The Best Night Ever: Meeting the world’s biggest boy band (and telepathically attempting to get them to Eurovision)
(This post was supposed to go out a fortnight ago, so please keep that in mind if/when you are reading it. It was totally hot off the press at that time…)
A few weeks back I mentioned that something kind of amazing was about to happen to me, and that I’d show and tell once it had. Well, last Saturday was the day. If the mere mention of the words ‘boy band’ make you physically ill, and you’re not in the mood for trashing my taste in music, you won’t like this next sentence: last Saturday was the day I got to meet a group of guys who look a little bit like this:
By ‘a little bit’, I mean ‘totally’. Yes, that’s right…I got to meet ONE DIRECTION!!!
In case that outburst didn’t give it away, I should tell you that I am a major boy band freak. Said freakiness goes way back – I grew up in the 90s listening exclusively to the Spice Girls, and every single boy band in existence (the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, *NSYNC, Westlife, Boyzone, NKOTB, Boyz II Men, Five, Human Nature…you get the idea). Sadly, I have the same taste in music today, with the addition of mass Eurovision/national final/Asian pop. So a few months ago, when I found out I’d won tickets to go and see THE boy band of the moment (which I never could have bought myself because you practically have to sell a kidney on the black market to afford one) I was just a teensy bit happy about it.
Once I’d finished being a teensy bit happy, disbelief set in, because I never win anything that depends on a random draw. But that quickly gave way to “Screw that. Hashtag winning!”. I then broke the news to my mother, who said she’d be my plus one if none of my friends were interested. It turns out they weren’t, but only because none of them would admit to wanting to go. They are sorry now, believe me.
And so it was that a 22-year-old with a bachelor degree under her belt prepared to attend a concert geared towards teenagers with her mother (talk about YOLO). But wait – there’s more! A week or so before the show, I woke up to a phone call from the competition peeps casually letting me know that, not only would my mother and I be dancing all night to the best song ever, but we would also get to meet and greet the band before they took to the stage.
You will may laugh, but I don’t think I’d ever screamed out loud in my life before that happened. More with shock than anything else, since stuff like this does NOT happen to me. I’d never encountered anyone even remotely famous, besides that time I saw a local newsreader in the supermarket and stalked him through the freezer section for half an hour. I’d seen famous people from a distance, but I’d never actually gotten to “accidentally” brush up against one. So the prospect of doing that to not one, but five of the most famous man-children on the planet was thrilling…and terrifying. But was I going to chicken out, or give the opportunity to one of those tween girls who owns all the 1D albums and merchandise and bursts into hysterical tears whenever the names Harry, Louis, Liam, Niall or Zayn are mentioned? No. No I was not.
So a week later, I was having a panic attack as le mother and I headed down to the shiny new Perth Arena (which would make an excellent Eurovision venue should the EBU ever decide that Australia deserves a shot at hosting). All we knew was that we were meeting someone outside the box office who would march us and a small group of others into the depths of backstage to briefly fraternize with the guys before the concert started. When we arrived to do just that, we found approximately 10 million girls lined up outside.
I figured they were that breed of super-fan that does the hysterical crying, since this was 4.30pm and the concert didn’t start until after 7. It turned out they were lining up to attend the pre-show sound check, and after a while, we got the nod and the lanyards to join the same queue.
What felt like a year later, after a bag search and water bottle confiscation, we ended up in the arena foyer with the masses. They were filing into the arena itself, but our little group (consisting purely of hyperventilating, sweating people of various ages) was whisked away through a lot of swingy doors and into a massive room with a bar and very spongy carpet. There, we waited for what felt like another full year, having mini heart attacks whenever someone walked past the open door. I internally debated whether or not to grab a breath mint from my handbag (who knew how close we’d be getting?) and just as I did, through the door walked the actual, living, breathing One Direction. Naturally, I nearly choked on the mint.
I don’t know if this has happened to you if you’ve met someone famous, but as soon as they came in I went into this weird dreamland where nothing felt real. In a way, I think that saved me from having a breakdown in the presence of the band (on the outside, anyway). The meet-and-greet began, and it turned out to be more of a ‘Hello!’, photo, photo, photo, ‘Thanks, bye!’ situation. These boys are busy. My mother and I stepped up, said a star-struck bonjour and had a few photos taken – me on the end and her for some reason in prime position in the middle (it’s a sad situation when your parents get more action than you do) and with that, it was time to make room for the next in line. It was all over super quick, but we did get to exchange a few words with and manhandle some serious celebrities, which was epic enough to be THE most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.
For the record:
– They smelled really good (a creepy but true observation).
– They were taller than we’d imagined. You always hear people saying how “small” famous people are in reality, so this was a surprise.
– As you can see, they are super tan, and my mother and I are just kind of…red. News flash: Australia is not full of bronzed beach gods and goddesses who walk around in bathers to show off their bronzeness. And it really shows when we stand next to people from anywhere else.
– They were genuinely friendly and played up for the cameras, despite the fact that there is rarely a time when they aren’t being photographed. Nobody would be able to help falling a little bit in love.
