Last night the Secret Squirrel Book club went on our first ever road trip. (It’s so much more than your average book club).
One of our elite group is a dedicated Erasure fan and has been for nigh on 25 plus years. And being the loyal bunch that we are, when she asked if any of us would like to accompany her to see them in concert, we all agreed in a very Musketeer-like fashion. So tickets were purchased, plans were made, Pizza Express was booked and the day finally arrived.
We set off about 4pm and I think it is testament to how well we all get on that at least 2 of us had brought along sweets for the journey and the conversation on the way covered topics such as who had AA cover in case we broke down; whether we should leave our coats in the car before the “gig” (how hip!); and Suzanne’s potty training success or lack of (her training her son and not her personally). Poor Claire had at least four people (not including the sat nav) trying to tell her which lane to be in for the right way to go on the M25. She already knew. They didn’t realise she knew. No-one needs four back seat drivers but not one cross word was uttered. How very civilised.
We arrived in good time and parked right outside the rather new and gleaming venue in Guildford. Lovely dinner at Pizza Express, pre-gig. Rose wine anyone? Ooh yes. Starters? Ooh yes. Mains, naturally. Pudding? Oh I couldn’t, but if everyone else is then it would be rude not to. But no! Pudding is taking too long to arrive and Erasure are on stage at 8.30pm……it’s 7.50pm and pudding is still not here……Sarah is getting fidgety. Ah relief, pudding at last. Should we get the bill while we eat pudding? Yes! Where’s the waitress?! The trials of the middle-aged, not wanting to make a fuss, how can we be polite while still making her know we want her to come over here right now so we can pay the bloody bill?! We’ll put our coats on! Hurrah, the bill is paid, we have got our respective change and we are off!
Coats dumped in car – I’m not giving up my scarf though – and toilet stop completed, we finally found our way into the auditorium and got a great spot fairly near the front and reasonably close to an exit (my claustrophobia had to be taken into account). Sarah was happy that she would be close enough to her idol and then after a short wait (while some classic 80’s tunes were playing) the lights dimmed and it started.
There’s something about live music that really works for me. I love the way that otherwise very ordinary people can come alive on stage and transform into an absolute superstar, either singing or playing an instrument (or a computer screen in the case of Vince Clarke). I’m pretty sure I could pass Andy Bell on the street and not think twice about it, but on stage he was incredible. Yes, his outfits were pretty outrageous (gold sequinned hot pants anyone?) and he camped it up massively for the audience, but boy he can sing. I can completely understand why people get addicted to fame. To be able to command a crowd just by singing a few words of an absolute classic song from over 20 years ago must be a very satisfying thing to do. They were as good as I remember them being all those years ago and despite having released many many more albums since their heyday in the 80’s they know they’re audience and only played 4 of their new songs, concentrating instead on the golden oldies. I thought I would only know 4 or 5 of their most popular songs but as the evening progressed I lost count of the times that I said “oh yes! I’d forgotten this one!” and was able to sing along quite happily with the rest of the (mostly middle aged) crowd.
The only thing I find excruciating about going to any live music event is my lack of dancing ability. I LOVE music. I can’t imagine a life without music in it. I love to sing. Not well but not badly. But I CANNOT dance. I have no sense of rhythm and in my teens was constantly ridiculed by my peers for my lack of any timing or basic ability to move. This has not improved in adulthood. So, although I was in my element listening to and singing along to the brilliant music, I did feel a bit of a wally doing my bog-standard toe tap and occasional ever-so-slight shoulder wiggle.
And then, all too soon, it was over. No panic about being in a crowd. Legs not aching too badly from standing up for two hours. Ears ringing and chest thumping from the incredibly close speakers, but in a really good way. It was fab and I’m very glad that we all decided we should go. All for one and one for all.