Yes, we managed to get tickets for this years XFM Winter Wonderland, I did really enjoy it last year, discovered ‘We Are Augustines‘ and loved them ever since.XFM Winter Wonderland

This year’s line-up promises to be equally as good, so I took my last half day holiday to make sure we’ll be at the barriers.
I got to the O2 Academy Brixton at around 3:30pm, I expected quite a queue already and was surprised to find just a handful of people waiting, not even the barriers had been put up. Once I joined them it was easy to get into a conversation, there were Andrew & Maryanna, Jason and Josh from Portsmouth, and for the record, Jason is the No.1 Editors fan (it says so on his hoody), then there was Marsh from Slovenia and Minita from London, all are here mainly for The Editors. Yes, we do like a bit of Tom Smith, even though these guys have all seen The Editors before unlike myself. If only I would have been here a little earlier, apparently the members of Temper Trap walked past and Josh called out “Hello Temper Trap”, they waved back and that was as far as it went. I had a lovely XFM Winter Wonderlandlong chat with Josh about the music scene in Portsmouth, basically it’s non-existent and about his own band and all the music he loves, The Rolling Stones are just one example. More people are turning up, but it is quite slow, we were all surprised that not more people are here to queue, but hey we are not complaining. Eventually the security guys turn up to erect the barriers and once that was done we only had another hour or so to wait, as there were 5 bands on tonight the doors opened at 6:30.  The excitement was growing , we were all getting impatient and just Danny Wallacewanted to go inside….lol, the queue was growing steadily and we were starting to feel quite chilly. The security guys were really nice though, giving out cards for us to read warning everybody of pick pocketing and to make sure we keep our belongings safe.
Finally the doors opened, girls to the left and boys to the right, the race is on! I know “don’t run”…..I wonder how many times this has been shouted to me…hehehehe. As predicted all of us who have been waiting for hours got centre front barrier spaces, now we can relax 🙂

Theme Park
 XFM DJ Danny Wallace (author of ‘Yes Man’) introduced the evening and it kicked off with Theme Park. I haven’t seen them before but there has been a lot of talk about this band and the couple of songs I have heard are pretty good. The London based trio, appear confident and are indeed very very good. This is definitely a band to be watchingTheme Parkout for. Their debut album is due to come out next February and their new single “Tonight” is really catchy! This won’t be the last time I see you guys!
Lucy Rose was next, after a quick change over on stage she arrived, sat down and started without saying a word, it was an acoustic set with a full band behind her. I must say Lucy didn’t do it for me, I couldn’t get into her voice and found her performance a touch dull. There was one song which gained an Lucy Roseaudience participation, within the lyrics there was a part that said: “….you scream…” and some of the crowd obviously knew it well and screamed in the appropriate places. I’m afraid that is all I can say as I had kind of switched off at that point, and looking around I wasn’t the only one. Sorry Lucy Rose, I’m afraid you’re not for me.
Next Danny Wallace announces that Work Experience Steve will do his performance here and now. He is to perform Blur’s song 2 to which he was challenged and practised like mad, will he become the rock star he so knows he is deep Work Experience Stevedown!! As he comes on stage to tune his guitar and to get in the zone, Danny Wallace talks on a bit until finally you can hear the beginning of the song….♫♪…Whoohooo!..Whoohoo!..Whoohoo!….♫♪, instantly the crowd was there to dance along to it and support the boy. It is agreed that this young man rose to the challenge and did really really well! Good on you Steve.
Now it’s starting to get hot in here, the pushing has begun and people moving in closer, The Temper Trap is about to Temper Trapappear on stage. This is one of my highlights tonight, I’m not terribly familiar with their music, but what I’ve heard I do love. This five piece outfit from Melbourne, Australia is fronted by Dougy Mandagi, who I think has an amazing voice…and is quite cute 😉
When they started their set with “Love Lost” I knew I would like these guys, great tunes, great stage presence, brilliant performance. Dougy did a lot of talking in between songs, playing up to the audience and catching his breath it seems.” This Isn’t Happiness” taken from their second album is a lovely mellow Temper Trapsong, close your eyes and let yourself be carried away….I love it. Playing a 9 song set is enough of a teaser and the escalation to the final song “Sweet Disposition” is amazing. The “Drum Song”, second to last, shows Dougy playing a small set of drums right at the edge of the stage. At some point he takes a sip from his bottle of water and pours the rest onto the drum and carries on Temper Trapplaying. From where I was standing it looked amazing, droplets of water dancing to the rhythms of the drums, reflecting in the lights, sweet! For his final song there is no introduction needed, while he waits for a techie to clean up the spilled water Dougy thanks the crowd and promises to be back soon. The audience answers with shouts and screams, especially when near the end Dougy jumps off the stage to climb up on his side of the barrier the energy going around the room is electric, many arms are reaching up trying to touch him. And that is it, far too quickly it’s all over.  I’m glad I managed to see them live, hope I will again in the not too distant future. A set list was thrown off the stage, I tried desperately to get the attention of one of the security guys (usually they really good), but they were far too busy chatting. Eventually a girl nearer to it managed to get a photographer to pick it up for her……:-(
Another quick turn around to make the stage ready for The Couteeners, it has been a long while since I saw them last, iTunes festival 2010. While the stage was being set masses of huge green balloons filled with confetti were thrown into XFM Winter Wonderlandthe crowd, great fun, everybody joined in bouncing them all over the place. It looked a bit like a killer attack of giant peas….hehhehe, but it is a good exercise, it calms the crowd and brings them together having fun rather than aggression,  no doubt it is supposed to prep us for the next two bands, it is going to be mental!!
The Courteeners are next, loads of clapping and shouting as they launch into their first song “Cavorting”, hahhahahaha, it takes no time at all for the pushing, moshing and jumping to start. There is only one thing for it, hold on The Corteenerstight and join in :-). Liam Fry and his band members didn’t need to try too hard, the crowd was at their feet, I guess a lot of the audience are here for them. Playing some new tracks and of course favourites like ” You Overdid It Doll” and “Take Over The World”. There wasn’t too much talking going on at times, it seemed they are just here to play a few songs rather than giving the crowd a performance to remember. Still, it didn’t seem unnecessary to interact too much, the crowd just wanted a huge mosh pit and loose themselves in the frenzy, fair enough! Made it hard to take photos or even video a bit,The Corteeners hehehehe, being pushed around and holding on with one hand and taking pictures, not an easy task. The crowd was ok though, some burly men behind us trying to safeguard girls at the barriers and pushing the mosh pitters back to the middle, mayhem…lol!  Also playing a 9 track set they finished with “What Took You So Long”, said goodbye and left the stage. With a sigh of relief I welcomed the opportunity to let go of the barrier and get some breathing space.  But hey, it’s all in the name of Frontrowstef!!!  And this time I manage to get the attention of a Techie and he passes me a set list….yes!
Before it’s time for the last band John Kennedy appears (the DJ who has been with XFM from the start), he is about to John Kennedyannounce who will get the inspiration award this year, last year it was of course James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers. A film shows various artist giving a spiel of why this person deserves to get this and how amazing he’s been…the award get passed to a totally stunned John Kennedy, he wasn’t expecting this at all. Stuttering a few words of thanks, hugs and smiles they left the stage to make way for the next band on.
The Editors are next and the last band to play tonight, the evening did go rather quickly. While the Techies are preparing the stage I look around, I spot Jason being rather excited, big smile on his face :-). One of the blokes thatmy front row buddiespushed me into the barrier a couple of times earlier is right behind me, I decide to talk to him….make a connection and he is more likely to look after you than ram into you!! I find out his name is Rick, and he has come along from Nottingham with his youngest son, and he is absolutely loving it! He tells me The Editors mean a lot to him, especially a certain song, possibly it was “An End Has A Start”, but in any case it’s an awesome song!

