It was a Wednesday evening, 22nd August. I was standing in the front row of the pit at Tenant’s Vital, about to see a huge band that I knew little about. Of course I knew the songs “I wanna be adored” and “Waterfall” but other than that, very little. Seems I live in a bit of a bubble.
I grew up sharing a bedroom with my sister who was into the likes of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica. Me (being a good chick-lit writer in the making); I had posters of Jason Donovan and various smooth-faced actors on my side of the room. An invisible distinct line ran down the middle and posters of tattooed, leather clad, long-haired hard rockers peered down from the other side. So I suppose when I was sixteen and the Stone Roses were big, they never got a look-in on our small bedroom stereo. Then there was Uni and drinking and nights out and the dance scene and Brighton clubbing and that was that.
It wasn’t until I was lucky enough to sign a publishing contract with Crooked Cat that fellow author Michela O’Brien laced my Facebook newsfeed with daily updates on The Stone Roses. I found it quite funny and endearing how much she loved them. She posted about this reunion they were having and how delighted she was. Then her status update said that she was thinking of going to see them in Belfast. I sent her a private message saying that if she needed somewhere to stay, she’d be very welcome to stay with me. And that was that. Michela, in good ol’ spontaneous fashion had booked the tickets and her flights within the hour. It seemed I was going to Tenant’s Vital!
Now, I’m not much of a music festival person (did I mention that I live in a bit of a bubble?!). I always thought music festivals equalled mud, mess, no hair straighteners and looking like crap. (I sound like such an oldie here – oh well). It wasn’t until the day before that it occurred to me I might need wellies and a waterproof jacket. That was easy to sort – my lovely colleague lent me her (aptly – rose patterned wellies) and on the morning of Tenant’s Vital, Michela and I dashed into a shop to buy their last waterproof jacket (the zip of which was broken but it did the job).
Anyway, onto the exciting bit – Michela and I were meeting 20 – yes – twenty – of her Stone Roses friends. These were people she had met at previous gigs and had kept in touch with online. Naturally I was a bit nervous about meeting 20 new people but they all turned out to be really lovely. These people had travelled from Scotland, England and even as far as Spain to see this gig! Some of them didn’t even have a hotel – they were going to wait at the airport for their flight home – talk about dedication!
I must add at this point that I was thrilled to meet Michela. I had read her book “Playing on Cotton Clouds” and loved it. I had reviewed it for Judging Covers and gave it 5 stars. An effortless read, it had me gripped and I devoured it in a couple of days. I now know that much of the book was inspired by her love of the Roses.
After lunch we all headed over to Boucher Road playing fields and walked straight in. No queues, no hanging about, just straight through the barriers. We were given a band around our wrists with ‘pit’ on because we were one of the first 3,000 in. So far, so rosey.
The sun had come out so we sat ourselves down and watched the warm-up acts, basking in the sunlight. The good vibes and happy atmosphere of the Roses fans were rubbing off on me and I felt in a really good mood. Michela, hard-core fan that she is, had planted herself in the front row with friends Amanda and Russell and that is where they would stay for the next 6 hours to keep their place. Dedication, eh? :o)
Florence and the Machine came on at about 7.30pm. We were standing next to a couple of 18 year old girls from Newry. They were really lovely and so excited about Florence. I discovered I was nearly the same age as their mother and I suddenly felt very protective over them. Their vibe rubbed off on me as they were so happy to see her. I enjoyed Florence, especially “Dog Days are Over” as that song has a lovely positive meaning for me. Disappointing that she didn’t play “You’ve got the love” though and I’m sure a lot of her fans would have been expecting that chart hit.
At this stage, the sun was going down; the sky was a lovely mix of light and dark blue; the energy from the crowd was very infectious. I felt very happy.
Then the best bit.
An intro started to play for the Roses and Michela squealed. I could feel my adrenalin rise even though I didn’t know what to expect. And then he walked out. Ian Brown. In a green jacket and dark jeans singing “I wanna be adored”. I admit; I melted. To see this famous person on stage, only a few feet away from me, singing a song I recognised, and not only that, but singing it with such confidence and energy, I melted.
The crowd were going mad – singing along to every word, Michela and friends had the biggest smiles plastered on their faces. And Ian kept sauntering back and forth from one end of the long stage to the other, giving people at either end of the stage a chance to see him. Quite often he stood directly in-front of us, holding his shakers like the coolest thing on the planet. Do I sound smitten? Hmmm. He definitely has such a stage presence. A quality that spells confidence, coolness, and a ‘this is me, I’ve arrived’. In my humble opinion, that is. So what can I say? I spent the next 2 hours drooling over this man, who at 49 years old has bucket loads of sex appeal. I seem to have turned into a 15 year schoolgirl with a teenage crush.
I recognised more of the songs than I thought. I suppose my drunken Uni years hanging around a juke box in bars must have exposed me to their tunes more than I thought. Singing and dancing along, the time could’ve stopped still for all I cared. We might have been standing there since 3pm but I was full of energy.
There was an escapade where some drunken fella pushed his heavy weight around the crowd, getting in everyone’s way. But I have to say the security men were fantastic and had him carted out in no time. Then I was horrified to see one of our group, Aaron, with blood running down his nose. Some drunken eejit had head-butted him. The security men carried Aaron out and I was so disappointed for him. He was one of the guys who had flown over from Scotland and was going to sit it out in an airport rather than stay in a hotel. He had been so smiley and excited all day and I was raging for him that he was pulled away from his front spot. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy myself knowing that he was outside the pit bleeding on his own so I went after him to see if he was okay.
The security men told me he was behind the scenes in the medic’s van getting looked at. He said it wasn’t serious – just a cut on his nose – and that they’d fix him up and he’d be out again in no time. So somehow I managed to squeeze and jostle my way back to my front spot again, able to enjoy the rest knowing he was okay. He joined us again a song or two later so it was all good.
Ian continued to be wonderful – sauntering up and down the stage, effortlessly cool and confident, singing the tunes with ease, looking relaxed and playing with those shakers. I loved the way he played up to the camera man too – not an ounce of self-consciousness about him. So I suppose I could rave on and on about Ian but you get the picture.
“This is the One” was my favourite tune. It made me feel so happy. It reminded me of how happy I felt when I found my publisher. After tons of rejections, to get a ‘yes’ and know “This is the one”.
There were loads more songs I loved – Waterfall, Fools Gold, She bangs the drums, Shoot you down, I am the Resurrection.
And then that was it – over.
I was in no hurry to leave quickly but the security guards were brilliant at moving people along.
Michela hugged all her friends goodbye and we began to walk home. It was a lovely night – not a wisp of wind or a drop of rain. We were so full of adrenalin that we were quite happy to walk home and talk about the gig the whole way. When Michela asked me what I thought, all I could say was “Well, that was as cool as f**k”. She said that was nice to hear – that she has liked them for so long that she wondered if she was biased – but it was nice to hear a new person’s opinion.
So I need to wrap this up a bit – 14 A4 pages have flown out of me effortlessly here – probably the longest blog post I’ve ever written.
The next night, after Michela had gone, I was on You Tube looking at videos of Ian Brown and The Stone Roses. My crush had well and truly started.
2012 has turned out to be a great year – moved in to a lovely apartment, found a publisher, had 2 books published on kindle, now they’re coming out on paperback, I’ve met one of my favourite authors, been to a fabulous concert and developed a healthy crush on a 49 year old music star.