Alas, we and all of our newfound love had to leave the squishy-carpet room and head off to the sound check ourselves. We joined the millions of girls at the front of the stage (who seemed to pick up the scent of 1D on us and started giving us death stares) and soon the guys emerged from the squishy room to deafen us all with a few quick song run-throughs and answer some audience questions that involved the word ‘twerk’. The world we live in. In contrast to most of what had happened so far, the sound check was over in minutes, and we were all shepherded upstairs where there were canapés, non-alcoholic beverages, and shockingly, in a time when nothing comes without a price, free programmes. It all felt very classy, if you ignored all of the hotpants-clad teenagers sprawled all over the floor fighting with each other about which band member was their “husband”.
That was pretty much where the class/special treatment ended, but it was amazing while it lasted. I just wish I’d stuffed some tiny sandwiches into my handbag as a souvenir. But sandwich-less, I followed the masses into the arena again, and we found our seats, which thankfully weren’t right down on the floor but off to the side in a tiered section (I figured that meant that at my ripe old age, I wouldn’t be forced to stand up the entire night, but I was wrong). My sexy earplugs went in, because the screaming was getting louder as the stadium filled up – the show was sold out and the capacity of the place is 13 000, which equals an unsafe scream level – and then, the lights went out, and came up to reveal…the support act. Those guys were called Five Seconds of Summer, and are an Australian punk-rock band that I had heard of, but wasn’t really interested in hearing for 45 minutes when I could be being told what makes me beautiful. Having said that, they were pretty good, if you like that sort of thing.
ANYWAY, the time did arrive when 1D made their appearance, and I immediately thanked the god of earplugs that I had mine inserted (I could hear the music perfectly, but the screaming was down to a 9/10). Because this post has already gone on for way, way too long and even those of you who were interested at the start are dozing off, I won’t go through the entire set list (also because I don’t remember it). What I will say is that the whole thing was really, really good. They sang everything the Directioners could have asked for, and they sounded great – definitely more Klapa s Mora than Jemini. There were gigantic, Moscow 2009-esque (almost) video screens, lights, streamers and balloons in action, and at one point, the boys were transported across the arena via a floating platform and deposited on a mini-stage directly opposite where we were sitting, where they spent a while doing what they do best, answering more questions, and of course, accusing each other of farting.
Of course, that wasn’t the closest I had been to them that night (wink wink, etc) but it was still an awesome feature of the show, especially for someone whose previous concert experiences have seen the artist/s stick to the main stage. I have to admit, it made me feel like I was at Eurovision Training 101, with the vast amounts of people going crazy in a massive venue, lights and cameras, costume changes, and satellite stage. I now feel prepared to make the pilgrimage to *insert European city here* 2015, should my back account allow, so thank you, One Direction. Thank you very much.
Speaking of, they saved the best for their encore. Best Song Ever and What Makes You Beautiful were the last two songs performed, and I didn’t mind at all standing up for those (standing up for the rest and complaining about a sore back had me feeling like an old woman, but if you sat down you couldn’t see a thing). There was a euphoric (as Loreen would say) moment during these songs when I got all high on the excitement and decided that I needed to buy all existing 1D albums ASAP, and that it was shameful that I didn’t already have at least one in my collection. I will let you know at the end whether I did such a fangirlish thing or not.
After basking in the noise, the boys disappeared backstage, never to return (until the next night, that is) and with aching joints, a bit of a headache and a jacket that I may never wash again, mamma and I disappeared off home. And that, believe it or not, was that. It honestly was one of the best nights of my life – totally worth all the money I would have payed for it if I hadn’t gotten lucky. You may laugh at that comment, but it isn’t every concert you go to that you get to meet a.k.a. touch and pose with the artists, attend their sound check AND get free sandwiches (the sandwiches clearly being the highlight); nor is it every concert you go to that ends up being so entertaining and lacking in bum notes. As much as it prepared me for the ESC more than any other I’d been to before, it also set a high standard for my beloved contest to meet. Don’t send me death threats, because I still love Eurovision more than any boy band, and I fully expect it to be amazing when I do get there. It’s just that, after last weekend, I can’t help being a little bit of a Directioner myself. Albeit a geriatric one.
One final word to make the title of this post make sense: there are a lot of artists (and not those brought back from the dead) who would do a great job at the ESC for the UK, and after seeing them live, I think 1D would be one of them. I did spend the evening imagining what it would be like if they did it, and then used all of my brainpower to put the idea into their heads, so we may get the announcement any day now.
Ha ha. I know it would never happen! Well, maybe in 15 years when their hairlines are starting to recede and they’ve broken up and reunited three times and they try to use it as an avenue for a comeback. Until then, this girl will have to dream.
But the guys should keep this in mind: boy bands have been pretty successful at Eurovision in recent history. Here’s proof.
Eden – 5th in 1999 for Israel
One – 6th in 2002 for Cyprus
Prime Minister – 10th in 2002 for Russia
No Name – 6th in 2005 for Serbia and Montenegro
Blue – 11th in 2011 for the UK
Yes, there have been exceptions, but more often than not the outcome of sending a European version of *NSYNC has been positive. So maybe the BBC should source a hypnotist who can convince One Direction to step up in Copenhagen. Either that, or they can wait a decade or so and let the band come knocking. It’ll happen, you’ll see. We’ll all be dancing to the second-best song ever.
