Friday, July 26, 2013

Dublin 2013

So London is left behind in a haze of post-concert exhaustion, airport shuttles with no free wi-fi and mazes of security checks (be sure to put all your liquids and gels in a clear plastic bag, but no worries if you completely forget you have about 5 bottles of hand sanitiser in your bag). Before long, we're flying over something very green and, well, island-ish. I think it's safe to assume that this is Ireland. Oh, how I look forward to speaking to people who all sounds as though they've just popped out of an early 2000s boyband (cough, Westlife). On the bus from the airport into town, I'm astounded at how normal Ireland looks. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't think they'd be living in little druid hills, but London just seems to hisorical, and the outskirts of Dublin would probably be mistaken for some cute little central KZN town.

Once in town itself, we dodge a couple of 100 G8 protesters, and luckily are able to find the hotel relatively quickly (this is the last time things work out so easily, sigh). Set above a pub, our room is on the 4th floor, up at least a million narrow stairs. But it's lovely and comfortable and - thankfully - has a shower curtain. We take a quick walk down to the shops, and are rewarded with the presence of an M&S - and our first experience with their outstanding custard slices. Interesting thing in Dublin is that they use Euros here instead of Pounds - so no we get to multiply everything by 14 instead of 16. Oh well, it's something.

While my real mission here is seeing The Gaslight Anthem, I'm quite happy to spend the next morning wandering around the streets, checking out all the cute little souvenir shops full of shamrocks and green and sheep. Turns out Dublin is really quite tiny and we're able to get everywhere on foot, even the Olympia Theatre, where Gaslight are to perform, is only a ten minute walk from the hotel.

Although we've got seats for the concert (due to my failed creeping skills resulting in my not knowing Gaslight were even playing until a few weeks before), I've decided that we need to get to the venue early so that we can creep the tourbus and make buddies with the roadies. And if we just happen to run into frontman Brian Fallon and his neck tattoo, then so be it.

The tour bus is - of course - outside the stage entrance by the time we get there, and a small group of hopeful fans have gathered outside, hoping for a glimpse of the band. Said group includes two young teenage boys, a guy with a camera bigger than his face, a reporter-type in a U2 t-shirt, and his buddy who keeps asking me who my favourite bands are, so that Reporter-type can show me photos of himself with them. When he says that The Killers were pretty stand-offish and didn't stop to speak to him, I tell him how they came to hug the fans at Leeds and he seems to believe me. We're best buddies for about 5 minutes til he wanders off. Report-type (in my head I am referring to him as 'NME' by now) disappears too, and the five or so of us remaining are left to jump everytime the door opens. Sadly it's always a member of staff. We're eventually rewarded when a pair of tattooed knuckles appears in the window above our heads. It's none other than Brian himself, having a sneaky smoke out the window in hopes that no one will see him. He doesn't respond to Giant Camera's request to please come down for an autograph, but I forgive him - he's shy and we're creepy.

Inside, we discover our seats are in the second row on the bottom level, so we're basically looking down on the band, and it's a great angle. Support act Jogging are not exactly my cup of tea, but I tolerate them because they're Irish and when they say their name it comes out 'Joggin' ' and it sounds really cute.

By then end of Gaslight's first song, 'Handwritten', I've already decided that I'll have to get tickets for their show here tomorrow night as well - perfection like this needs to be witnessed on as many occasions as possible. Although I saw Gaslight last year at Reading, nothing can compare to seeing a band at a show that is entirely their own. Brian's on top form, making quips about everything from Obama who's in town visiting to how Jon Bon Jovi couldn't possibly reach the high notes in 'Living on a Prayer' anymore. He also tells of his love for the song 'Blue Dahlia', and how sad he is that it didn't make the final cut of Handwritten. 'Film Noir', 'Keepsake' and 'The Queen of Lower Chelsea' are my three standout songs of the night, but absolutely every track was perfect. Brian's voice is beautiful, and he puts an unbelievable amount of feeling into his performance. Right, that's settled then, tomorrow I'm booking the next set of tickets.

As it turns out, the only tickets left happen to be in the unassigned seating area right on the top level, but it's really not that bad. We can still see and hear perfectly, and are still 100x closer to the stage than at 90% of the stadium shows I've been to in the past few years.

We don't feel the need to creep around the tour bus for hours today, so we wander through the town looking at various churches, parks and ... the Dublin Castle, which is really not that impressive. Later on, we're rewarded with a Gaslight set slightly varied from last night's, including 'Meet Me By The River's Edge', which I'd not heard live before.

All in all, a more than successful trip to Dublin, which ends off with a quick and painless ride back to the airport, to begin London: Round Two.

