April 22, 2009

LIBERA in CALIFORNIA (pt. 2)

The concert started around 7:30PM but I could still feel the traces of the Californian sun. It was an absolutely lovely and relaxing concert as if the world has stopped spinning for two hours and we were sucked into this wonderful alternate universe. Sadly I don't recall each and every song in detail but I can assure you that they were all incredible.

I thought "Secret" was exceptionally sensational as it started off with the boys slowly taking steps backward and spreading out to make a little passageway for Josh as if a gigantic white lily was blooming on the stage. At the center of that magnificently blossomed lily, Josh stood. Then he gracefully took steps forward, singing the verses of Secret. He looked beautifully calm and composed through the entire song. It was like seeing a swan elegantly floating on a pond. I was completely mesmerized by his sweet voice and breathtaking presence. It was like a dream.

While Kavana was giving a little talk to the audiences, I spotted Stefan sprinting up to the higher side of the stage and got ready for "Salva Me". Then he took a deep breath and put his hoods up. He effortlessly executed the high notes on "Salva Me" (as he did twice already in that morning) as if it was easy as breathing. When the song ended, the same procedure took place in reverse: he took off the hood, took a deep breath, sprinted down to the stage to his spot between Ralph and JB, and sang "Sanctus" like nothing had happened. Such a pro!

Speaking of the little ones, I would like to express how incredible they were. Their white robes looked notably big on them, but their voices went higher than the top of the cathedral and echoed through every inch of that place. If someone had told me that they have a special place inside their little bodies to create those voices, I would have believed. It was that amazing. The big ones like Josh, Liam, Mini Ben and Ed were equally, or even more unbelievable. Their talking voices were so much deeper now (Liam's voice actually cracked a couple times as he spoke) but when they sang, it was just like... how the heck did you just do that?! It was so awesome. I think these boys are just living wonders! 

After the intermission, Flynn, Mini Ben, Liam, Josh, Ed and Stefan stood in a group at the end of the stage to get ready for "Sakura". While they were waiting for the song to start, many people took the liberty to take their pictures and camera flashes beamed from every direction. I also wanted to snap a picture but I didn't. Anyway, the second half of the concert started as those six boys slowly walking down from the end of the stem part of the T-stage, singing beautifully harmonized "Sakura". The song was shorter than I had expected. Wish it was a bit longer. "May The Road Rise Up" soon followed and I'm pretty sure everyone instantly fell in love with Flynn's dreamy and soothing voice. He seemed very comfortable and confident singing a solo in front of thousands of people. Frankly, I really enjoyed watching the facial expressions on Flynn and Kavana. They were so cute! :)

Ed was the soloist for "Mysterium". Everyone put their hoods up and slowly moved around. It was amazing that no one tripped or bumped into another person. They were flawless! I guess practice really makes perfect. ;) Ed's voice was phenomenal. It was so pure and powerful to the point that it gave me chills down to the spine! Solid! Wish I could hear some more of Ed solos... I think he also did a fair amount of high notes in "Sacris Solemnis" with Stefan.

Mini Ben was soooo adorable during his little talk. He was like an actor, throwing his arm in the air and changing his voice theatrically. I think he loves entertaining people and of course, everyone was delighted and enchanted by him. I think he would enjoy doing plays and musicals. He definitely has what it takes!

For "Stay With Me", Liam went up to the higher stage where Stefan was stationed for "Salva Me". When Liam started pulling those crazy high notes, my jaw literally dropped. When I heard him talking earlier that day, I was actually a bit worried if he could hit all those high notes. Well, Liam blew me and my doubts away altogether. He proved me wrong three times that day: in "Sancte", "Stay With Me" and "Libera"! Along with Liam, Daniel did a great job too, but I guess he was a bit nervous on the stage. It's okay Daniel, you have years of Libera experience waiting for you to shine! :) When the song ended, I spotted something through the dimming lights. It was Ed and Josh cheering up Daniel by padding his head and shoulders. It was lovely to see the boys encourage and support each other as a team. Aw, they really are a big happy family! Later I also saw Josh and Mini Ben giving each other a little pound with satisfaction when they perfectly executed "Going Home".