Finally Tom Smith and his fellow musicians turn up on stage to a deafening noise and the pushing starts instantly! First The Editors - Tom Smithsong is “Smokers Outside” followed by “Racing Rats”, this is a great show, great energy in the room, it’s wild and a little rough, and bless him, Rick is trying his best to keep me safe. One girl is pushing herself right onto the barrier, which is ok, but an ‘excuse me’ or ‘is it ok’ would be nice. Loads of Santa hats are flying through the air onto the stage, crowd surfers are being passed across, arms, hands and shoes too close for comfort sometimes….but all in all it’s great fun, even though I would have loved to be able to concentrate more on the band than the crowd. Tom Smith is looking good, dressed in a suit, the jacketThe Editorsdidn’t stay on long though, he swaps his position from guitar to piano to keys to guitar, making playing music look easy. Tom is building up his 11 song set taking the crowd with him, encouraging his fans to jump and dance, the atmosphere is amazing. Another guy is pushing in between the girl and I, he is quite strong and I feel he is actually bruising me, sorry I do not like this at all, a quick bending back of his finger soon makes him release his grip, I think he is under the influence of many things and won’t remember much tomorrow. He asks a security guard to pull him over as he claims he wants to get out, what he really wanted was to run up on stage, no such luck though, the guys in the front are brilliant and stop him in his tracks. Before playing “Not Nineteen Forever” as their second last song Rick taps me on my shoulder to say goodbye, they have to go and catch a train, shame he was really enjoying it. The final song was “Papillion” to which the confetti cannons were released, bathing XFM Winter Wonderlandeverybody in green confetti….what an amazing night, I could have quite happily stayed a bit longer. But it’s time to say Good Night, The Editors take a final bow and wave us good night. Now we can breath again as people make their way out. I hang around hoping to get a set list of The Editorscourse, but it’s not easy…I do watch one of the Techies picking up a Santa hat and putting it on 🙂
Suddenly the young security guard who was right in front of us all the way through came up to me and passed me a set list “for staying your ground and being die hard rockers”, how sweet is that, thank you kind sir!!

With that we make our way out and to the tube station, where I get promptly chatted up by a woman, as we discovered she’s the same age as me and she was very drunk for which she kept apologising….hehhehehe. The one thing she said just before we parted ” …you are responsible for your own destiny….”….ok, I’ll bear that in mind 🙂

Thank you XFM for yet another brilliant WinterWonderland, roll on next year!
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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 Weidmann says:

    This was a Long One … Hehe … I was there too! Keep on Steffi x

  2. Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and detailed information you present.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted
    rehashed information. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds
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