One foot in the door after another day at work and the phone is ringing - one pair of canine and two pairs of feline eyes bore into my back as I DARE to answer it before getting their dishes out. What a good job I did - it was Jane with news of tickets for the Late Late Show special. Hasty contact was made with Helen and Catherine and flights booked. Departure was an hour later than when we went to Belfast last November thanks goodness. Fortunately our flights arrived at the same time and we met at the luggage carousel. A bus ride and walk found us at our B&B where Robert, the proprietor, seemed to want to give us enough information for a week's stay - very kind of him but we were keen to get out and have something to eat. Back outside again we made our way to Wicklow Street for what was supposed to be a sort of brunch, but turned into lunch. As we turned into Wicklow Street there was much laughter as we could hardly believe there was a shop called 'Cinders' (see the reports from Belfast November 2005) and what did they sell but shoes!! A photograph had to be taken.
A few leisurely hours was followed by a bit of a nap, getting ready to go out, and meeting Julie Lawrence for early dinner. Julie imparted the news she had spotted a poster saying Frances Black was appearing live at Celtic Note on Saturday lunchtime (lunch!).
A very pleasant taxi driver took us out to Donnybrook (obviously not related to the one Julie and I had the misfortune to come across in Cork last October) and we were made welcome with a glass of wine or soft drink in the reception area. It was lovely to see familiar faces and meet some new people, in all there were 250 in the audience, although there were about 20 in our group. A continuous video was running with Brian singing the three songs, then it was announced we would be asked to vote twice whilst in the studio, once on first being seated and again when we had heard the songs live.
Our party did not all sit together, but Helen, Catherine and I had very good seats opposite the 'interview area' and several rows up the tiering so we had an unobstructed view of the whole studio. There were only five seats on the row and the other two were occupied by two more 'senior' ladies - one who seemed to spend most of the evening rootling in her handbag and the other complaining about the draft coming up the side of where she was sat!
Two hours just flew by - the programme was varied - this year's songs and the songwriter's being interviewed, the competition, the look back to past years, live performances by previous winners.... Of course we were there to see Brian who looked so smart in his lovely suit and pink shirt. Sitting where we were we could see the 'singing area' being set up and the artistes preparing themselves. It was a tough decision between Brian's song and Don Mescall's when asked to vote the second time, both were lovely. By this time Brian was 'the man in black' with a change of outfit in which to sing the winning song. When it was announced it was his, and he went over to prepare to sing again, it seemed as though he had to sort of 'gather himself' - hardly believing what he had heard - appearing to breathe in deeply and shrug his shoulders up and down a few times. Of course another faultless performance was given.
When leaving the studio a few of us were waiting around to all leave together and Pat Kenny came over to ask if we were Brian's fans! Very nice of him to acknowledge us and have a bit of a chat. On the way to order a taxi at reception we passed Don Mescall and his family - told him we thought his song was lovely too and hoped it did well for him. We were not flying back until late Saturday evening so were able to be at Celtic Note for Frances Black's performance - an unexpected bonus - we were there about an hour and a half listening to her singing, accompanied by her daughter Aoife, and two excellent guitar players.
More refreshments had been taken in Wicklow Street and the trip was finished off with a visit to an Italian restaurant for our pre-flight sustenance (just in case of delays you understand). All this walking is hungry work! We collected our luggage from the B&B and went to the bus stop - only to find it was out of service that weekend due to a large crane being dismantled across the road!!! Time was running short so we stopped a taxi. Julie Howes was at the airport too so we travelled home together to East Midlands airport, Helen and Catherine to Edinburgh. All in all a really great two gastromic and musical days for a very special evening - so thanks to all, those who made it possible and everyone involved in the Friday evening. I think I can say we all thoroughly enjoyed what will be something to remember for many a year, in fact every year when the Eurovision comes round.
Joe and I made the recording of the 'Late Late Show' last night. We enjoyed it very much. There was a drinks reception before the show, and the monitors were playing Brian's recordings of the three songs so that the audience could familiarise themselves with them. W were told, we would be asked to vote during the show.