London 2013 Part Three: More Touristy Fun and The Boss at Wembley

The Tower of London: a place of murder, treason, terror and... murder. Crawling with 11th century ghosts and positively overflowing with the presence of doom and despair. Or simply crawling with overseas tourists and positively overflowing with overpriced souvenir shops. But it is a great tourist attraction after all, and it was something we just had to do. At 21 Pounds entry each, it sure had to be something spectacular, and we weren't disappointed. Although I'm sure the Beefeaters didn't quite know that when they signed up they were really becoming glorified tour guides, they manage to do a decent job leading our herd of sheep-like tourists around. Oh, and might I mention that it's about -4 degrees by the time we get to the Tower. OK, I'm probably exaggerating, but only slightly. Clad in jeans, boots, jersey, hat and whatever else I could find, I'm still shivering in the icy wind, and attempting - unsuccessfully to shelter under a signboard. The Tower really is impressive, but cynical me is left wondering how much of it is the real 11th century building, and how much has been reconstructed in recent years. Nevertheless, it's interesting, and quite an exciting way to spend a morning. The highlight is most definitely the crown jewels (you know, those things Mr Bean stole in Johnny English... or protected... or something). There's also an obscene amount of gold basins, goblets, and who knows what else - you name it, and there's a gold one at the Tower of London. Sadly no pictures are allowed in this area. The things you are allowed to photograph are the several suits of armour scattered around the museum and grounds. And the ravens. Lunch is - thankfully - just about anything you can think of in a help-yourself type restaurant. I opt for a chicken stew as the one and only thing not on offer is the one and only thing that's been on my mind since landing - a good old roast chicken accompanied by some roast potatoes and gravy. Mmmm.

The rest of the day is spent around Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, the latter of which the news tells me is now being guarded by a massive, blue, uh, chicken (I kid you not, google it). All pretty fountains appropriately stared at, we make our way back to the hotel for yet another welcome night of sleep.

The last touristy/cultural thing we really feel the need to do before we give in to temptation and just hit the shops, is the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Turns out the palace is supposedly only a ten minute walk, so we hit the road yet again, and - of course - turn up about an hour early. After a quick walk through St James' Park (where a pigeon doesn't take kindly to my pretending to have food for him and gives me a good bite on the finger), the nearest Starbucks is swiftly located, and the most delicious sticky/custard/chelsea bun in the world is obtained. Yum. It also just so happens that said Starbucks is directly opposite Scotland Yard - cue more photos. Despite our best intentions,we never actually end up watching the changing of the guard at all, but we do see them all lined up about to march to the palace, and that's more than enough. Back on the tube we go.

The Royal Albert Hall is probably my very favourite building in London (for reasons 'unknown'...), and I insist that that we make a stop here so that I can repeat last year's photo of myself starring in awe as I touch the building in which my favourite band recorded their first DVD. Oi, stop judging me.

At some stage we also end up at Kennsington Palace - where Brits are sprawled out on the lawns taking in some rare sunshine, and even I reluctantly undo the buttons of my coat.

We've chosen tonight to go on a two hour walking tour of London, exploring sites related to Jack The Ripper. Rephrase: my mother has chosen tonight to take me on a two hour jaunt into the wonderful world of frostbite. A scarf, hat and coat are nothing against this so-called 'summer' weather. In an amusing turn of events, the guide is the same guy who took us on a walking tour of Harry Potter sites last year. He pretends to recognise us. I proceed to recite his lame speech about how his name is Richard, but he's really glad he's not Richard III. Some things never change.

Saturday. The day of The Boss. Yes, that's right, that star-spangled rockstar who's been dancin' in the dark since the 80s is still going strong - so strong in fact, that he's playing Wembley tonight. Although I had sat compulsively refreshing Ticketmaster the day the tickets went on sale, the best seats I was able to get were in the top tier, but so what... we're seeing Bruuuuuuuuce!  My sources (OK, Jess and Ryan who arrived from Manchester at 8am) say that there are almost 2000 people in the queue already, so I'm actually quite glad I'm sitting for once.

After a lovely lunch (finally, roast chicken and veggies!) and wander around the V&A Museum with Jen and Cara, we make our way to Wembley around 3pm. Although the immediate vicinity lacks a visible Starbucks, we are able to find something even more familiar - a Wimpy! Yes, the logo and colour scheme are a little different, but there's no mistaking that it's the same brand. Whilst sitting cozily in said Wimpy, nursing my third cup of tea, the heavens open. Here I am actually not exaggerating at all. I'd never seen rain like that in my life (until I got to Rome, that is). People outside run for cover, brollies inside out in protest against the howling wind. Eek. Here's hoping Wembley has one of those cool little roofs that can close at the first sign of a torrential downpour (it doesn't).

