luckily I had two years to adapt to the delicious blue set and main panellists. The colour scheme was wonderful, and everything of mine became blue to match. I even had my own mug made with my name on it to match. As for the panellists, well they were perfect. I could not have imagined a more perfect line up than what we were given day to day. Jackie and Andrea were the two most superb anchors imaginable, and everything was perfect.

And then Jackie announced she was leaving.

When I first heard this news, I was devastated. She is such an inspiration and unknowingly plays quite a big role in my life and future career. Although it had taken me a little while longer to warm to her compared to Andrea, she was still part of what made up the wonders of Loose Women, and I simply couldn't believe she was leaving. However when the news leaked that Kate Thornton was to be replacing her as anchor, my spirits did lift a little. I have always adored Kate, and couldn't wait to see her in the leading chair.

After Jackie's send off at the beginning of August, I did cry. Its only natural - my soft nature took over and I grieved with the end of an Era. I did have a suspicion that the Loose Women set would be given a make over, what with its new anchor and a few 'new' faces on the panel, but what I wasn't sure.

After what seemed like an eternity, Loose Women was finally back on our screens early September and the new design was revealed to us. As I had hoped, it captured a main pink colour. At first I thought this was too dark, but after a while I found it quite appealing and have actually concluded that it is a lot more welcoming that the more metallic previous shades. The mugs especially are quite attractive, and I shall be having my own one made as soon as!

Since the previous series, Lisa Maxwell had also joined the ladies full time, and for me this was wonderful news. She is so adorable, and is exceptionally comic too. Although Coleen had been away for a while, Lisa was perfect for stepping into her seat for the time and is certainly welcomed back as often as possible! It was also announced that Rachel Agnew would be back, and so far this has not happened yet, but when it does I will be thrilled. I had been worried that some dire snob would win the Make Me A loose Woman competition in the previous series, but thankfully we were given a woman worth her weight in gold - Rachel is so natural, so amazing - nobody else could have filled her winning shoes.

I had hoped that Kate would be on the show in the first week, but sadly we had to wait until near the end of week two before we could see her in action. Finally this came, and I was simply delighted with how things turned out. Kate is a natural on Loose Women, a wonderful presenter and a fantastic anchor. She actually reminds me of a cross between Jackie and Andrea, though has her own style too. She's an incredible woman and although I am upset with Jackie's departure, I feel no finer presenter could have taken over.

The new Loose Women set is gorgeous, and the panellists are amazing, but there is one thing that worries me. Over the past few months there has been rumours that all sorts of personalities are to be joining the panel: Victoria Beckham, Katie Price. If that wasn't bad enough, it does seem that there are a lot more panellists joining the show, which means we never get to warm to them as much as we would if it stuck to just eight like the previous series'. I do fear that it will go down the same route as it did with 'Loose @ 5:30' and start losing viewers. Hopefully though this will not be the case!

Having just won its third award in a row at the TV Quick and TV Choice Awards, it would seem that Loose Women is still going strong, and providing there are no changes too dramatical, I am certain it will stay this way. For me, it is my life and the centre point to my future career. It means the world to me, as do its panellists. If you ever get to see it live, I strongly encourage you to take this opportunity as it is simply fantastic (although the studio is slightly chilly!). Who knows, maybe one day my dream will come true and it will be me sitting in the leading chair, attempting to keep the ladies under control! Until then though, I shall enjoy the show as it is. Loose Women - television wouldn't be the same without it!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Mitchell in the Middle

12/9/2009

It had been four years since we last seen Sam Mitchell flee from Walford, on the run in Brazil to escape her prison sentence. Actress Kim Medcalf had portrayed the character since 2002, and during her time we saw Sam involved with a bag-full of men, becoming quite a businesswomen, and being involved with the murder of Den Watts. However, long before Kim Medcalf was cast as the Mitchell sister, the character was introduced to Albert Square back in 1990, in the form of Daniella Westbrook. Daniella appeared in the soap on and off until 2000, when Sam was axed from the show due to Daniella's drug addiction.

