Yesterday morning I was in a right bad mood. With a giant sense of entitlement that only the truly grumpy can master, I was raging about the One Direction gig. I’d originally booked for the Friday night, so the late night wouldn’t be an issue for R, but that gig was rescheduled to the Sunday. This meant that we would be shlepping all the way to Greenwich (Greenwich ffs) on a freezing cold Sunday night, and would be getting back home at stupid o’clock when R had school the next day. I didn’t want to go.
As the time to leave drew closer, I started to get over myself. I saw lots of tweets from people wishing they were going and started to feel a bit guilty. What was the worst that could happen? Apart from deafness from the screams. R was bouncing off the walls in excitement, and it was hard to sustain the Grumplestiltskin attitude. Especially when faced with a ten-year-old whirling fiend of excitement. New clothes, new hair, new shoes, new glasses – she’d prepared for this like a bear would for winter.
We got there in plenty of time. One recommendation if you are going to the O2 and subscribe to Sky, then pre-book for Sky Backstage on the Rewards site. It’s fantastic, especially if going with kids. Everyone who works there must be told one thing – make everyone who comes through that door feel like a rock star. Which they did. If we were in a queue for anything, the staff would start talking away to us. I went to the bar and spent four quid on a bag of Randoms and you’d have thought I’d dropped the big bucks on a Jeroboam of Cristalle. There was free facepainting, massages, a pool table, and a 3D TV studio. The 3DTV studio was an early highlight. Watching two pre-teen girls rock out with their bad selves to “WMYB” in 3D television will cause you to pull a muscle in your sides. I am still sore.
The gig. I’ve seen 1D twice before. Once at Wembley as part of the X Factor tour, and then again at Hammersmith. I could not tell you anything at all about them, they made that little impression on me. I liked the thought of them, because my daughter and all my nieces love them and I have a lot of online friends who do too. For me that’s all they were – a band that people I liked, liked.
When we got onto the floor there was a man sitting behind us with his three tween daughters. They were hyper even before the gig started, and dad was just sitting there, bright yellow earplugs in, reading his book. He caught my eye and the two of us did the “OMG what have we let ourselves in for” eyeroll of sympathy.
I was hooked from the introductory video. It wasn’t “oh look at us, look at our wacky hijinks and we are going to have so much fun tonight and we don’t care about you”. It was fun, and charming and and said “We are going to make you have so much fun tonight”. Which they did.
Three songs in and grumpy dad behind us had chucked away his book and was up dancing and clapping. R started jumping up and down from the first song and didn’t stop until they left the stage. K, her fellow tween two years older than R, danced and sang and clapped all the way through it. J and I, the supposed responsible adults were right in there as well. How could I be churlish or not have fun when surrounded by so many people having a good time and 5 guys determined to give it to them?
All during the gig the band members were talking to each other and to the musicians in the backing band, off mic. When they were front of stage near the audience they would wave hello and start talking off mic to people below – at one point Harry was having a conversation with a fan and said, “oops, I’ve got to go” and ran centre stage for his solo. Near the end of the gig, Niall was chatting away to the audience for ages and Zayn stood up from left of stage, wandered over to the other end of the stage and whispered something into Louis’s ear. The two of them laughed and he wandered back to his stage position, the whole exchange for all the world like a guy who remembered that he had something to tell his pal.
They enjoy what they are doing, but it’s not like watching the cool kids having fun at the next table in the dinner hall while you’re sitting there with two sad digestives sandwiched with butter and drinking a Panda Pop. They’re constantly on the go, waving at fans, bouncing around, bringing everyone along with them. It’s impossible not to share the joy of it all.
I thought that I would go for a walk or go to the loo or fill my ears with hot buttered popcorn and writhe on the floor in agony during “One Way Or Another/Teenage Kicks”. Those are two songs that I don’t want anyone messing with. Yet again, my attitude has changed. During this song R flung herself at me, jumped on my back and threw her arms around me. The two of us bounced up and down, she was so filled with joy at this and was BELLOWING into my ear. How can you not love that? I get it now. 1D haven’t “stolen” my songs, I’ve still got them. These versions aren’t mine; I’ve got mine and R’s got hers, but for three minutes we shared them. I can enjoy both.
Zayn walks this way…
…and then he walks that way.
Harry – I thought Harry would be the “too cool for school” guy. Not a bit of it. He was right in there with them all, and his reactions and chats with the fans when he was off camera and off mic were funny and lovely.
Louis – Louis made me cry. I won’t say why, because I know people are going to see it and I don’t want to spoil it. But if you have seen it then you know what I am talking about.I was a useless mess.
Liam – During “Little Things” the crowd was singing back to them. He got all choked up and after the song when he was standing beside the keyboard player you could see him saying, “Did you hear that? Amazing. Incredible” and pointing to the crowd, then wiping his face with his hands. Big softie.
Zayn – He didn’t get much of a chance to talk to the crowd – Liam, Louis and Niall were taking all the best slots. Poor Zayn. He was always waving and smiling at fans.
Niall – God bless him. He got the biggest screams of the night. When he got a close up on the big screen, when he got a solo, when he got his guitar out or when he did anything the crowd went crazy.
At one point of the show One Direction go right overhead. As they approached R was going bats. She was jumping and waving and was glowing in excitement. Then Niall caught her eye and he waved and smiled at her. Oh my giddy aunt. The expression on her face. Just for that I will love him forever.
That’s all. We were going to leave before the encore to make sure we didn’t get stuck in traffic, but that was never an option once the gig started. With humour, chat and a fun stage show (and whoever is directing the big screen videos and also the live segments, they are brilliant.) we were there until the very end. And didn’t begrudge a minute of it.
R ran in to school this morning, absolutely shattered, but gave me a massive high-five as she was singing Kiss You. That morning a year ago when I sat with umptyump windows open on my PC, cursing to all while struggling to get tickets now feels like the best morning’s work I’ve ever done.