Luckily it's not too long before the rain subsides, but the damage is done: next time I see Jess and Ryan they're soaked though, raincoats and all. And if I had thought it was cold the day before; if I had thought it was cold at last year's Rocking The Daisies; if I had thought that it had been cold at 4am when I woke up for work, I was about to discover a whole new level of cold. Although Google tells me that the predicted temperature for that day dropped to 11 degrees, this doesn't take into account the wind chill, and the fact that Wembley Stadium  seems to summon wind to zoom around it in hysterical circles. I estimate the real feel to have been about 4 degrees. Bruce t-shirt acquired (nevermind that I'm too cold to take my coat off to put it on), we're soon let through the turnstiles. Although you must please remember to hand the cap of any water bottles to the security guards on your way in - it's perfectly acceptable to chuck a bottle of water into the crowd, but Heaven forbid you should possess a cap  to throw. #logic

The average age of the people around me is approximately 90 ... no kidding, I'm the youngest person by 26 years (next youngest is my mother). So either all the young fans are down in the golden circle - or young people simply have no taste in music. Sigh, kids these days.

Of course, Bruce has no need for something as mundane as an opening act, as he quite enjoys playing a three hour set himself. Opening with 'Land of Hopes and Dreams', the audience response in my section is less fanatical screaming and more quiet appreciation - lest any concert-goers should lose a denture. I'm not even going to pretend that I'm familiar with the next three songs (sign requests from the crowd) but 'Rosalita' makes me feel a sudden urge to put on my dancin' shoes. 'Hungry Heart' is possible my favourite Bruce song, so when that comes up as the last sign request, I squeal and positively jump up and down in delight. As is customary, Bruce lets the crowd sing the first verse and chorus, and delightedly tells us that we sound great. Aw, thanks Bruce. It's as though someone has forgotten to tell Bruce Springsteen that he's a 63-year-old man, rather than an 18-year-old boy, playing some tunes in the garage with his mates. He has a mischievous grin on his face all night, and a boundless energy second to none. It's evident from the way they play that the E-Street band have been together for as long as any of them can remember. They seem to form a seemless whole, able to take one glance at a sign request and all launch into the song at exactly the same instant. Plus they just seem to be having so much fun! Drummer Max Weinberg must be into his 60s, but is going for it just as hard as the 20-something drummer of any number of awful mainstream pop-rock bands. And Bruce himself... well, there's a reason they call him The Boss: he's flawless.

"We could keep taking requests, or we could play Darkness on the Edge of Town in full..." We probably didn't really have a choice, but seeing Darkness is most people's favourite Bruce album, we had no problems with this. After the album has been completed, fun comes around in the form of the ridiculously  upbeat 'Shackled & Drawn', a tiny audience member brought onstage for 'Waiting on a Sunny Day', and my other favourite 'The Rising'. Encore includes a touching 'Bobby Jean' (which is totally about Steve van Zandt), a danceable cover of 'Twist and Shout' (finally the old age home around me starts standing up), and of course 'Dancing in the Dark', which makes me jump so much that for a second I honestly fear that I might fall off the stands and topple into the row in front of me. Bruce takes to the stage one last time - alone - for a special second encore: an acoustic of 'Thunder Road'. I'm genuinely surprise (but not disappointed, really) that they don't do 'Born in the USA', but I guess when you're The Boss, you don't have to answer to anyone. Seeing Springsteen is a bit of a life-defining moment - it's definitely something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Whether you know all the songs or not, it's about appreciating that there are some real legends in the world of music, and this man is one of them. An absolutely amazing show, and definitely in my top 5 concerts ever.

By the time the show ends (after Bruce's little joke about wondering if someone's going to pull the plug on him for going over time), I'm completely and utterly exhausted. The walk from the Victoria Station back to the hotel is the longest 8 minutes of my entire life. I can't even think. And I have to be up at 6am tomorrow for a flight to Dublin.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

London 2013 Part Two: Camden, Coldplay, and a Famous Crossing

... Shop, and explore a brand new part of London! Of course the town is far too big to cover in one trip, and although half of me feels like I've returned to my long-lost home, the other half feels like I'm in some kind of alien city.