So that is the end of this particular ramble. I apologise for the length and any brain cells you may have lost trying to get through it. Rest assured that normal transmission will resume in a few days. I have some (hopefully) exciting stuff planned for the rest of the year, including a countdown of my top 50 Junior Eurovision entries of all time, so have your judgment hats at the ready, folks!
But for now, answer me this:
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
PS – I did go and buy all existing One Direction albums, but managed to stop myself from pre-ordering the third one (I still consider myself relatively sane.)
PPS – Here are a few more photos taken by moi on the night, for anyone interested.
This really is the end.
gimmick /ˈgɪmɪk / noun. A trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade (The Oxford Dictionary)
This list features gimmicks of the prop and people variety (and no more pompous definitions, I promise). There actually weren’t that many to make a list of in Düsseldorf, but for you, I have managed to locate ten.
Which one was your favourite?
#1 Ukraine’s sand art
Tried and tested by: nobody
I love it because: I loved everything about the Ukrainian entry last year. But I also love how original it was. Many, many gimmicks have graced the Eurovision stage, but 2011 was the first time a woman dressed like Dracula’s missus got up there and proved that playing with sand can be impressive, if you do it the right way. I don’t think Ukraine would have managed 4th place without Kseniya Simonova, sand artist extraordinaire.
#2 The UK’s reformed boy band
Tried and tested by: technically, nobody
I love it because: boy bands like Blue defined the music of my girlhood, alongside Westlife, Five, the Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, and any other band from the 90s or early 00s that featured a bunch of relatively good-looking guys, including one who got really famous and one whose name nobody remembers. The news of Blue’s reformation for Eurovision turned my then nineteen-year-old self into a hysterical, screeching fangirl (something that will only happen again if One Direction represent the UK in a future contest…a.k.a. never).
#3 Belgium’s a cappella performance
Tried and tested by: Cosmos (Latvia 2006)
I love it because: it’s an amazing talent, and it takes guts to stand on a teensy stage in front of thousands with millions watching on TV, and provide not only the vocals, but the music for your song too, using only your mouth. Witloof Bay’s live performance was studio perfect, and even though I’m not a huge lover of their entry, I’ve watched it back more than a few times over the past year.
#4 Sweden’s smashing glass
Tried and tested by: nobody, unless you count Søren Pilmark’s “Whoops, I dropped the trophy!” gag during his co-hosting gig of Eurovision 2001.
I love it because: Eric Saade looks terrified when he goes in for the smash, and I find that very funny. It’s unknown whether he was afraid that a) he might end up with a shard of glass permanently wedged in his person or b) the glass-smashing detonator would fail to work and Sweden would be responsible for a big boo-boo on live TV, but either way I get enjoyment out of the barely disguised ‘HELP ME!’ expression on his face.
#5 Croatia’s costume revelations
(This image refused to upload. Apparently my computer refuses to cooperate with images depicting such hideous clothing…)
Tried and tested by: How much time do you have? There is two words for the quintessential costume reveal, however, and they are Bucks, and Fizz.
I love it because: it never gets old. Despite the fact that each and every one of Daria’s revealed outfits was appalling (and that the magician guy was always loitering creepily in the background) the quick changes were well executed and timed.
#6 Germany’s returning winner
Tried and tested by: several, including Carola, Dana International and Charlotte Perrelli – but the last winner to defend their title directly after winning was Corry Brokken in 1958.
I love it because: it showed how proud the Germans were of Lena and their victory, figuring she would do well again. I am still bitter that, in making the top 10, she did leapfrog Blue, but ultimately I have to be pleased about Germany’s turnaround in luck, which will hopefully continue in Baku.
#7 Cyprus’ bendy choreography
Tried and tested by: Sakis Rouvas (Greece 2009)
I love it because: it’s amazing! HOW do they do that? If you know the secret, I’m begging you, tell me. It’d be a great party trick to have up my sleeve (or possibly the leg of my pants).
#8 Slovakia and Ireland’s double acts
Tried and tested by: someone, I’m sure. Or should that be ‘someones’?
I love it because: one set of twins would’ve been great enough, but two sets? Well, that opened up the opportunity for some hilarious and “spontaneous” photographs, one of which I’ve stuck here for your enjoyment.
#9 Russia’s light-up leathers
Tried and tested by: Safura (Azerbaijan 2010). Sort of.
I love it because: who wouldn’t? Russia found an inventive way of getting Alex’s name up in lights, and for that I congratulate them.
#10 Lithuania’s lyrical sign language
Tried and tested by: Walters & Kazha (Latvia 2005)
I love it because: well, it’s the only notable gimmick left that isn’t Armenia’s giant boxing glove. I’m sure there’s people out there who would appreciate the gesture, although any hearing-impaired viewers would surely have lip-read the lyrics as Evelina sang them. Kudos to her anyway for multitasking.
NEXT TIME: In my last DIR post, I’ll be comparing my top 10 from this time last year with my current top 10. Have things changed? Time will tell…