Yes, XFM Winter Wonderland tickets, that is exciting!! We were lucky enough to be given a couple of complementary tickets and looking at the line-up it should be brilliant!! Along with the ticket we were given Santa hats with a difference: Neil’s was red with a leopard fur trim, and mine pink with a black fur trim saying “angel” on it…..yes, that sounds about right!!

I left work an hour early just to make sure I will make it to the front row!

We arrived at the Brixton Academy around 5pm, doors open at 6pm, luckily not too many people were queuing up, and having an o2 number allows us to be in the priority queue. While Neil kept our place I nipped over the road to Nandos, we have to eat……I’m sure we’ll need the energy.  At least it was warm in there and it gave me the chance to use the “ladies”….
When I got back to the queue it had grown in size quite a bit, we tucked into our delicious chicken burger and made a few people hungry…
We started talking to a couple next to us in the normal queue; they had just found out that the Horrors had to cancel due to Faris being ill. They both had come to see that band mainly, so they were understandably very disappointed, it doesn’t look like there will be a replacement though.
I personally haven’t had much experience with The Horrors, but a lot of people rave about them, I should make time to check them out.
Eventually the queue started moving, we were searched, oh yes, no smuggling in water bottles or gum at Brixton! And yes we got a prominent place right at the centre front, well, nearly at the centre, we didn’t really want to end up in the moshpit.

We didn’t have to wait long for the first band to appear, ‘We are Augustines’ form Brooklyn, New York. I had no idea what to expect, but after a few minutes I was a fan….I can’t name a title as I’m not (yet) familiar with it, but they did perform about 5 tracks. It is never easy to be the first band on trying to impress and get the crowd going, but they did well.

I between band they had a DJ tucked in the corner, he seemed a bit of a random person with personality, he definitely enjoyed himself but I felt he couldn’t quiet produce the Christmas atmosphere I had expected, maybe it was the lack of talking or his choice of music, I’m not sure, all I know is I didn’t feel the love.

Next up was the Tribes, now, I have seen them before in a very intimate setting (blog for the Student Union in High Wycombe will follow) and have fallen in love with them, and that is not only due to the devastating good looks of lead singer Johnny, but I do love their music. I call them my other MONA group, basically I can see them going far if not all the way, and funny enough they are both signed by Island Records…..I wonder if that means anything?

Anyway The Tribes arrived on stage, one of them on crouches (please don’t ask who…I forgot, oh the shame), they also said that they had latterly stepped off the plane returning from their epic US tour. That is what you call dedication! They played “Halfway home” and “Sappho”, a couple of my favourite songs of the new album “Baby” due on the 16th January 2012. I will have to get that one no doubt. The set was of course far too short….I must and will catch their gig at the Barfly early next year. Of course I got a set list, only just …..

Next up is Band of Skulls, they are not for me I’m afraid, I struggled a little with their arrangements, I just got into a bit of head banging and the rhythm and tempo completely changed. I noticed a few people in my close vicinity having the same problem.  So these guys are not for me, but hey, you can’t win them all.

Next one on was Ben Howard, he so didn’t fit in. I’m no great fan, but his guitar playing is brilliant being left handed too. His voice a little too high pitched for me, but no doubt loads of talent. He looked a bit lost with just a chair and a guitar on that big stage. Obviously there were a few fans in the audience, mainly pretty young girls singing along. Ben only played a couple of songs and off he went.  While he was on stage a young blond girl appeared behind me, normally I can deal with people pushing up against you, but I do not like rudeness and pushing in to the front with no consideration to anyone else. The girls next to me have been there since 6pm, the same as us and there simple wasn’t any room. She rammed her knees into our legs (the girl next to me and I) trying to push in, putting a hand onto the barrier as if to steady herself, than an elbow and so on. The girl next to me asks her a couple of times to stop, as she was actually hurting us. Blondie than ask me to move up, and I simply said no. It’s a shame really, because behaviour like this does spoil your gig, you don’t dare to raise your arms or clap, as to not lose your place. Anyway eventually she understood that there was no pushing in to be done.