You discerning individuals should be aware that Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral are two different places, and we stumble upon the latter on our first excursion. With aching feet we sit down inside to 'admire the architecture', when in fact we're just trying to rest our broken bodies. Oh but yeah, the architecture is great too, thumbs up. Continuing on, we find our first M&S, where I get myself one of those flawless lemonades (I'm not actually entirely sure that I did get a lemonade at this point, but I know that I had intended to. What I do remember is getting a packet of salt & vinegar chips and being really confused because the packet was green and that's sour cream & onion colour). Photographic evidence suggests that it was cloudy with a chance of showers, and that I soon located some red phone boxes to Instagram.

The hotel, perhaps, deserves its own review entirely. Yes, there was wi-fi (even though I had to pay 5 Pounds for it); yes, breakfast was included (two slices of toast each served but a young Hungarian girl who may or may not have been a slave stolen from her motherland); yes, it was perfectly comfortable; but the one thing that got to me was the bathroom set-up: seems the designer had some irrational fear of shower curtains. The bathroom is a tiny box - walls and floor all tiled in brown - consisting of a toilet, basin and shower head. Yeah, that's right, just a shower head, chilling there opposite the loo. I raise a concerned eyebrow, and suggest that we check if the Premier Inn down the road has any availability. They don't.

At my current level of exhaustion, the furthest thing in the world from my mind is checking out the London nightlife scene, but at least the hotel room has a TV (and a kettle), which keeps showing re-runs of How I Met Your Mother, and a summer advert of sorts featuring Icona Pop's 'I Don't Care'. It's a pleasant way to fall asleep. And even if it wasn't, it wouldn't matter - because I'm in England.

Now, as much as I'd love to say that the next day dawned bright and sunny, it did not. The cloudy skies continued to threaten rain, and a biting wind caught us as we made out way to the nearest tube station (which, as it turns out, was not Victoria at all, but Pimlico). First stop is - of course - Camden. Ah yes, I want to drink their Starbucks, and wander around their markets, and just take in the general awesomeness. One step out of the station and a thrill runs through me - this is my place! This is where I belong, yo! It's a hot chocolate from Starbucks for me (and free wifi, yay), before we make our way through the markets, where I try my hand at bargaining with the vendors. Turns out I'm pretty good, I manage to get a 10 Pound jersey for 8, which is cheap even if I consider the exchange rate! Camden is just as wonderful as I had remembered, and at least this time I didn't feel the need to spend an hour looking for Coldplay's studio as I had last year - oh no, this time I was in search of Chris Martin's very neighbourhood. The internet tells me that the Martin-Paltrow's live in Belsize, which it then goes on to tell me is near Primrose Hill - a mere walk from Camden. Ha!

All creeping aside though, walking up Primrose Hill (which is barely an incline, let alone a hill) will give you the most stunning view of London, and you're sure to have quite an adventure trying to figure out just how each attraction relates to the next geographically. One minute you could swear your hotel is on that side of town, but at the same time you're positive it's somewhere near Big Ben, which is quite clearly on the other side of town. Hmm.

Back in Camden, we're ready to run for food at the nearest Micky Dee's, but luckily it doesn't come to that: Camden's bursting with Real English Pubs that serve Real English Food, and pie chips and gravy are the way to go. I try to avoid starring at the Amy Winehouse look-alike in the corner... Amy was from Camden after all, maybe her ghost haunts the local pub? Or maybe it's a distant relation of her's. Or maybe it's not.

We head off to the Tower of London in the afternoon, but find that the last tour has left about 3 minutes before - yeah, that's what we get for not checking the times online beforehand! So instead we head off to Baker Street and Abbey Road. The Rock n Roll Memorabilia shop on Baker Street was basically where my bank balance went to die (who doesn't need a set of Coldplay coasters, right?), and the Beatles store right across the road was a treat too. By now it's almost 6.30pm, but luckily the sun stays out until around 9pm during summer, so we take a stroll around the upper class Maida Vale/Abbey Road area. Besides the famous Abbey Road crossing, I have my heart set on finding a sign that says 'Violet Hill', like the Coldplay song - and anyone who knows me knows that once I get an idea in my head, I won't stop until I've completed it.

Turns out the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing is pretty easy to find: besides being on Abbey Road, right outside the studio, it's the only pedestrian crossing that groups of tourists are striding across in groups of four, much to the disgrace of the locals attempting to use the road to, you know, drive on. It takes a while, but eventually we have the money shot, and continue on our merry way through the suburbs. If you've ever thought that you couldn't live in London because it's a bit crowded, or run down or gross, think again: you could certainly live here. Oh no, wait, you wouldn't be able to afford to unless you had a farm of kidneys to sell whenever you needed to pay the rent. But anyway, I was on a mission to find Violet Hill, and I found it alright! It's a tiny road next to a park, and as I posed for a photo with the sign, the rain started - just a drizzle at first, and then picking up to a level where we needed to whip out that disgustingly cliche Union Flag umbrella we'd bought at some tourist shop (probably in Camden). We hit the bus and then the tube back, but before returning to the hotel, I had one more mission: find the TARDIS.

