Last Saturday I had the extreme pleasure of being in the audience to see Neil Gaiman live!
On the stage!
In front of me!!!
To say I was beside myself with excitement leading up to the performance was an understatement. Those that know me, know he is one of a small handful of 'celebs' that I do swoon over. He is indeed the whole package as they say, I have prepared something earlier to explain why.
And so the day finally arrived and my fabulous gals, A, C, J & L joined me in Sydney for the evening. The performance was to be at the City Recital Hall in Angel Place. Somewhere I had never been. What an amazing place Angel Place is, truly worthy of it's gorgeous name. A little lane just before Martin Place, and very easy to miss. I must have walked past it many a time but never entered. What I had been missing!!!
The architecture is a heady mix of old and new, looking up I could do nothing but smile. There are fabulous cafes and restaurants surrounding the Hall, including the famous Ivy Hotel, with it's Ivy swanking the outside in this little world within Sydney. Just outside the Hall are birdcages hanging, shining in the sun and the moon, and if you listen closely you can hear recordings of birds singing, birds that once frequented the area but no longer do. This just adds the mystical and magical quality of this lovely area.
We had drinks at the lovely old Angel Pub and then headed for an early dinner at Felix, a lovely French bistro inspired restaurant. We indulged in French Martinis...to die for...and the best Steak Frites I have ever had (and I had a lot of them in France!).
But we were really there for Neil, and so we headed to the hall and took our seats.
Adding to the excitement, I noticed Jennifer Byrne and Andrew Denton seat themselves four rows in front, my geek-o-meter going off the Richter Scale as you can imagine!
Finally Four Play String Quartet came out as Neil's opening act.
They, of course, began with the Doctor Who theme and were perfect. They played some more tunes from their new album. If you have never heard FPSQ you must, I saw them live some years back and they blew my mind. A punk/rock/jazz fusion of strings, what they can do with their instruments is no-one's business!
And then Neil came out and sang Makin' Whoopee with them, a song he often sings with Amanda. It was marvelous.
Then Neil read some pieces from his new book, Trigger Warning, and some old pieces including a wonderful piece I had read some time back.
But hearing him read, in his beautiful, lilting voice is something else. Hearing any author read their work, if they are so inclined, is always a treat. You hear it read as they heard it in their head, with the right pauses, the right tone, a little laugh, or growl, all depending on what it is. It is truly something else.
This whole section was 90mins but felt like 90 seconds, it went so fast and was such a joy.
We broke for an intermission, and then back for another 90mins, which is freaking amazing, for technically one person.
The second half began with Neil answering questions written for him during Intermission, which is a much classier way to do a Q and A! He was rather witty and very smart in his answering of these questions. Some were serious, and some silly, he answered them appropriately, and humbled us with his honesty and cleverness.
Then more readings, singing, Four Play and on it went, bit by bit, piece by piece, laughter and astonishment abounds. I cannot even recall half of it. Some I had heard before, some I knew of, a lot of it new. Absurd, fantasy, drama, the whole thing, he can do it all.
He did a stunning reading of his Australia Day piece, backed by Four Play doing a haunting didgeridoo musical piece. Awe inspiring stuff, you could hear a pin drop.
I wish I could remember actual phrases used and words strung together, his turn of phrase is so sublime, it brings me to my knees, and to hear him utter those phrases is rather swoon worthy.
He didn't do signings, which is understandable, can you imagine? But most of the books on sale were pre-signed, so I couldn't help myself and pick up some lovely copies on the way out.
Lucky I am to have born witness to such a special evening, with my favourite gals too...the rest of the year has a hell of a lot to look up to!!!