You may have read my previous post a few days ago declaring I’d had a busy week, one deserving of two blog posts.
Well here’s the second significant man. Ed Sheeran. (The first man can be found here.)
Do you remember my rant back in February ‘The Elusive Golden Ticket – Ed Sheeran‘? If you haven’t read it, or are hampered like me, with a memory like a sieve and want to remind yourself, then follow the link.
Everything I said in that post still stands. A lot needs doing to enable the fair sale of gig tickets to wheelers and the rest of music and theatre fans out there.
Fortunately for me I happen to be an O2 customer. You should have seen the glee on my face when I received a text from O2 (this time not telling me my bill was due to be paid) telling me that at 5pm today (13th March 2017) Ed Sheeran tickets would be on sale for a new show celebrating The O2 Arena’s 10th Birthday. I have another chance!
Long story short, after a LOT of redials I managed to bag myself the maximum, and last remaining, 4 accessible tickets. 2 wheelchair spaces and 2 companions.
I was going to see Ed Sheeran on 22nd June 2017. Yey!
Ed day was looming.
As you are aware there’s been a lot going down lately. Not just in England, all over the world. It’s not until something happens too close to home that you really take note. Well, the media really take note, and the media control our thoughts right? (I’m getting a little too deep here!).
I’m not very good at talking about stuff like this in a serious articulated way. It is beyond anything that my brain can fathom. And I’m glad it is. It’s very hard to understand something you have no experience of. Hard to understand the hate. Hard to understand the grief.
‘Terrorist’ a word conjured from somewhere to terrify us all.
Oxford Online Dictionary
Terrorist – Noun ‘A person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.’
‘Late 18th century: from French terroriste, from Latin terror (see terror). The word was originally applied to supporters of the Jacobins in the French Revolution, who advocated repression and violence in pursuit of the principles of democracy and equality.’
I don’t have anything to say about these. I’m just here to share!
Concerts, gigs and bars have been a target for this ‘terrorism’. A night out. A ticket to a gig. Something to be excited about. A night to remember.
I’m not somebody that thinks too much about these events. By that I don’t mean that the victims aren’t on my mind. They are. I mean that I don’t worry it will happen to me. You have to live.
Friends were saying to me ‘be careful’. I don’t know what kind of careful I was supposed to be….
This subject has had far too much attention for my liking and I didn’t mean for it to take over my writing. But it’s quite an important factor of the day. People carry on. This is England. Love prevails.
From what I could tell there were no empty seats that night at The O2.
Back to the cheery stuff. I’m seeing Ed Sheeran!
I’ve been to The O2 in London many a time, it’s one of my preferred indoor arenas, and most convenient for me. Easy to get to by car it takes around two hours (on a good day) to get from my front door, into my WAV, drive there, park, and walk to The O2 entrance. I always pre book my blue badge parking as it works out cheaper (still fairly expensive) than paying on the day. There are however plenty of parking places, blue badge and otherwise, I’ve never seen the carpark full.
Before we could even enter The O2, to access any of their facilities, restaurants, bars, clubs or cinema we had to pass through a security check where bags were searched. Everybody had to, don’t worry it wasn’t just me looking dodgy! This is a new process, that I assume is upped security due to recent events. I don’t know if this is the case recently or if this is only during gig days. It’s sad that things have come to this extreme, but either way if it puts people at ease, and deters any ‘trouble’, it can only be a good thing.
Liking to arrive in plenty of time, I do hate rushing, and late people annoy me! We planned to arrive early and get some food. All 4 of us probably being the most indecisive bunch you could compose, we (me) finally decided on Las Iguanas. I’d never been before and am always one to try something new. Also there wasn’t a queue. There must be 20+ eateries, but on event days (when no table booking is allowed) it can get very busy with people queuing out of restaurant doors.
Las Iguanas (like everywhere in The O2) was easy to access, on ground level with no steps. A busy afternoon, with many tables quite close together we were luckily seated not far into the restaurant at a decent size table with plenty of space around for us 2 wheelers. The table was also at the perfect height for us to wheel under, with no human or table legs in the way.
The menu we were given, I assume, was an event night menu, not as large as the usual menu and declared that you had 2 courses for £17.95 or 3 courses for £20 something, I can’t actually remember the exact price as we all opted for the 2 courses. Having to have 2 courses OBVIOUSLY meant that I had to have a dessert (shame), as only a fool would choose a starter over dessert! Which led me to browsing the desserts in order to help me choose my main. I opted for Bahian Coconut Chicken (yum), nothing too heavy if I want to make it through the Dulce de Leche Macadamia Cheesecake! Which I have to tell you was enormous and delicious (I couldn’t quite finish it off).