Yes, yes, I know I'm a geek, but what kind of Doctor Who fan would I be if I didn't try to find the real life TARDIS near the entrance to Earle's Court tube station? Whilst I'm pretty confident in my internet-creeping skills, I will admit that I did have my doubts, sloshing through the rain at 8.30pm on a Wednesday night, looking for a giant blue box. But HA! I found it! And a couple of photos later (and a quick stop at M&S to find dinner - of course I forgot to get a plastic fork, and was left eating my pasta salad with a teaspoon) and I'm satisfied that we can go back to our hotel and pass out.

London 2013 Part 1: Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet? Apparently not. Apparently we haven't even boarded the plane yet. Sigh. How unfortunate it is that no one's invented teleportation yet - if there's one thing I could do without it's a 20 hour flight. But one does need to make certain sacrifices for the great good, and if there ever was a greater good, it's this trip to London.
London. Ever since I'd returned from my first UK adventure last August, I'd thought of nothing but going back. So let me thank my favourite band for announcing their Wembley headline show for June 2013, and giving me the perfect excuse to plan another trip! On some levels I couldn't even begin to comprehend going back - yes, it's exciting the first time you visit a new country, but for me knowing what I was in store for had me all the more excited!
And so day finally arrived: a cold and wet Cape Town morning saw us on the shuttle to the airport around 9am, for the flight which was to depart for Dubai at 1pm. Thankfully unlike last year, we were not 8 hours early, so were able to drop our bags off immediately (weighing 11.5kg and 14kg at the time - this was soon to change), but entertaining oneself in an airport for even three hours is a bit of a stretch.

After dragging Wimpy breakfast out for as long as possible, and a quick look around the airport shops, we find the boarding gate, and I begin Instagramming the most cliche of things (including my boarding pass and what I assume is our plane) because you know what? I'm going on holiday, and the whole world had better know about it! Emirates does always make for a comfortable, decent flight, but the issue here is that we're flying partly during the day and partly through the night, meaning we're sure to arrive in London without having slept in approximately 24 hours. Sigh. I get halfway through Les Mis before the food arrives and I decide that I need something involving slightly less brainwork so that I can try to nap after lunch/supper/whatever meal this is that has broken free of the constraints of time. Cue re-watching episodes of The Big Bang Theory  and some Modern Family  that I'm pretty sure I watched on last year's flight.

Upon landing in Dubai circa 10pm (only 29 degrees outside at the moment), we have exactly 40 minutes to get to our boarding gate. Now, whilst this may sound like a long time, have you ever been to Dubai airport? Have you had to remove half your clothes for security checks (I exaggerate only slightly), and then dash to what will most definitely be the very furthest boarding gate? No? Well it can take far more than 40 minutes. Mad dash ensues. Of course we make it, with about 15 minutes to spare, and join the group of exhausted-looking travellers attempting to control screaming five-year-olds, beg their phones to connect to the wi-fi, and generally keep themselves awake.

I'm not sure whether or not I ever actually fell asleep on the flight to England, but it seemed to drag on for even longer than its 7 hours. Longest. Flight. Ever. But it's all worth it when I see those familiar green fields and I know that we're coming in to land. Ah, Gatwick Airport. I'm finally here - back in my Sam's Town. It's around 7.30am on Tuesday morning, and my first order of business is a simple one: find the NME. With that done, I accept the fact that, despite my generally dislike of coffee, I need someone to inject caffeine into my veins before I simply keel over and die of exhaustion. Unfortunately there's no Starbucks at the airport, so I accept a Costa latte with a grimace - it will have to do. We've decided to do things a little differently this time - instead of a hire care, we'll be completely reliant on public transport, which could either work out a lot cheaper, or be a complete disaster. The best way to get from the airport to town is on the Gatwick Express (the bus is a lot cheaper, but even the lady at the bus kiosk said we should take the train instead), and it's bustling with people even at this early hour. So much so, in fact, that we don't manage to get seats, but rather stand next to our luggage for the duration of the 30 minute ride, whilst attempting to not spill aforementioned Costa latte.