Something happened at the curtain call: Josh and Kavana LOL-ed and Kavana almost missed his bow because he was laughing so hard! Wonder what it was! Although I was expecting "How Can I Keep From Singing" as an encore like they did in Japan, there was none. We hung around and waited there for nothing. Meh. So when we arrived the building where the autograph session was held, the line was already pretty long. Only 10 boys (Stefan, Kavana, Flynn, Ed, Mini Ben, Josh, Alex, Daniel, Liam, and Sam) were sitting at the table and 13 others were walking around the crowd with the offer of will baskets. The first team to come by us were JB and Zach. As they were walking toward us, I was already taking my wallet out as if it was an unconditioned reflex. Lol. I'm telling you, they know how to raise money!

I can't get over how adorable mini James was! He and Oliver were a pair. They passed the baskets to each other when one of them was signing an autograph. Sometimes Mini James would look up to Oliver and say "Oli" with his little voice to get his attention. It was really, really, really, like out-of-this-worldly cute. Unfortunately, my sharpie was running out when mini James put his signature. Oliver noticed it and offered his! :) That was so kind! My friend gave mini James a small box of caramel and he looked so happy! In fact, he waved the caramel box to Big Ben, who was videotaping the moment. Uh oh.

The new ones were genuinely delighted when people recognized them and called them by their names. Thank goodness I took my time to memorize their names before the concert! ;) When I went up to Alfie, suddenly I wasn't sure that it was him. The boys look so much cuter in real life than in those profile pictures you know. So I was like, "you are... Alfie, right?" and he nodded and smiled as he was signing on my CD. Then he said, "you're the best!" haha. What a huge compliment for remembering a name!! I also remember little Freddie and his special signature. It took him good three seconds to carefully write down his name in big cursive letters! SO CUTE. I got signatures from total 21 boys and Steven & Big Ben. Somehow I missed Ralph and Sammy! :(

The long line finally moved up and it was my turn to meet the boys at the table (the boys came up to you with baskets so we didn't have to leave the line). I congratulated each on his successful performance and each replied with a polite thank you. :) I told Kavana that I hope his cold gets better (saw him sneezing) and told Ed how he sounded awesome in Mysterium. Oh, speaking of Ed... I thought he also did solo in "Sacris Solemnis", so I tried to tell him about it and get a confirmation. Except it came out something like, "Hey Ed, great job on Mysterium and Sa...Sac...Sacris something something..." lol. My Latin is hopeless and I still don't know if Ed soloed "Sacris Solemnis".

You bet I was so psyched to see mini Ben again. I was like "MINI BENNNN!!" and he replied, "YAAAYYY" hahaha. I told him that I'll see him on Broadway someday and he laughed and said thank you. Mini Ben has the cutest pair of dimples when he smiles! He signed his name on all 3 CDs (I had 2 CDs of Eternal and a concert DVD). I didn't mean to get all of them signed. I put different ones down for different boys but at one point they all got mixed up! I thanked him again for signing so many although he didn't have to! Mini Ben was a bundle of joy and I really enjoyed every little encounter with him. Take care mini Ben, till next time! :)

I took one step to the right and found myself standing in front of Josh. I let out "Hi Josh," which was a good start. His hazel eyes greeted first and said hi with a gentle smile. If this was made into an animation, this is where a big red sign flashes across the screen: CAUTION. ANGEL MAY FREEZE YOUR BRAIN. Yep. Nothing came after that hi and he finished signing my CD already. I had to say something now or I was gonna bang my head against walls all night. I finally said "Hey that was my favorite You Were There EVER." With a sign of appreciation reflected in his eyes, he replied "...aw...thank you!" wearing that famous smile. This one was just for me because I deserved it! (lol, I'm such a fan girl.)

