Sunday the 11th of July 1999, Guildford, Civic Hall. The auditorium (1150 seats) is full. The majority of the audience, of course, is here for Art Garfunkel. There is no mention of Annie's name neither on the bills nor on the tickets. The souvenir brochure, however, contains a page dedicated to her.
At 20:15 she appears with Mickey Simmonds. She says she has to present herself, she is Annie Haslam. The reason why she is here tonight, participating to a benefit concert organized by The Cancer Research Campaign, is, she says, that she has herself survived to a breast cancer. She asks, "Do you remember a band called Renaissance?" About 10 to 20 percent of the audience applaud. She announces one of their most popular songs—"Carpet of the Sun"—and sings it accompanied by Mickey Simmonds' keyboards and by prerecorded music. The public applauds warmly.
She introduces "Seashell Eyes" by telling a story many fans already know: "Renaissance was thought to write the music for the animated movie The Last Unicorn but it never happened, the band America did it instead." However, Annie had written a poem for it. Recently David Biglin added a music to it and it became "Seashell Eyes." She sings it wonderfully as ever and once again the public applauds warmly.
The next song is "Blessing in Disguise." Annie says that Tony Visconti wrote it with her and that it's about her cancer. She announces the song will be released as a single in UK for the benefit of the cancer research. Her rendition of the song, tonight, is close to the one on "Live Under Brazilian Skies." Mickey Simmonds adds some backing vocals.
She asks him to check the sound of the piano. He does it by playing the theme from Laurel and Hardy's movies. She says it's OK but he plays on so she says "you're fired." Then she talks about the new Renaissance album. She says that Terry Sullivan is attending the show tonight and the audience applauds. She introduces one of the songs of the new album—"Eva's Pond"—and sings it with Mickey Simmonds playing. There's no prerecorded music on this one. I'm delighted by what I hear. It's difficult to describe a song, especially after only one listening but I'd say that it would be in the right place on a Renaissance album and that it doesn't remind me any other Renaissance song.
Then comes the last tune—"Northern Lights"—"a top ten we had in nineteen-seventy-hmmm..." she says. She asks to the audience to sing along with her. Not much success to this request, perhaps because the audience doesn't know the song very well. However they enthusiastically applaud at the end of the show.
Annie leaves the stage and immediately the lights are switched on and everybody rises from his seat. It's the break before Art Garfunkel's show. Impossible to ask for an encore.
Next rendez-vous is the 1st of October at the Astoria. I hope to meet some Renaissance fans there.
Websites Of Interest
The Cancer Research Campaign
Guildford Civic Hall