Our hotel is - in theory - a five minute walk from Victoria Station, but in which direction is anybody's guess. North, East, South and West are helpful concepts only when one is possessed of a compass, which currently I was not (or so I thought). It also does not help that most of the maps in London are, for some unfathomable reason, upside down. In retrospect, pulling 11.5kg of luggage and carrying a 2.5kg backpack seems like kind of a joke (you'll understand later), at the time it was kind of a big deal. Also not forgetting the fact that we'd been travelling for 20 hours by now. The hotel, as it transpires, is really only about 8 minutes from the station, but seeing it's not even 9am (check in is at 2pm), the best we can do is drop our bags off and hit the road again.

So, what does one do on one's first day back in London, after 20 hours' worth of traveling? Why, one shops, of course!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Climbing Those Stairs to Wembley

How do you summarize the day your entire life has been leading up to? I'm not even being that dramatic... everytime I see my favourite band live I feel like my whole life has led up to that moment when they walk on stage. Ever since that fateful Cape Town evening in 2009, my life had been a constant wait for the next time I would see them. I waited almost three years for the Leeds and V Fest show, and then commenced another wait. I never thought said wait would in fact turn out to be only ten months. Roll on Wembley...

Of course we hit London two weeks early - just in case there was a volcanic eruption/giant meteorite/new ice age or baggage handler's strike - so Wembley seemed like it was still very, very far away. It wasn't til the rest of the Victims began to descend upon  the town the day before, that it started to feel real. Brandon was on the cover of the NME, I had my Victims t-shirt and Battle Born flag ready, and I was rearing to go. Is it time to queue yet? But of course it wasn't. Time seemed to pass slower and slower as the day progressed. A welcome distraction was going to meet Victim friend and now real life friend Amii off her coach at Victoria station as I was staying nearby... cue hugging and squealing - we're going to see The Killers!

Last year I'd managed second row at the Leeds warm-up by queueing from 10am, but now I was divided: on one hand, barrier at Wembley was much bigger - so I had a better chance - but conversely, there were roughly 70 000 more people at Wembley. So what time to queue? I'd thought around 9am, but began to think that earlier was better as I spoke to more and more Victims. I finally decided on waking up at 6am, dressing and hurrying down to Victoria station to catch the Victoria line to Green Park and then Jubilee to Wembley Park - I was getting SO good at this whole London Underground thing!

10pm the night before saw me still on Twitter joining in the mass freakout, and unable to sleep, no matter how many times I told myself that a good night's sleep is a must the night before a concert. It seemed that they had soundchecked 'The River Is Wild', which just happens to be my second favourite Killers song! Never having seen it live before, the very thought nearly reduced me to a shaking mess on the floor. But I refused to get my hopes up.

Being from SA, Saturday's chilly and somewhat drizzly weather required a coat, a hat, jeans and boots - and I was still cold! I missed my target of 7am by quite a long shot, still being on the train at 7.45am, but we made it to the stadium around 8am. We joined the queue at gates G/F as we were collecting tickets at the box office, but had been advised by Gigs & Tours that under the circumstances we would be allowed to use any gate (don't let me get started on what happened with this later - long story short they lied).

Aaaaand cue more squealing and hugging! Right near the front are Emma M, Sinead, Jess and Ryan (sporting raincoats after getting soaked through at Springsteen the week before - wish I'd done the same, I have nothing but a thin poncho which later became less useful than a plastic bag). And though you all told me it wasn't that cold, I could see on your faces that you were just as freezing as I was! (The duvet you were snuggling under was a giveaway too. As was the tent.)

So we join Amii in queue but by now it's most definitely breakfast time. My whole not-eating-on-concert-days thing is definitely a problem that I need to get over - force-feeding yourself because you're too excited to eat is far from ideal. I feel like I might be able to shove down a bacon roll though, and McDonald's isn't too far away, so we make the first trip of the day, stopping along the way at some sort of supermarket to look for a blanket/towel to sit on when that impending rain finally begins. We end up with a large, collapsed cardboard box - ah well, it's something.

Besides one concerned old lady's strange look (she either thought I was homeless or a protester, carrying a massive box), we manage to make it back unscathed - well, except for a large tomato sauce stain on my clean black jeans and half my cup of tea dripping down my arm.

Re-united with Amii & Shantell and Aaron in the queue, miss Neon Captain decides it's time for some queue videos ie: time for me to pose like a fool thinking she's taking a photo, only to watch the video and see myself going "Why aren't you taking a photo... OH are you videoing me?!" Hilarity ensues upon that large cardboard box where we are all trying to stay warm amongst a debris of umbrellas, plastic bags, and assorted flags (minus Aaron's Nevada flag, which has been tragically lost somewhere along the way). I also manage to drop 90 Pounds on merch including a hoodie, special Wembley T-shirt and absolutely stunning tour programme.

