So haven’t gotten round to this till now but had a hectic, manic, mental few days for Blue October’s Any Man In America tour in the UK on the 3rd and 4th of November. For some still unknown reason the sis decided to book the earliest flight over to London on the Thursday so we were up at 4am! Early mornings are not my favourite so I was fairly grumpy having added to the fact work was very stressful that week leading to sleepness nights and stressful days so I wasn’t in great form to begin with! It also didn’t help that sis is at her chirpiness in the mornings and added to the excitement of seeing her favourite band, she was positively hyper and unbelieveably chatty! We stayed in the Swinton Hotel on Swinton Street near Kings Cross. That’s just say it was clean and functional and relatively close to the venue! We were meeting up with some fellow Blue fans. One brave Scottish lassie came on her own so we met her at the hotel and headed to the O2 Academy in Islington via Kings Cross!

Thankfully the venue is attached to a large shopping centre with cover while we queued which was just as well considering it was bucketing down. We met another Scottish clan there and the originals – Mr Strong and his lovely family. We had tickets for the soundcheck and a meet and greet with the band. I have to say if they were giving prizes for venues, Islington’s O2 Academy would be a sure winner. I’ve never been anywhere where the staff were so nice and helpful and with the bonus of cover while you wait outside. The Staff handed out water and were so polite. We had to go outside and queue again when the meet and greet was over. By then, the breakfast we had in the airport seemed a long time ago and two of the Scots made a food run to Sainsbury’s so we had sandwiches, cookies and coke to refuel.

No Crowdsurfing

Once we got in, we were lucky enough to be front and central. I’m loving the new album and seeing it live made me love it even more. Especially some of the songs that I wasn’t sure about on the album like The Flight and Any Man In America are truly stunning live. The album itself is very personal to Justin and deals with his custody battle for his daughter and his break down of his relationship and is so honest. Seeing him perform live you can feel the emotion with every song which is why their live shows are so powerful. Afterwards we headed to a pub across the road glad to be able to sit down and who should come in for a post-show beer only Jeremy, the drummer, who was as polite and friendly as ever. The landlord told us the whole band had come there the night before to kick off their European tour in style.

We had a lovely breakfast in the hotel – have to say they do an excellent deal for bed and breakfast – it may not be five star but it’s good value for money. Then we made our way to the train station after saying our goodbyes to Mr Strong and family who were heading home. We got there in plenty of time and our Scottish daddy checked out the platform number so we had coffee and chats before deciding five minutes to go to head down to the platform. Only to arrive and be told it was a different train and our actual train was due to leave in 5 minutes and so began the mad train dash which would have been funny if we didn’t have starring roles. Of course the platform was the other end of the station! All I can remember is the dazed ‘deer stuck in headlights’ expression on our faces and running as fast as our legs could carry us. Arrived when the conductor was blowing the whistle and shouting ‘this train leaves on time with or without you’, we launched ourselves onto the first available carriages red-faced, and hyperventilating. Of course it happened to be first class so we had to walk the length of the train looking for our reserved seats. Boy were we glad to have made it. We can laugh about it now!!

So onwards to Birmingham which was only an hour or so away and once our little hearts went back to normal, the journey flew by and before long the famous bullring, a huge shopping mall, was in sight. We were meeting another brave soul who was also coming on her own. We met in a pub in the station before heading to the bullring to grab some food. After the previous day surviving on breakfast and sandwiches just wasn’t enough! We all hopped into a taxi to take us to the ibis hotel in Holloway Circus which was close to the venue, O2 Academy. It literally couldn’t be any closer, it was practically next door. It was like a motel with the rooms all located off the carpark and it was ridiculously cheap.

The venue had three different gigs that night so it was extremely busy. We were supposed to be doing another meet and greet but the band were delayed in traffic so they decided to let us in for the soundcheck and do the meet and greet after so as not to delay as the venue had a curfew of 9.30! The long queuing process was helped along by funny faces [the Scottish started it] and general hilarity. The stage was tiny and there wasn’t room for the roadie whose job was made harder by the fact he had to jump on stage to fix leads and change guitars! Even with the fact they were late and looked a bit hassled and there were some technical issues and the stage was tiny, for some reason that gig was the better of the two. The set list was the same both nights and had a good mix of both old and new. Afterwards, we queued to meet the band and get photos taken. Can’t believe that was my sixth time seeing them in two years! It was still raining so we headed back to the ibis hotel bar for post-show drinks and lots of fun. It was another ungodly start the next morning with a 5am wake up call to the airport! So to all the Blue fans who made this UK trip special and you know who ye are – the Scottish clan [Scottish mammy, Scottish daddy and of course baby Scot Leith McTeeth]; brave Scottish lass, Squirrel and of course Mr Strong and family – remember we’ll always have Blue!