It’s safe to say I’ve never been a big concert-goer. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s just a small matter of never being in the right city, country or continent at the exact time with enough cash to afford it and the necessary means to get there. Add to that the years spent pregnant, lactating or sleep deprived from small children and the window of opportunity shut even further.
I think the last concert I actually went to was – and here I hang my head in shame and embarrassment – Vanilla Ice at the BIC in Bournemouth about 20 years ago. What can I say? A friend was a fan, we were buoyed up on ‘end of term madness’ and, to our still developing 16-year old brains, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
So anyway, roll forward 2 decades and some musical taste later and Take That announced their ‘Progress Tour’. I vowed that for once, regardless of cost or logistics, I would finally find a way to go. So on the day the tickets were released I spent 12 hours on the phone and Internet simultaneously, desperately trying to find a way to get me inside any venue south of Glasgow. Needless to say that, along with much of the country, I failed miserably and ended up with nothing more to show for my efforts than a crick in the neck and a rather sweaty handset. After 20 years of not making an effort to get any tickets it was a rather deflating moment I can tell you.
As luck would have it my husband, who having never been to a concert of any sort was equally keen to go, eventually managed to lay his hands on those prized golden tickets. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have to kill anyone, donate an organ he still requires or sell our souls to a loan shark to get them, but to be honest, I was so happy to know we were going I thought it better not to ask.
Roll forward to last week and we were finally driving off with a spring in our ‘out of the house without offspring’ step. We made it from rural Norfolk to the scary streets of London in great time; unfortunately it took us ever so slightly longer and one argument later to find a car park. It seems that even the most intelligent sat nav (and it’s user) can confuse a ‘car park’ with a brick wall at the end of a deserted street.
Forward some more and we were racing through multiple tube stations and heading for Wembley, along with, or so it seemed, the entire membership base of the ‘That Take Fan Club’. A fairly female fan club as my husband pointed out, suddenly panicking that he was going to be the only member of a 85,000 audience sporting stubble.
I don’t think the enormity of the event hit me until we emerged into the sun and saw the sheer size of the crowd making their way towards the arena. It was intimidating and exhilarating in one hit and not really the ideal venue for those who don’t do big crowds. After queuing for a life time to get into the men’s toilets (the queue for the ladies was considerably longer) and parting with far too much money for the obligatory T-shirt, we walked in to secure our spot near the stage.
Had I been more prepared and considered how long we’d be waiting, I might have brought a picnic, a rug and some comfy cushions. Other more experienced concert-goers unpacked their cheese, crackers and sandwiches around us and settled back in relative comfort. Having spent most of the spare cash on the said obligatory T-shirt, we sat on the plastic matting with the remaining 2 packets of rice cakes and a bottle of water.
As for the concert itself, well what can I say. Once we’d got the Pet Shop Boys over with (could they really not have got anyone better?) and the music started, it was an amazing 2 1/2 hours of jumping, screaming, singing and shrieking. We weren’t that far back from the stage but some inconsiderate large people decided to stand in front of me, so thank god for the large screens and my newly laser eyes. I spent much of the time on my tip toes with my arms flapping above my head. Bizarrely enough on this occasion high heels would have actually been more comfortable than Converse. Who knew.
The set was great, the theatrics were incredible and Take That themselves…well what can I say. They were everything you imagine them to be in concert and more. Robbie in particular looking wired (although I’m sure he wasn’t) and particularly manic throughout and was obviously put on this planet purely to entertain.
Determined not to get caught up in the crowds, miss the last train and get left with an enormous taxi bill we couldn’t afford (down to that obligatory T-shirt again), my husband dragged me back through the crowds the moment they stopped singing. He did let me listen to some of the encore from the top of the steps, but with the 5 of them still warbling on stage we ran, sprinted and weaved our way out of the stadium, down all the steps, along the very long street and through the countless mounted police there to control the 85, 291 buzzing concert-goers about to leave.
Witnessing the sea of people coming up behind us, all heading for the same rather narrow walkways of the tube station, I have to say I’m rather glad my sensible husband didn’t let me stay any longer than we did. For once he was absolutely right – though don’t tell I said that.
Obviously I didn’t want to forget the night, so I spent much of the time waving my camera above the crowd and alternating between taking photos (below) and video clips. These are for me to look back at in years to come so I can remember that night I dragged myself off the sofa and up to Wembley – and for anyone out there who wanted to go, tried to get tickets and didn’t.
And finally, here are the lessons learned from my experience:
1. Make sure your husband knows just how much you want those tickets.
2. Wear shoes suitable for walking, running, sprinting, jumping & excessive standing.
3. Take as many supplies as you can fit into a back pack – and a husband to hold it.
4. Buy a souvenir T-shirt beforehand. Preferably somewhere cheaper. Like Tescos.
5. Hide your water before going in, being searched and losing it.
6. Be prepared to wait – for quite a long time.
7. Be prepared to queue for a loo – or sip fluids sparingly and cross your legs.
8. Don’t stand next to shrieking, tone-deaf girls who sing louder than the main act do.
9. Edge to the back of the stadium and start running before the music stops.
10. Don’t waste money on pricey seats; pay less & stand, there’s far more atmosphere.