Stuffed to the brim we made our way to the arena entrance, bags checked again and screened by a metal detector. Once more new precautions I hadn’t experienced at The O2 before.
Just a quick note here to say that there are multiple accessible loos at the O2, evening including 1 Changing Place with a hoist inside the arena itself. On this occasion though, typically, the Changing Place was out of order (angry face), so I can’t give you my review. I did however use a standard ‘accessible’ loo, which was your average, adequate size bathroom, nothing to shout about. Just about enough space for myself and my PA to shuffle around each other.
Managing to secure the last remaining tickets, and being limited as to where we could sit due to being wheelers, meant that we didn’t have the best seats in the house. Nor did we have the worst. Wow some of those seats are high!
Seated near the back on level 1 just under the posh boxes we still had a great view, face on to the stage. The O2 Arena has one of the better accessible seating arrangements I’ve experienced. Still a very small percentage of tickets available are wheelchair accessible (I’d quite like to know the actual amount and will aim to find out) compared to the rest of the arena, you are still segregated in to areas, and still can only sit with 1 ‘able’ PA or friend, so if attending with a group have to sit separately. I myself don’t know the best way to handle this issue, to allow wheelchair users to sit with groups of friends, while still having maximum seating and fair play for all. That’s for another day anyway!
Back on track!
The support act this evening was Fuse ODG, not really my cup of tea but he did get the crowd going and warmed us all up with his catchy lyrics ready for Ed Sheeran.
Ed Sheeran was mesmerising. I’ve seen Ed live 3 times now, (excluding festivals) and am always astonished how one little guy can have as much stage presence as some of the greatest bands I’ve seen. He’s not a chatty man by any means, much more comfortable behind his guitar than talking about himself (which is what some acts seem to do too much of!), but that in some way makes him more relatable. He’s just like the boy next door. He did in fact grow up not far from me and would busk on local streets. Ed Sheeran didn’t need to entertain us with chatter though, we were there for the talent and the tunes, and wow, were we entertained, joyed, moved and any emotion you can think of.
It’s incredible how he works the pedal loop layering up acoustic guitar, rap and beatbox. Ed Sheeran needs no backing track or musicians, he is his own one man band, and a pretty cool one at that! Changing guitar almost every song, (I guess to be retuned) those guitars really do get a beating poor things, I’m surprised they last the set. Or do they?
Ed informed us we were being treated to his Glastonbury set, he was due there the following weekend and wanted to use this gig as a rehearsal. And we didn’t even have to get muddy! Ed played a mixture of tracks from all his albums, including the hits, to an amazing, sometimes psychedelic, backdrop of colourful animations juxtaposed with live imagery of Ed. Everyone singing and dancing along, forgetting where they were, forgetting their troubles, being in the ‘now’. Technology coming in to play where lighters were once used to sway along with the ballads, mobile phone torches now lit up the arena and the thousands of individuals, couples, friends and families.
I attended this Ed Sheeran gig with a childhood friend of mine, believe it or not we didn’t spend much more than a year together at school aged 12-13, before she moved away. And ever since then have had what I like to call a ‘long distance friendship’! Technology and social media has allowed us to speak almost everyday, even though we only see each other 2-3 times a year.
Many of our get togethers are organised around birthdays, events and gigs. Ed Sheeran being one of the highlights.
‘I couldn’t wait for a few days with one of my longest closest friends, half of me was excited and sceptical. I was finally going to see Ed Sheeran for the first time live. Loving most of his early stuff I was a little sceptical as I hadn’t properly listened to his latest album. I’ve been to a few gigs where all the band (no names sorry!) has played is new stuff I didn’t know or wasn’t really into. (Hint: it’s just nice to mix it up!) Boy was I wrong! The Glastonbury warmup! I loved the whole gig as he mixed new songs in with songs I knew every word to. I even got to hear my favourite song of his. I’m slowly ticking bands off my bucket list so hearing your favourite song by any artist included in a live set is a definite bonus.’ – Kirsty
I look forward to my next encounter with Ed Sheeran and catch up with Kirsty. You never know, maybe someday the 3 of us will be in the same room again!
I’ll leave you with way too many photos of an incredible performance. Go Ed!
Photo credits: Myself, Kirsty and Steph (my PA)