When the news of Sam's return was let out, fans of the soap all had their own opinions created even before filming had commenced. Having been clean for a number of years, Daniella was recast, and this was admired by those fans who adored EastEnders when Sam first came into it. However many of those who were used to Kim Medcalf's portrayal of the character did not take too fondly to this news. Only time was going to tell if the 'new' Sam was going to go down well with the viewers - Westbrook herself has claimed she felt “happy” when she was approached and asked to return to the show.

Sam's return shook up the Square as the Mitchell's tried to keep her hidden, but that was easier said than done. Slowly word began to spread and before long, it had reached the likes of Bianca and Archie. Bianca may have despised the return of this particular Mitchell, but for Ricky it seemed to be the most wonderful thing in the world. The chemistry between Sid Owen and Westbrook is fantastic, and has created an amazing storyline as Sam and Ricky are reunited once again.

It was evident that Sam was now going to be a lot more like the true Mitchell she was when she first came into the soap. During Medcalf's portrayal, Westbrook was living in Los Angeles and was unable to watch the show. This meant that she only really knew the way she portrayed Sam some years ago. Medcalf created a Sam that was a little more soft, perhaps filled with a little less 'Mitchell spirit'. Though as soon as Sam returned on the 4th September 2009, with Ricky Butcher on her arm, it was clear that she was as feisty and flamboyant as she had ever been.

Westbrook states that she is bringing “glamour” to Sam now, and indeed this is clear! The wardrobe department must be brimming with its selection of exciteful garments now owned by Sam. Although she has only been in the show a week, already Sam has been seen in more items of clothing that imaginable, each one more gorgeous than the next.

With her return, Westbrook was looking forward to being reunited with characters such as “Ricky, Phil, Peggy, Bianca and Ian”. She has also claimed that she has been looking forward to working with Samantha Womack, who plays Ronnie, as the two went to school together. As well as her working alongside her co-stars, Westbrook's highlights from her return include “wearing bright clothes and working hard”.

She may have only been on the Square for a week, but Sam Mitchell has created a stir for her own family and everybody else who has crossed her path. Having just been arrested, who knows what will happen to the much loved character now? It would seem that Westbrook's return has indeed gone down exceptionally, and many who feel they are 'true Medcalf fans' have even warmed to her. Daniella would like Sam and Roxy “to be friends”, but if Sam gets sent down that will be a task even for the brilliant script writers. Will she be released and able to live her life, or is it straight to prison for Sam Mitchell?

Friday, 4 September 2009

Jane McDonald concert - Caird Hall, Dundee

4/9/2009

Back in 2007 I discovered the television phenomenon that is Loose Women. It is a show that I connected with instantly and felt that the rapport I had with my TV set was just as strong as that the ladies on the panel had. One of these delightful panellists is Yorkshire lass Jane McDonald. Since starring on 'The Cruise', Jane's voice has become known all over. She has a great vocal range with almighty lungs that will take any song by storm. Combining these factors with her wonderful sense of humour makes Jane such an asset to Loose Women. I'd seen her briefly outside ITV studios but running behind schedule, she didn't have time to stop. However that quick few seconds I saw her in front of me, I was blown away. So when I found out that she had another concert lined up, I jumped at the chance of going.

Unfortunately the closest concert to me was being held at Dundee in the Caird Hall. Though since I am such a fan of Jane's music, I was willing to pay the price of ticket and travel. The ticket itself for the concert, bought from Ticketmaster, cost just short of thirty pound, which I think is a delightful price to pay! With a return train ticket costing just twelve pound, I was getting to see Jane McDonald live for barely fifty pound! For me, that is a real bargain! Less than a week later the tickets flung through my letter box, and all that was left to do was wait a few months until it was time to go!

