My last gig of 2012 today, Nell Bryden who is supporting Gary Barlow. I’m not too sure about seeing Gary Barlow, I have never been a boy band fan, but I do know that Nell is amazing, so I’m looking forward catching up with her again.
I don’t have to go early and queue up for ever because it is an all seated affair and the seats are numbered, still I leave in good time, usual trip, drive to Northfield Station, park up, train to Hammersmith, no worries! How wrong can you be? Once on the A40 everything came to a halt! There was a sign at the side of the road, but I couldn’t make out at all what it says. Not sure how to get to Ealing otherwise so I stayed on the A40, BIG MISTAKE, it didn’t get any better. Eventually, 2.5 hours later I managed to get to the tube station, on the train, off at Hammersmith, running across the road, pick up my ticket and rush inside…….nothing! People are talking, the lights are low and the stage is empty.
Noooooooooooo, I ask the young lady next to me if the support band has started yet, she says: “She has just finished, she was really brilliant.”, I could cry and swear a lot, but I manage to stay calm (well, on the outside). I quiz the lady a little more about Nell’s performance and explain to her that I came for her primarily. Apparently Nell played a blinding set, 6 songs, perfect sound and “what a nice woman”…….Right, I’d better go and find her, no doubt Nell will be at the Merch stand.
There is quite a queue, I stay back a little and watch people getting their CD’s signed and photos taken. Nell Bryden is looking amazing, since she found the courage to ditch her wig and stand proud despite suffering from alopecia, she seems to be glowing with happiness and confidence, not that she didn’t before, but showing the real you does involve making yourself vulnerable, which is a big step and very liberating, I have great respect for Nell saying “this is who I am” giving so many people strength to deal with their own imperfections, including myself, so thank you Nell.
While I’m waiting I get chatting to a girl called Lesley, she runs the Nell Bryden fan club, she recaps Nell’s performance to me and it makes me even more sad to have missed it. It sounds like it was an amazingly well received 30-40 minutes….arrrrgghhhh, damm traffic!!!
Andy Wallace is accompanying her on the piano again as she started with the song “What Does It Take” from the same titled album, announcing that her parents, brother and her best friend are in the audience which is making it very special for her, they flew over from the states last night together. The second song is from her new album ‘Shake the tree‘, I love “Buildings and Treetops”…..♫♪boxes labelled with your name..♫…only night time brings a small release….♪♪♫, such great lyrics, followed by another of my favourites “Not Like Loving You”. Listen to Nell’s lyrics I’m sure most of us can understand the hurt and heartache that must have been felt, how else can lyrics like that be written and be performed with such passion? I know I’m one of the greatest singers when listening to the album alone in my car on LOUD!!….hehheeeh…you can shout out all the hurt that has been felt in the past!!
“Second Time Around” is followed by “Sirens” where she expresses her pride of New Yorkers, having seen first hand how people have pulled together in the eye of hurricane Sandy and finally finishing with “Shake The Tree”.
At last I get a chance to have a quick chat, not much time is left as Nell has to be back stage shortly. But a chance to apologise for missing her, a chance to tell her how amazing she is and yes, a chance for a photo and getting my ticket signed.
A little girl comes up to the table, Nell is pleased to see her, she tells Lesley and myself to watch this girl called Luna as she will be a star, her mother is Shea Seger (no relation to Bob) an accomplished singer from Texas, another to catch up with in the near future I hope.
I was hoping to see Nell Bryden at the Roundhouse at the end of January 13, but it seemed to be sold out, Nell’s “man responsible for tickets” promised to sort it out as there are still tickets available. Time to let her go and get ready and for me to go and find my seat to see Gary Barlow.