Overwhelmed with happiness, I moved down the row to Daniel and Alex. Alex was nice enough to sign his name on all 3 CDs too. Thanks and sorry to make you sign all of them! Next was Liam. His big blue eyes recognized his signature that he signed earlier that day and said, "ohhh this one!" and signed his name on another CD. Then he looked at me and so innocently asked, "were you at the Japan concert?".... huh? Japan? I told him that I was from Boston. I could hear Liam's inner voice going, 'oh crap' as he stumbled on his next sentence, "oh! ohhh, right, riiiiiight... there was someone who looked like you in Japan." Liam was a terrible liar and I'm no better as I couldn't quickly come up with a better comeback. Just a pair of confused people staring at each other, trying not to say something stupid. I finally told him that 'well, um, I'm glad someone reminded you of... me?" with a tilted head and an awkward smile. FAIL. 

After getting autograph from Sam, I realized that I didn't shake hands with them. Since the line had become pretty short, I went back to the end of the line. Lol. Whatever. I knew I would have regretted it until now if I didn't do it. Ed's handshake (was more like a low-five) was the best. Then, Daniel greeted me with a friendly "Hello again!" hahahaha, oh the embarrassment! After I shook hands with Liam, I noticed a black line on his white robe. I just pointed at it and Liam was like "oh no.... SAMMM!" and gave a look at Sam who was totally puzzled. Lol.

Autographs, done. Hand shakes, done. Pictures, done. Time to go home? Oh sh*t, the gift!

Yes, I brought a small gift for Josh. Except I totally, totally forgot it had been hanging on my shoulders all night and blew away my chances. I really didn't wanna get on the line for the third time and have all the Libera members recognize me again. Too much attention from the angels isn't good for my cerebrum! I was standing across from them, thinking what I should do. I learned it much later that you can actually give it to any Libera staffs or chaperons. However as a new fan, I had no idea. Would've been much easier (and less embarrassing) if I had known!  

So the biggest obstacle was a wall of people between me and Josh. Clock was ticking and I was getting a little antsy. What should I do? What can I do? Then a miracle happened: my new favorite, a true English gentleman mini Ben's eyes caught mine. How? Who knows, but YAY! I sent him a desperate puppy eyes. Shameless, yes, but at least I had decencies left not to let my voice out. Our eyes met but our hearts obviously weren't connected to exchange some random stares. His head tilted a little in confusion, so I pointed my finger at Josh. LOL. I know, it's terribly embarrassing and amateurish. But he nodded, poked Josh in the arm like five times, pointed finger back at me and said, "the girl over there...(people moved and couldn't make out the rest)" Alriiiiiight! Josh tried to look over and see what's up but his view was well blocked by the fans in front of him. And I was good 10ft away from the signing table. This eye-tag repeated for some time and I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty hilarious.

Alas, I don't remember how I gave the gift bag to him. I somehow did. I didn't know that excessive amount of excitement can cause memory lapses?! Josh tried to peek inside the bag but there still was a line of fans awaiting for his signature. So he placed the bag under the table and went back to his Libera business. When the autograph session was finally over (other 13 boys were already gone by then), Josh took out the shopping bag and put it on the table. The remaining boys huddled around him with curiosity. I was initially relieved that Josh looked somewhat excited to get a gift, but I also felt really, REALLY bad (almost guilty) that I was stupid not to think ahead and get gifts for everyone. Sorry. I'm stupid :'(


The picture above explains how light they must had felt at the end of the day. It was like 10:30PM? They were all joyfully jumping and running and giggling. I heard Josh (far left with a bag) running up to Big Ben and said something like "look what I got!" and showed him what was inside the bag. I guess it's a good thing that I didn't have time to wrap them? Lol. They must have been really happy that the long day was finally over and that they were going home the next day! It was a long day for me too. A long, happy day. Mini Ben looked back and waved at us a multiple times (I think it's him waving in the picture). Mini Ben... why are you so amazing? I wish I had a brother like him. I bet everyone does ;)

Ah- that's it. Thank you Libera for a beautiful memory. Thank you -yes, you- for reading this wickedly long blog. Here are some pictures taken by me and my friend.


Mini James who stole our hearts.
The cropped person on the left side is me. lol 


Stefan, Kavana and Flynn


The signing table


A lovely smile from little Kav!