The queue starts to build up, and before long there are even more familiar faces milling around including Emma B (I love your accent, even though you don't!), Emma P (one day we really will meet Brian Fallon together, I promise), Ben (all the way from Miami), Leah, James, Andrea and even none other than Torey.

"Someone's taking photos....d'you think it's Torey?"
"It's Torey!"
Oh, hi, official band photographer. Amii and I pose in our matching Battle Born hoodies, but I decide that I need one with my SA flag too.
"Torey!" I say, jumping up and praying that he doesn't wonder how the hell I know his name. "D'you want to take a pic... flags... yeah great, thanks! Have a good day!" And I sit back down, having officially met yet another one of those people on that DVD that I've watched far too many times.

This is when the whispers start... whispers... whispers of... another DVD. Could it be? We're almost certain that we've heard it wasn't going to be recorded, but now Pulse films are tweeting, and the stadium isn't denying anything, plus there's a guy with a video camera trailing Torey and word from the other gates is saying that people have been interviewed. Is it really possible then? Could we all somehow feature on a DVD of our favourite band?

As gate time inches ever closer, we make a deal: there's Mark's side barrier or there's nothing. There can be no compromise. I'm shaking with adrenaline by the time the security guards start shepherding us forward like little sheep in a flock. Due to general chaos, it's quite possible to have been right near the front of the line and have 200 people get in before you....

My heart's in my chest and the security is being very strict about everyone staying calm and walking slowly - in retrospect I can see why they didn't laugh at my "I'm from Africa, this is how I walk!" comment a few minutes later. But we've finally being let in and everything is a blur - just make sure you're heading in the right direction; I don't care that I can have my water bottle back, just keep the damned thing; no, I don't have any weapons; okay, yeah that's the entrance; where are we?; right at the back, now move it; yes, yes, I'm walking, I'm from Africa - this is how we walk. And then finally we're second row Mark's side, along with Amii, Natalie and Duncan. It's not barrier, but it's pretty darn close.

The stage is massive and it takes a while to actually take everything in: the Nevada state flag logo above the stage, the two massive lightning bolts on either side, large contraptions that are clearly confetti ('K'onfetti, perhaps?) cannons... oh, and the fact that we're in the second row for our favourite band's biggest headline show ever

It's not long to wait now... possibly two hours or so, and those two hours seem to drag even slower than the rest of the day, which somehow went quite quickly. There's not too much one can do to stave off boredom once inside the stadium, so after trying (unsuccessfully) to wave to Emma and James in the seats, Amii and I take to repeating "We're seeing The Killers... The actual Killers." every few minutes, just in case we'd forgotten.

But we hadn't. And by the time James came on, many of us were ready to ask them to kindly turn around and march back off because we wanted The Killers already! But us Victims are such a lovely bunch that we'd never have done anything of the sort. And so we watched politely as the singers danced and thrashed and convulsed upon the stage, backed up by a gnome-ish man on the drums (I credit Amii for re-naming them Gnome On The Drums), and gave them a cheerful round of applause after they played the one and only song I knew last.

Of course we couldn't get by with only one opening act, but at least next up was my second favourite band in the world: none other than The Gaslight Anthem. Brian's cheeky sense of humour came out early on when he asked the crowd "You're here to see The Killers? You like that? That 'Mr Brightside'? 'All These Things That I've Done'?" and then went ahead and giggled at himself before telling us that they're the best band from Vegas, and a good way to spend a Saturday night. If I wasn't in love with this New Jersey boy and his neck tattoo already, I sure was now. They played a standard short set including new songs 'Mullholland Drive' and 'Handwritten' and old hits like 'The '59 Sound', but unfortunately did not cave to Jess and I begging them on Twitter to play 'Even Cowgirls Get The Blues'. I have seen TGA four times now and am yet to see this song, fail.

Enter the likes of Rob, BLP, Matt Bruenig and the rest and we knew the time had almost come. Then there was the issue of the pesky little setlist that had been taped to a camera in front of us, and despite my best efforts to not look, I ended up seeing what the first two songs were. Wow, now that was sure to be something. Opening with 'Enterlude' and launching into 'When You Were Young' was not something I'd ever seen live before, but it was definitely set to blow the audience's minds. Whilst I maintained that the entire band should sit behind a curtain which should then be raised as they sang 'Enterlude', we knew it would consist of BF alone behind his piano, and we were not disappointed.

The thrill that runs through a crowd this size when the band is about to come out, is indescribable. I'm getting chills just thinking about it over a month later. The stadium was full, the atmosphere was charged, and we were more than ready to do Battle. And before we knew it, the Battle had begun...