The concert in Dundee was on the 3rd September, so I wasn't expecting glorious sunshine. However when I woke up on the morning and saw that the sky had opened and the rain was belting down, my heart sank. I didn't want the weather to damped my mood before the event. What was worse though was I still had to get through the whole day before catching the train! Finally I walked off to the train station and boarded the train at five o clock completely soaked through. The internet on my phone wasn't working and I had a headache. So far, things weren't going terribly well.

After a long and dull journey I finally arrived in Dundee. I'd never been to Dundee before so prior to my journey I had drawn up a little guide with the help of Bing Maps so I could find my way to the theatre. I trotted along in the pouring rain again (I'd hoped it was different in Dundee!), and found Caird Hall no bother. The building itself is quite grand. There are ten or so large pillars at the front of the long building sheltering it, and there are a few steps you have to climb up (disabled are able to enter through the stage door), before you come to the main doors. At this point, it was just after half six and I had to stand thankfully for no longer than fifteen minutes in the cold before the doors were opened and I could find my seat.

I was situated in the stalls – M7. 'M' is quite a long way down the alphabet so I'd imagined I would be seated quite far back in the hall, but to my surprise I discovered that I was just twelve rows from the front. This was the first concert I'd been to so I did expect a bigger gap between the stage and the first row, so only much to my delight was I proven wrong. After an impatient wait, half seven finally arrived and the musicians walked onto the stage, picking up their instruments as the audience glared at them. The hall went dark and we were told to give a huge welcome to Jane McDonald. Naturally, we all started clapping and cheering (not so much cheering as about 70% of the audience were over 50!). Jane walked out onto the stage as the spotlight hit her, and I gasped. She was seen in the most gorgeous dress I've ever seen – aquamarine blue with a mermaid style fin at the bottom. It was utterly gorgeous! And then she opened her mouth and the evening just got better! The first song she sang I didn't know, but the second was the one I had prayed for! After performing 'It's Getting Better' on the Loose Women end of season finale this year, I'd fallen in love with the song and this was what she sang next. I must have looked quite peculiar as the biggest smile broadened across my face.

In between songs Jane would talk to the audience, which is always a comfort. She told jokes, such as one about a brown paper bag who wasn't feeling well, and putting money between her butt cheeks. She also interacts with her musicians, especially the piano player (who is also the voice of the Compare the 'Meerkat' adverts!) and her backing singers. One backing singer out of the three particularly stood out for me: Jo Boyd. That woman has such an energetic personality, and an amazing voice too – she took centre stage at one point, and it was most amusing to see Jane with the backing singers. Jane mentioned Loose Women a few times, and also talked about her mother a bit. To my delight, Jane's mam was also in the audience, and Jane had the house lights put on so we could all turn round and see her. I was delighted at this, and her mam must be so proud!

After the break, which lasted about twenty five minutes, Jane came back on and before any stage lights were on, you could see her twinkling away on the stage. As soon as the lights did come up, she sparkled with every movement. She wore a deep red dress which, to the delight of the men in the audience, had a slit at the side which came up to her thigh. Whenever she moved the slightest, it would seem that she had a thousand gems sewn onto her. She truly looked like a firework in the night. The second half of the show is the more emotional part, where she sings more meaningful songs, such as The Hand That Leads Me, Even Now and One Voice. She actually brought a tear to my eye, which was no surprise to me as even 'mp3 Jane McDonald' makes me weep!

After more joking and chatting to the audience, Jane finished off the show with a lively melody of various songs after she'd received her standing ovation. The majority of the audience were on our feet, dancing and clapping along to the music. Her voice echoed all around, and despite its volume it was one of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard. Within the space of two hours I'd gone through a roller coaster ride of emotions, faced with excitement and nerves, as well as being too emotional for my own good! When Jane walked off the stage into the wings at the end, and the houselights came up, I could have cried! I could have stayed there forever and listened to her amazing voice. It's like nothing I've ever experienced before. It gives me such joy and such hope – and I owe it all to you, Jane!