Flynn. Sorry, my camera was crap and didn't do justice capturing him.


The autograph session is a serious business!


Josh




Mini Ben and Josh. Best picture of the night!


Liam


Josh carrying my gift bag after the autograph session.
The guy in suit next to Liam is a Crystal Cathedral staff, not a weirdo.
I presume the man in blue shirt also a cathedral staff member.


Stefan, Kav and Flynn. They are so little!



The signing group.
Rest of the boys who walked among the crowd with donation baskets left early.

LIBERA in CALIFORNIA (pt. 1)

Just got back from 100-degrees-everyday California. Boston's early morning was wet and chilly enough to see my own breaths bloom and vanish in the blue-gray of dawn. Whoever first called this area 'New England' is pretty damn accurate. I hope the weather in London was more welcoming when the boys took their first steps into their homeland.

I have to say that California was awesome. It was a good break from school to hang out with my Cali friends, go to the beautiful Malibu and Santa Monica beaches, have a shopaholic's moment at the 3rd street Promenade, dining at famous restaurants and bars in West Hollywood, and get a haircut at last. Of all the lovely memories of sunny California, seeing Libera was unquestionably the best.

My friend and I arrived at Crystal Cathedral around 9:25AM. We were bit overwhelmed by the size and design of the church. When we entered the magnificent architecture, Libera was already up on the stage, ready to sing at any moment. It was such a lovely greet! On the other hand, I wasn't mentally ready to encounter Libera like that. The morning mass began as we found our seats at the back of the massive church. Yawning and rubbing their sleepy eyes, Libera created the beautiful sound of "Sanctus". They still sounded fantastic early in the morning! Just an FYI- video and photo were allowed during the morning masses because they were to be televised on Hour of Power anyway! 

"Far Away" was followed by Sanctus. Mini Ben's clear voice echoed and bounced off the all-glassed church. He made a little mistake during the actual concert, but they were perfect in the morning masses. I was just really happy and feeling lucky to hear mini Ben's version of Far Away 3 times that day! Kavana supported mini Ben with high notes. The kid is amazing! He was so cute with his little head bopping!

Stefan was like the hidden MVP of the day. His strong and piercing voice in "Salva Me" was simply amazing. There was no sign of nervousness whatsoever. Very reliable. It was my first time hearing Stefan's solo, but I was already building my trust in him. I particularly loved the little choreography in this song. My biased mind found Josh's choreography exceptionally graceful. ;)

The interviews (9:30AM and 11:00AM) were great chance for my friend to take some pictures of them. After the short interview, they introduced "Gloria" and went back to the stage. I could feel the sun blazing right above my head. It indeed was the hottest April day of my life because I was wearing a sleeveless dress and still felt melting down! I wondered how the boys felt under those body-covering white robes. Do they not have some lighter material robes for summer? At least the color isn't black!

I've seen some comments about Josh not smiling much. I think it's a little ridiculous. It was 100 degrees outside and he had two masses and a concert to execute. Yeah I also noticed that he was "less smiley" when he was singing but he was pleasant and polite enough during the interviews and autograph session. If you're worried about a 14 year-old kid being less smiley, I think you're worrying a little too much.

We didn't want to hear the guest speaker twice (her story was very touching tho) my friend and I sneaked out after Libera finished "Gloria". We got lost in the massive campus and saw 5 Libera boys walking by. I told Mini Ben, "you were sooooo good!" and he gave me this cutest 'I-am-flattered' smile and his mouth formed an inaudible "thank you." Big Ben brushed Mini Ben's head like a proud brother. Aww :)

Minutes later, we spotted the entire group like half a mile away. They looked like a bunch of white bunnies hopping around from afar. Lol. While we were sitting at a bench, the whole 23+ of them walked towards us. They didn't really seem to care about us but obviously we were kinda freaking out inside but trying our best to stay calm. Mini Ben noticed us and gave us a smile. Aww miniii Bennn!