Next up were the Maccabees, again I’m not familiar with them and hoped for a new exciting band for me to check out. I have to say, they didn’t blow me away, they were ok, but just ok for me. They did have a lot of fans in the room though as moshing, pushing and screaming filled the room. It’s quite funny how you get moved backwards and forwards being at the barrier, sometimes we seem to have moved up a couple of meters and other times we losing ground…but again, it’s not a problem if a certain respect and consideration for the people around you is practised. I’m glad to say 90 % of people do just that, it can’t be helped that you end up with bruises if you put yourself into the firing line. So yes, The Maccabees, sadly they did not win me over. The two girls next to me tapped me on the shoulder and said they have to go now; they have school tomorrow, what a shame to miss half the show. XFM, do it on a Friday next time???

Once the Maccabees went off stage there was a bit of a pregnant pause, again the DJ, I think Liam was his name tried very hard to keep the frenzy going, didn’t quite work, well, not from where I was standing.  The techies are busy setting the stage for the head liners, The Kaiser Chiefs, again, I know a few songs and they are good and entertaining, not seen them life before.
But first there is a special treat; James from the Manic Street Preachers appears to receive a lifetime achievement award – for old people as he puts it. He takes his guitar and strums a couple of songs, the wham classic “last Christmas” and “design for life”…..oh I wish he would have had longer, I love the Manics.

Now to the head liners The Kaiser Chiefs, I loved the intro, stage light dark, slowly adding colour than the guys rush on stage launching into “ every day I love you less and less”, yes, that did it, the crowed belongs to them. Everybody is going mental, singing, shouting, jumping, pure energy. Ricky is running and jumping around the stage, he seemed to be having a great time. They play the classics “ Ruby Ruby Ruby” “Angry Mob” and “little shocks”, “kinda girl you are” “ starts with nothing” from the new album.  Ricky comes off the stage and teases the crowd from the barriers, running up and down getting everybody involved in doing a Mexican wave, parting the crowd (who is he? Moses?), anyway, the people make space, he comes into the crowd (I bet that is a real head ache for the security people). Two confetti bombs on either side of the stage are being released, covering everything with green paper strips, I can’t quite make out what he is doing, but no doubt it’s some public participation thing, eventually Ricky emergence on someone’s shoulders, gets past along everybody’s head to be caught be the Security guards to be pulled free and put back on stage. The audience is frantic by now…..somewhere in between loads of huge balloons filled with confetti were chucked of the stage, they get bounced around for a while and eventually they burst ….
The boys go off the stage, and also an encore was sort of expected it didn’t happen, the lights went up and it was all over. I must say I’m exhausted and so amazed by the Chiefs, what a brilliant show, they were amazing. See the photo on the left taken by Amanda Rose, quality!!

I manage to get the attention of one of the Techie for a set list, he screws it up and throws it to me, just to be snatched by some spotty boy behind me, I said to him that it was meant for me, he just shrugged his shoulder and went….nice, glad he is not my son. I do manage to get another techies attention, he gets hold of one and even though many arms are reaching for it he makes sure it gets to me…thank you.

This seemed to have turned into a small book, hope you didn’t get bored… leave a comment or feedback…x


About FrontRowStef

Following months of putting in the necessary hours of research, I have been bullied into writing a blog about my gig experiences! I can’t claim in-depth technical musical knowledge, or a massive CD collection, but, I know what I like and what doesn’t sound good in a live setting. I’m not intending to write great reviews about bands, but more of stuff that happen to me while out and about. Like when a dear friend of mine pointed out that it looks like I’m putting my towel down when I hit the barriers at the front and claim my spot with my jacket draped over the railings. What does he mean? Is it because I’m German? Enough introductions, you will get to know me sooner or later! Oh and apparently I’m going to be referred to as Front Row Stef, simply because that is my rightful place!

2 responses »

  1. Martina says:

    Its really brilliant ! I cant stop Reading it And i feel i am there ! Well Done Steffi !!!

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