This has taken me a little while to get round to finishing. I feel like I’ve needed to be at school as much as the children with sports days, moving up days, school trips, meetings about moving up, end of term reports, costume making for end of term parties.
Where was I…ah, yes. The concert itself:
The husband had been a star and got four tickets to treat his lovely wife and lovely two sisters to see the now depleted band of three. He was coming along as well, but to be fair, their concerts are pretty Amazing.
As I proudly mentioned to anyone that I was off to see a Take That concert, I expected derision, but the information was met with excitement, ‘respect’ (maybe I imagined that) and the question of ‘How did you get tickets?’ Apparently they’d been a lot of competitions on the radio where you could win tickets. I listen to the radio a lot, but never heard a thing on Woman’s Hour and obviously missed the coded message during the afternoon play. Such a shame, I would have loved a second trip.
Nights out These Days are few and far between and tend to be a good meal with decent wine. There was the suggestion of food before the concert. What a grand idea. A babysitter was booked early and off we went Into the Wild to the great O2 in the middle of the afternoon on a school day. Such decadence. We ended up at one of those chain restaurants where the portions are the size of an obese child and my thoughts of wine were quickly dispelled as a jug of Woo Woo was ordered. I have no idea what is in this, and the arrival of the second jug didn’t help clarify those details.
Let In The Sun, we were OUT. Casting an eye around the other patrons, to judge the outfits of the other concert goers – we all do it, don’t pretend otherwise – I notice the various looks being modelled. Back in the day, a concert outfit was your best pair of jeans and that new top, but now it’s all changed. Mum outfits, by which I mean dresses from a decade ago, or the season before you first fell pregnant and were last able to go out and buy a dress; both money and opportunity quickly disappears on the birth of a first child. Perhaps, the odd dress bought for a wedding a couple of years ago getting a bit more use. Bucking this trend, I was unusually in something new, by which I mean a dress I’d found on a sale rack with the amazing words ‘2 for 1’ hanging above it. I know, dreamy words to find in a shop – I Like It. It’s just over 12 months old, which in my world equals brand spanking new. Footwear was mainly sensible flats with the odd dare devil opting for a wedge heel. If Take That were going to see their ankles, it was to be at the best advantage.
Woo Woos downed, meal completed, bill paid, Get Ready For It: venue time. The buzz of excitement mounts, Higher Than Higher. My sister in law starts leaping around photo bombing group Portraits. She does this a lot, it’s part of her charm. All was going as expected. We sailed along with the crowd to our entrance, which of course, was all the way around the other side. We passed the now empty queue lines for the standing tickets. A detritus of the remains of devoured take-outs and picnics lay alongside blankets, lilos and a giant rubber ring. When it comes to getting a good view, If You Want It, you’ve got to queue with commitment. There was an inner circle of standing tickets. This was a special, much coveted place indeed. The inner sanctuary, where you were likely to get a chance to actually touch the heroes themselves.
We were at the top, but in the front row. This was an important fact as it meant we set the precedent for dancing – and failed miserably. I was very conscious of the elderly couple sat hand in hand directly behind me. They didn’t look like they would be up dancing anytime soon. The show eventually started. We toe-tapped. The odd self-conscious shoulder movement and clap nodded to the fact that we were out at a concert. I wanted to stand but kept looking behind and no one else was. Finally, ‘Never Forget’ came on and as any Take That old-timer will know, it is illegal to sit during this song. We were finally up. Behind us, the rows followed. It finished, and then followed that awkward moment – do we stay standing or sit? Are concert-goers this self-conscious in other countries? We went for a second song. It was too much for the elderly couple, they had scarpered.
A side thought. I’ve never understood people that come to a concert and spend half the time ducking out to visit the bar. I don’t get it, you can go to the pub anytime, even straight after the show if you’re desperate, but why not watch the show? It doesn’t happen at the cinema or theatre. Can you imagine the outcry? Revellers popping out for a G & T every few minutes at the opera – society as we know it would end. There was a chap down the row, repeatedly pushing past the end of the row to get out the bar and back again. I may have been tempted to nudge him over the top of the barrier. I think I’m a reasonable person, but we all have our limits. The drinks are horrible, warm, flat and triple priced at a concert venue. What are you doing?
Annoying drinkers aside, it was one of those evenings when you wish time would Freeze for a bit. Happy songs, happy singers, happy show and happy audience, a moment where we all Lovelife. Magical and special and then it all came to an end. Two hours had sped past in fantastical splendour and it was time to make our way home.
Still on a high, shuffling towards the tube, surrounded by crowds of people who could barely stand up, either regretting the wedge heel or having made a few too many visits to the bar, singing out of tune and posing for selfies in their Mark / Gary / Howard masks. The husband asks if I’ve had a good night and I ask for the concert DVD for Christmas. He’s done well. He’s a keeper, but I knew that many years ago when I married him.
And then that’s that, off we trudge on our tube journey home, uncomfortably hot in the humid late night heat of London and it’s sauna-esque underground system and I suddenly feel old as I look down and notice swollen ankles for the first time in my non-pregnant life. The horror – I’ve been counting on these Take That concerts to keep me young. Ah well, I like to think I’ll still be going to their concerts with my walking stick, but for now it’s back to work, potty training and the school run. Until the next time.