I think we started to form a line around 5PM there was less than 10 people on the line and we quickly grew bored and hot. Wicked bored and hot I must say. So we went to the building next door where they had a gift shop and a cafeteria to get a CD for my friend and cool off.

The first floor of that building was an open area with sofas and tables. No walls or doors on the front. As we got closer to the building, we could see the boys hanging around the sofa area. We thought about turn around and return to the line. I think we wanted to keep good distance from them because... oh I don't know, people can't get too close to the angels, right? Look what happened to Icarus when he got too close to the Sun! Anyway the thought of turning around got melted under the sun because it was just too hot outside and we had to cool off. So we marched forward. 

When we entered the gift shop, we saw JB and Kavana standing in the line for a checkout. I've never seen a Libera boy this close up before, so I kinda froze there. My friend wasn't a fan but she didn't know what to do either. Would it be polite to say hi? or would it be polite to leave them alone? Right, it would be polite not to stare at them first. We concluded that we didn't want to spoil their "being normal boys at a shop in America" moment. My friend picked out a Libera CD and we joined the checkout line.

Apparently we got there just a couple steps before this tiny boy called James Mordaunt. He was so tiny! I didn't want him to get lost (in a gift shop? come on) so I told him he can go first so he can queue behind Kavana who was also very little. Oh, a funny story about him- Kavana picked out a green pencil at the counter and seemed so genuinely happy that I had to bit my lips not to laugh. You might be a member of a world-class choir, but you're still just an incredibly normal kid! Ok, back to mini James after I told him to go ahead of us. He looked up, smiled sleeplessly and said "thank you very much" in his cute British accent. Omigosh. That probably was the cutest thing I've ever heard! I wanted to shout out, "you are very, VERY welcome!" but I just smiled instead. While we were mesmerized by mini James' out-of-this-world cuteness, Jakob and Liam stood behind us. 

I asked Liam how he liked California and his immediate response was, "it's hot, really hot," in their charming British accent. Then we saw someone towering over us -it was Big Ben- and yes, he was very, very tall. Anyhow, me and my friend got autographs from just Liam and Jakob and left the gift shop and to the cafeteria downstairs. When we came back to the line later it got a tad longer so we had more gains than losses! 

Some time after, the boys returned from the building as well and went in to the Cathedral. I think the sound check started around 6:30PM. Each boys came out and did a little vocal arrangement. They were only singing a bunch of ma's or counting one to eight in scale, but the sound was so heavenly! We were talking about how hot they must had been, all wrapped up in robes. The cathedral was made out of hundreds of transparent glass panels so the sun was also penetrating right though them. Some of the boys were lifting and flapping their robes to cool off. Personally, I absolutely hate when guys (and boys alike) wear socks above their ankles. I think they look so dorky and out of style. But, when I saw the long white socks under their robes, I changed my mind and thought it looked somewhat cute on them, in a very awkward way. hehe.

There was something wrong with Josh's microphone so a staff member came and adjusted it for him. Josh, totally unaware of the eyes of the fans glued to the glass wall, lifted his robe pretty high up to his waist. Then all dozen or two dozen of us outside could see just about everything: a pair of white socks awkwardly sticking above his ankles, skinny brown legs, and grey shorts coming down just above his knees. Oh, wow, my dear angel, you should be glad that I didn't take a picture. But it was priceless! 

Concert review to be continued in part two. Here's some pictures, all taken by my friend during the 11AM mass. Again, photo and video were allowed by the church. They were taken between songs and during the interview.  


Just ordinary boys from London.


Getting ready for a song.


They also sang a couple choral songs with the church choir.


Cheeky mini Ben! 


Flynn is adorable!


Interview time!


The priest told them a good joke I suppose :)


Meeting a fan from Florida. She was on a wheel chair.
If I remember correctly, her trip was sponsored by the Make A Wish foundation.


She was their fan and the boys extended handshakes to her. It was really nice.


Eyebrows!


I must have told my friend that Josh was my favorite. 
She took A LOT of pictures of him while I watching them.






!!!!! ANGEL ALERT !!!!!
This one is clearly my favorite. Thanks Ann! :D