"We hope you enjoy your stay, it's good to have you with us even if it's just for the day..." started off a grinning Brandon Flowers, before he was joined by the rest of his powerhouse of a band to screech off into 'When You Were Young' at high speed. The crowd was mad, our feet were off the floor, heads banging, fists pumping in time, and not a single word missed. These were the fans who had dedicated years to this band, and boy did they make us proud. By the time 'Spaceman' came around, the audience was on another planet, and our 'oh, oh's could have deafened half the population of London.

'The Way It Was' is the first of the new songs to show up, and even if the general population weren't sure of every lyric, the Victims sure made up for it - screaming along to every single beat just as enthusiastically as if it had been 'Mr Brightside'. A highlight of this song is certainly Ted's backing vocals towards the end, super cool live effect and very different to the CD version of the song.

Even though the show is just getting started, Brandon's excitement is visible in his face and his actions. Jumping on top of whatever he can find, flashing that perfect smile so often that you begin to wonder how he's even managing to sing, and criss-crossing the stage like a maniac. Mark's getting into so much that I swear I see a little grin, and Ronnie's smashing the drums with such abandon that one begins to wonder if he's going to smash right through them. Unfortunately I have almost no view of Dave except when he takes to the spotlight for Brandon to lavish praise upon his 'brother', David Brent Keuning.

"I'm going to give you just a little taste..." Brandon says, firing up his synth and the Bolt lights up in neon for the beginning of the infectious 'Smile Like You Mean It', a favourite of mine. By the time they really do start 'River', it's enough to send me over the edge, and if I possessed tear ducts, they would probably have been working around now.

Although I have nothing in particular against the Joy Division cover, 'Shadowplay', I do wish they'd cut it from the setlist and replace it with one of their own songs. In my humble opinion, if I wanted to see Joy Division I would buy a ticket to-- oh, bad description, but you know what I mean. I'd prefer 'This Is Your Life', 'Sam's Town', or indeed 'Sweet Talk'. Amii's in agreement about the last one, so we band together and scream 'PLAY SWEET TALK' before lapsing into giggles and proceeding to sing along to 'Shadowplay' all the same.

Although 'Here With Me' is enough to reduce almost everyone around me to tears, 'From Here On Out' offers some fun in the way of Brandon taking it in turns to ask each of his bandmates if they're ready to dance. "Mark Stoermer," he says, eyes shining, "Have you got your dancin' shoes on?" Mark's murderous expression is enough to let BF know that he certainly does not have his damned dancing shoes on, but Brandon giggles anyway. After a quick riff by Dave and a shouting drum solo by Mr Ronnie Unstopable Vannucci  Jnr, they launch into the countrified song. Whether you're a fan of this polarising song or not, you get out those dancin' shoes and you danced.

Roll on my favourite song in the world 'A Dustland Fairytale' (the song I credit with changing the entire course of my life, but I won't get into that), and I'm barely able to sing, but rather stand with my hand over my heart, entirely at peace with the world for those four minutes. Utter bliss. What I don't know is that the biggest surprise of the night is about to jump out at me like a three-headed monster.

Wembley Song. That's what it's called and that's what it is: a special song written just to mark the joyous occasion that is The Killers playing Wembley Stadium. An ode to the stadium, a memorial to the artists who have played before, a trip down memory lane through the band's history, and a thank you. We are the only 73000 people who will ever hear this song live, and I'm honoured.

We seem to be heading towards the end now, and 'All These Things That I've Done' explodes in a shower of 'K' and lightning bolt-shaped confetti, which we all scramble to grab. And then Ronnie's throwing some drumsticks, and they're gone far too soon. But we know not to move a muscle. The crowd manages to sing a quick Happy Birthday to an impressed-looking BF before the encore erupts to life with 'Flesh and Bone', 'Jenny', 'Battle Born' (cue whipping out of a few hundred Nevada state flags) and finally Mr Brightside. By the end I'm lost in the crowd, not attempting to take photos or indeed to keep my feet upon the ground. It's been 24 songs, and we're still flying.

By the time the band leave for good, we're all covered in a mixture of sweat, tears, confetti and raindrops, and I for one wouldn't have it any other way. Quick goodbye hugs to everyone I can find (including Jess and Sinead who now have a Ronnie drumstick) and quick hello to Sarah a few rows behind me, and then we're off. It has been the most euphoric, unbelievable night of my entire life,shared with thousands of people all united for the same reason. And though I dashed across London just too slowly to make it into the secret show afterwards, I have no regrets. I'd change nothing, especially the amazing people who made queueing for 13 hours seem like something I'd quite like to do every weekend. Nothing can change this perfect night.