Well, everyone, Raul was absolutely sensational last night – I have seen him perform many times (though never enough) and he has never been more brilliant than in Oxford yesterday! The whole day had been a good one for me – I’ve had a hell of a week with an inspection at work on Thursday and Friday – we did well with some outstanding features which was great! So I was really set up for a great weekend; I had my Gaelic class in the morning which was good fun as usual then I set off to drive to Oxford.
The venue was the Holywell Music Room which was built in 1742 and is beautiful, it suited Raul perfectly! Many very famous people have played there, including both Hayden and Handel… and now Raul Malo!
The motorway traffic flowed well and I arrived in plenty of time. I left my car at the hotel and took a taxi into the city – and was driven by a most intelligent and interesting man who dropped me right outside the venue.
As we drew up outside the Holywell Music Room , there was Raul standing outside on his phone! I gazed at him from across the road for a few moments then walked on to find a drink, leaving him to make his call. I found a very nice pub, the King’s Arms which is even older than the music room.
I had a glass of wine and did some people watching then drifted back to the venue so I could be first in the queue – you can’t book seats so I wanted to be able to get a good place to sit. I hadn’t been there long when we were joined by about thirty Spanish people from Barcelona, some wearing cowboy hats and looking very smart. At last the doors opened and we rushed in and I sat right near the low stage, almost within touching distance. Although attractive, the antique seats weren’t that comfortable but honestly, did I care?
Alyssa Bonagura, Raul’s support came on. She is most exceptionally beautiful, talented and nice young lady. I had seen her in Bristol two weeks previously, and although she had a cold, she sang wonderfully.
There was a brief interval were only just back in our seats and then Raul came bounding onto the stage with Michael Guerra. They had an enthusiastic greeting from the audience and then launched into their set. Raul was sensational, magnificent, I have never heard him sing better and he looked just gorgeous! He was his usual funny, witty, charming self -and the audience responded. The Spanish lady next to me who looked alarmingly like my boss could hardly keep sitting down (and I’m sure it wasn’t just the uncomfortable bench seating) and her friend opposite was dancing in her place. I thought she was going to launch herself at Raul at one point when he sang “I said I love you.” Even the serious Sikh gentleman sitting in the front row was tapping his feet and nodding in time to the music.
I was so excited when Raul sang “Oh what a thrill” because I always think he sings “O girl, in a moment, I may kiss your lips, Lois, been a while since I felt like this” He also sang one of my all time favourites “Hot Burrito No 1.” I had not heard him sing “Smile” before – not a favourite song of mine, but you know, he could sing a telephone directory and “Smile” was magic.
Raul and Michael returned for an encore and brought Alyssa on stage with them. They looked as if they were having as much fun as the audience who were almost beside themselves with enjoyment, giving standing ovations during the songs as well as after – clapping, stamping, singing along, a real party atmosphere.
All too soon the party was over. The Spanish people and a crowd of others were staying to see Raul but I slipped away. A truly fantastic night! Thank you so much, Raul, you really were magnificent, in every way.
These are some of the songs he played, not in the right order, and no doubt with many missing:
Matter Much To You
One More Angel
You’re Only Lonely
Dance the Night away
O what a thrill
Hot Burrito No 1
Around the world in 80 days
I said I love you
Every Little Thing About You
… and many more which elude me!