A couple of weeks ago I applied for tickets to see a Katie Melua concert that was being recorded for Radio 2. I wasn’t successful. Then last Wednesday her record label ran a Facebook draw for pairs of tickets, and I won!
This was quite exciting – long-time readers will know of my unequivocal love for Ms Melua (8 years and counting) – so I cancelled my other plans, and asked around to see who a) wanted to come with me and b) was available. This proved tougher than expected. Despite emailing everyone in my uni year, putting a general call out on Twitter, and eventually having the official Radio 2 twitter account retweet my extra ticket to its 25k followers, I couldn’t find anyone. Which was a bit of a shame. But the evening was nonetheless excellent, all the more so because it turned out my tickets were VIP tickets.
All of us Facebook winners were asked to queue by the VIP entrance, which meant we got to skip the main queue. A guy ahead of me was also on his own, and the lady cheerily told him this was cool, and good for him, and you never know who you might pick up. I handed over my ticket, said it was just me, and she looked up and said ‘ok’. They also searched my bag. My camera was in there, and I was told:
If you get your camera out of your bag, two very large men will throw you out. Two. Very. Large. Men.
I said this was fine, and I obviously wouldn’t, and thanks and can I move on now, and they said:
Two very large men will be looking for cameras. Do not take your camera out of your bag. Two. Very. Large. Men.
Apparently they’re not keen on photography in the BBC Radio Theatre. So, hands as far from my bag as physically possible, I went through to the waiting area, and after a few minutes we were lead into the theatre. Where they sat us on the front row. Which is about 2 metres from the microphones. Blimey.
I will spare you too many superlatives, but Ms Melua did not disappoint. I’ve seen her a couple of times before, but never so close-up or in such a small venue (there are about 200 seats), and she gave a great performance. I was particularly impressed that The Flood was almost identical to the album version, as it seems quite complicated (not that I really know anything about music). And I was very happy that she played solo acoustic versions of I Cried For You and Piece by Piece, which are two of my favourites. It was also nice from a guitar-geek perspective to see exactly what and how she was playing on her electro-acoustic, while a behatted gent behind her handled some of the really complex leads. She had some pretty intricate finger-picking, and I think he spent half the time tapping harmonics at speed. As you do when you’re that good.
I did feel a little awkward on my own, particularly while waiting for the show to start. The couples around me were engrossed in conversation with each other, and phones had to be turned off, so I basically spent 15 minutes looking around the room in a gormless manner, feeling quite conspicuous. But that was hardly the end of the world.
She played for an hour, with various guests (William Orbit, Jack Savoretti and Beth Rowley) and a mixture of all four albums, concentrating on her latest. The concert will be on R2 next Thursday evening. I highly recommend listening, if it’s your kind of thing. At one point a gentleman stood up and loudly declared his love for Ms Melua. It was not me. Honest.