Our seats were to the far right just in front of the performers stage, which was fantastic! The studio was much smaller than I thought it would be, very interesting to watch the old pros at work, with all the tricks they employ re the applause etc. A very funny guy warmed up the crowd before Pat Kenny came on, he was hysterical, and all the constant re-working of the stage light boxes for the different acts which the interviews were going on! It all runs very smoothly.
Brian wore a silver grey silk suit and a pink shirt with his hair a lot shorter, but then I haven't seen him in months. He looked absolutely gorgeous, so composed and handsome and very articulate and diplomatic when it came to discussing the way all three songs would be performed. (One song had been disqualified because it had been published before submission). I also could not help noticing his fabulous shoes, black leather, which fitted him like little gloves, so elegant!
Brian was in great voice, he gave every song an individual style. Already he had made them all his own. I was in no doubt which song I was voting for when I heard it outside in the reception, I just knew the way those minor chords hit me in the heart it had to be the one he had written himself; 'Every song is a cry for love", just beautiful. I could feel the tears in the back of my eyes and it was very hard for me to hold them back when he performed it there live in front of us. I think the simplicity of the song and the beautiful honest lyrics are the strength of it.
On the second half of the show he changed into black dress pants, black satin jacket and shirt! I could see him singing the lyrics along with the playbacks!! Brian performed the song after very graciously accepting the fact that he won. Brian said "he had never won anything in his life before!"
There were performances by Dicky Rock, Niamh Kavanagh and Linda Martin who by the way is absolutely beautiful in person, she smiles a lot and what a voice, so tall and elegant. It was fun to see how these performers are one moment waiting talking to their band, fiddling with the straps of her shoes etc, next minute, lights, camera and the stage persona takes over!! Everyone one of them still professional, still working and still amazing singers - still smiling.
It was a very special night, to be there to see Brian perform his own song and win with it, just to feel the vibes, sooooo good. I'm still sending him the good vibrations!! I bet he didn't sleep all night. Take care, Love and light always Eileen
Joan Byrne, Cork.......
Please pass my congratulations on to Brian for doing himself so proud last Friday night with his superb performance and for writing the winning song! He is a credit to Ireland and will be a great Ambassador for us, regardless of any results.
He seems to be on a roll at the moment and he deserves every ounce of success he achieves. I think people really stood up and took notice of him following his breathtaking performance at George Bests funeral.
I have been a fan of Brian's since the very beginning. If anyone asked me before who was my favourite male singer, I was often met with "Brian Who?" I don't think I will ever have to explain myself again.
Regards and best wishes to Brian always.
Hi Brian, I am sooooooooooo happy for you Brian you played a blinder last Friday. I was glued to the TV. on Friday. I must have voted a million times for Song C! My friends rang me and we were screaming on the phone because we were so happy your song won.
I heard you say that your new album is out in April. I can’t wait. Lots of Love Audreyxx
Muirne Lawlor (Teacher and Choir Mistress)
Please pass on a big CONGRATS to Brian on all his performances tonight on the Late Late Show and especially on winning with his own song - of course we all voted for it!
Richard Kelly ofm......
Dear Brian, I am writing to congratulate on winning the best song entry for the Eurovision and on your stunning performance on the Late Late Show on Friday evening. You have an amazing talent and you have a truly beautiful voice...a rare gift indeed. I have also heard you being interviewed on TV and Radio and you have such a wonderful personality filled with sensitivity, courtesy, respect and humour. I have felt that too when I have seen and heard you performing live in Belfast and Dublin.
Anyway I just wanted to let you know that I think you will be a great ambassador for Ireland in Athens. I want to wish you every success in all your preparations and planning for the Song Contest in May.
Good luck and every blessing on all your efforts. Blessing and Peace, Richard Kelly ofm
Hey Brian, Congrats on your fab win Friday night. Was delighted you won with your own song. You will be the perfect ambassador for this country to represent Ireland in the Eurovision and I know you'll do us all proud...good for you. Bye for now and best wishes to you again. Eugene