Supporting Belinda

If you thought only catching 30 seconds of Ronan Keating in person was something, wait till you hear this…

I rocked up at the Astor Theatre at 5:30pm on the day of Belinda Carlisle’s show for a soundcheck. Her band (mainly comprised of Aussie session musicians who had been doing the Australian leg of her tour with her) was still on the stage, pumping out grand and luscious 80s sounds, but the lady herself was nowhere in sight. They rehearsed a few tunes, tweaked a few levels and then hung out on the stage chatting. Sometime a little after 6, Belinda slipped inconspicuously onstage and did two partial run-throughs of different songs with the band. Then, again she disappeared – apparently back to her hotel.

So I did my soundcheck – quick and easy – and swiftly got myself backstage to ensure I had plenty of time to get my hair do right… I didn’t want another Ronan hair disaster. Belinda’s manager was hanging out there – funny and friendly guy, and the band members came and went, grabbing dinner and killing time. The promoters of the event had put out a generous spread of cold meats, olives and the like, together with chips, softies and M&Ms (which Belinda’s manager kept trying to press onto me – quirky guy!).

So I went out and did my set, to a healthy crowd of around 1000. When I was done and came backstage, Belinda had reappeared and was chatting casually to the backing vocalist. She never once looked up around the room. The band gradually gathered and took to the stage.

Sitting sidestage and watching the show, I was interested to note that the entire front row was made up of gay men – singing, dancing and having the most awesome of times. The audience was warm and receptive, but were happy to remain seated until they heared the opening chords of “Summer Rain”, at which point half of the seated crowd rushed to the front to stand right before the stage… and there they stayed until the end of the show. Punters photographed and videoed Belinda as she sang, and feverishly stretched out their hands that she might touch them.

During the encore I had to make a smooth exit in order to be ready to sell CDs in the foyer after the show. When I returned backstage after the crowd had dissipated, Belinda was long gone. From chatting with her band members, this was the usual routine at shows – her car would be waiting, ready to whisk her away back to the hotel. I suppose 30 years on the road is enough to turn anyone off the hype of stardom.

So this photo is the best I could do… sorry!

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