Radio Recap – 14 April 2024

SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2024
Last Monday Michael Ball did something I found revealing. I’m not referring to the Music Man concert, although that was momentous indeed. No, I’m talking about his posting a backstage video of “On With the Show” on Instagram, with the caption: “I can’t believe it’s just over a week since the tour finished! We honestly had the best time and it’s all thanks to YOU! ❤️” This showed he hasn’t been able to shake the tour, that he measures the time in days since he left the stage on that final night. It also told us he absolutely LOVED doing that tour. In early interviews, Michael made a point of saying it had been 5 years since he’d done a solo tour. Yes, he was busy during those years – doing a musical in the West End and touring with Alfie – but those performances were different from a solo tour. In a stage production, Michael was surrounded by other actors. The cast was a team, united in their goal. With Alfie, Michael had his pal with him, and they always had each other’s backs. When you go out there alone, as Michael just did, it’s a whole different ball game.
“How are you, my lovelies? I’m in the new studio. It’s ever so posh. It’s like the Starship Enterprise. Anything can happen. But I’m stuck with you, so there you go …” And with a big giggle Michael plays Huey Lewis’ STUCK WITH YOU. “And my lovelies,” he continues, “for the next 2 hours, you’re stuck with me. Oh, yes, you are.” Trust me, Michael. We don’t mind. At all. 😉
On the Ball. The first contestant is Ellie, and Michael starts out by teasing her about her accent. She’s an utter delight, admitting to being a terrible cook but a good gardener, and telling a very funny story about a cooking mistake, which Michael admits he’s also done. The 2 of them also share funny bathroom stories – Michael at his most bawdy! Ellie is playing against her friend Andrea, who is a spiritualist and a “weird & wacky celebrant.” And she travels with a gong, which is capable of putting people to sleep. Andrea then starts off by picking THE MIDDLE ONE on the first question! Michael goes off, saying she doesn’t listen to the show, she doesn’t love him, etc, etc. You know how it goes – It makes Michael CRAZY when someone picks the middle one. 😂 And it was all downhill from there. Ultimately Michael calls her segment “A complete collapse,” but it DOES end in Michael giggling and giggling … This is actually a GREAT On the Ball! One more thing – after a music break, Michael urges people to sign up for On the Ball as “we’ve only got a few weeks left.”
Orna teases Michael about being in the new studio – he’s gotten a new toy! Michael is so excited, raising the desk up and down and playing with the new buttons on the console, seeing what they can do. Such a big kid. HOWEVER, no food or liquids are allowed in the studio, which makes Michael grumble. He said in Maida Vale they could have a 4-course meal! He’s dying for a cup of tea! All he wants is a cuppa!! This is Michael becoming an adorable 10-year-old-little-boy, one of my favorite sides of the man. When Orna returns later, Michael is still craving a cup of tea. He’s even willing to use a Sippy Cup. A SIPPY CUP! Orna suggests an extra-long straw from the other side of the window. Or many straws hooked together. 😂 Michael then shifts to talking about the Oliviers tonight, saying he’s wearing a blue tux with black lapels as a presenter. “And the shoes?” Orna asks. “Strapless.”
Helen Lederer is a British comedienne, writer and actress who began as part of the alternative comedy boom in the early 1980s. She has appeared in countless TV hits (including AB-FAB) and has been a presenter for lifestyle, religious and children’s programs. On April 11th, her autobiography NOT THAT I’M BITTER debuted to rave reviews. Helen is impressed with the new studio. Michael says he feels like he’s just been put onto the Starship Enterprise but no one told him how to work it. Helen talks about her book and says she wanted it to be funny, she wanted people to laugh, but she also wanted it to be honest, which Michael says it is. She also talks about how hard it was for women to break into comedy in the early days. They share how wonderful it is to be live in front of an audience but also how scary it is. Michael admits he loves being onstage or on the telly or radio live. It’s the biggest thrill, also the biggest fear, not knowing what will happen, and Helen agrees. It’s one of those conversations between 2 professionals that Michael does so well, and Helen Lederer is a delight.
Singer Marc Almond’s diverse career spans over four decades. He’s enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim, and he has sold over 30 million records worldwide. He is best known from the synth-pop/new wave duo Soft Cell and for his distinctive soulful voice and androgynous image. Almond spent a month in a coma after a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 2004 and later became a patron of the brain trauma charity Headway. He was appointed Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 2018 for his services to the arts and culture. In 2024 Marc Almond will release another cover album, I’M NOT ANYONE, accompanied by a tour of the UK. Michael opens the segment with Soft Cell’s TAINTED LOVE before they discuss (of course) the new studio, all the major equipment and how far apart they are for this interview. Marc’s been living in Portugal, and they discuss what a joy it is to grow your own vegetables. Then they move on to Almond’s new album, which Michael says doesn’t have the usual cover songs. Marc goes into great detail, admitting he chose the music carefully, picking things that connected to him emotionally. This leads to Almond talking about his upcoming tour of the UK and how much he loves performing live. Finally, I loved, loved, LOVED listening to them discuss the song GETHSEMANE (at the top of my list of songs sung by Michael). Their conversation swung all over the place, and every single bit of it was fascinating! Absolutely fascinating!!
And then it’s over. The 2 hours once again flew by, but what a great 2 hours. “Be safe. Be positive. And always be kind. I’ll see you next week,” Michael says at the close of the show. “God bless, my lovelies.”
People think legends like Michael Ball don’t get nervous. Michael himself has admitted he has a routine he follows religiously before going onstage. “I tap my fingers and cheekbones before going on stage to calm down. But nerves are necessary; if you ever lose them, it’s a bad sign.” People also believe that legends like Michael don’t feel insecure. It’s a myth. Insecurity goes with being an actor, even after you’ve proven yourself repeatedly. When a performer embarks on a new project, there are a million questions, most importantly: Will it be a success? Will I be a success? After 5 years of being surrounded by others onstage, Michael went back out on the concert circuit by himself. Yes, he had backing singers, but the audience came to see MICHAEL BALL, the star. He knew the show would rest on his shoulders alone, and that’s a lot of pressure for one person, especially after a long period away. Did he still have the charisma and talent to carry a 2-hour concert on his own? The answer was a resounding YES! After 40 years in the business, Michael Ball could still dazzle an audience with his velvet voice, could still move people to tears and cheers by standing center stage and telling a story with music, could still incite fans to get up and dance with joyful abandon, and could still make young ladies squeal with delight when he honored them with a kiss.
Many have said “On With the Show” was Michael’s best concert ever, which had to make his heart soar. Michael Ball will never lose the “it” factor, it is part of who he is, who he will always be. And when a concert like “On With the Show” is an enormous success and one of his greatest joys, he will mark the close of those glorious moments as time passes: “I can’t believe it’s just over a week since the tour finished. We honestly had the best time and it’s all thanks to YOU!