When I finally made it to my seat Gary was already on stage and singing, everybody was on their feet dancing and clapping! What a great atmosphere. He talked about the breakup of ‘Take That’ and how they managed to find common ground again before singing “Open Road”. It is a sold out gig, I’m very lucky my seat is in row J, not far from the front at all, I have a great view and plenty of room! Gary talks a lot between tracks, but I don’t actually find it annoying, he tells us that most bands introduce the band members at the end of the gig but he doesn’t believe in it so he’ll do it now! He announces the next song “Careless Whisper”….”hahahah, no not that one” he jokes, it is of course “A Million Love Songs”. The crowd goes wild, and even I find myself singing along, I guess I just get carried away with this energy in here. There are mainly women of all ages, a few guys that were dragged along and trying not to show too much that they are actually enjoying it and then there are a few guys who don’t care and are totally immersed in the euphoria, brilliant! Gary proves he still has the moves and isn’t scared to show them off….my guess is they are from the Take That days as the crowd is going wild watching him down on his knees and back up. He keeps telling the audience that he doesn’t feel close enough and comes right to the edge of the stage shaking happy people’s hands, nice! Gary is either sitting at the piano or moving along the stage, which is great, because everybody is able to get a good view of him at some point. After “Forever Autumn”, a superb cover of the much loved Moody Blues song, Gary also expresses his gratitude to have been able to be part of the ‘War Of The Worlds – The New Generation’ available now.
He invites Nell Bryden back on stage, she is looking fabulous in her midnight blue dress, setting off the red roses wound around her mic stand as always. Gary and Nell perform “Fairytale in New York” from The Pogues. I’m happy that I did get to hear her for at least one song, sounded amazing! Gary mentions her family again and she promptly said they were here to see him!!
Gary continues with a brilliant piano medley, I’m not 100% sure about all the song titles but I think there was ” I’d Wait For Life”, “Love Ain’t Here Anymore ,”Lie To Me”, “Why Can’t I Wake Up With You” and “Forever Love”, which is greeted by a big cheer and I spot couples having a sneaky kiss and hug, awwww! To Love Ain’t Here Anymore he gets the audience involved, all of us, just women and just men, who do amazingly well!! Gary shouts out” There are fellas in the audience”….lol. He is funny!He does a Van Morrison cover “Moon Dance”, I actually really like it, and the screams are deafening when he sings the line”…♫♪…wanna make love to you tonight…♫♪, that surely got a lot of women’s imagination going…!!
Gary announces a 20 minutes break….”I’m not that young anymore you know…”, goes off stage, house lights on and people are getting up moving around. I take that opportunity to see if I can get my hands on a set list, best bet may be the sound technicians. The Soundy is really nice but tells me they are not allowed to give them away but agrees I can take a photo of it after the show, that is good enough for me 🙂
Back in my seat I get talking to the two girls behind me, mother and daughter, they have come to London from Portsmouth and are very much loving the show. Lucy the young girl tells me that she is a massive Justin Bieber fan and that they have tickets to see him, hmmm, I might have to give him a miss, but as I always say: ” Just because I’m not keen doesn’t mean it’s not good!” We spot a bit of activity further down the aisle, Lucy tells me it looks like there is Gareth Malone, the host from the BBC program The Choir, lots of autographs and photos are taken.
After 20 minutes Gary comes back on stage as promised, while Gary was singing his second song “Wasting My Time” I noticed that more security guards arrived and positioned themselves on the path between the front sections. I wondered what was going to happen, a special guest maybe?
“I still don’t feel close enough to you” he shouts out just before singing “Everything Changes”, and with that he walks into the crowd, ahh, that explains the extra security. People are going mad, trying to touch him, hug him and even steal a kiss, nice one Gary, the audience loves this!
20 songs later it is finally time to say good night, the band leaves the stage, but as usual we know they will be back!!!
I leave my seat at this point to move closer to the sound deck, from there I get a nice view of Gary Barlow’s finale, finishing with “Never Forget”, having changed into a sparkling jacket, with confetti raining down and a crowd hardly able to control themselves is a fitting end!
I may not be a massive Gary Barlow/Boy Band fan, but the show was most enjoyable! Respect!