Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Pilgrimage to Salford: Brandon Flowers Live in Manchester

My technoloy malfunctioned at Euston. One minute I was about to type in my reference number to collect my train ticket at the self-service machine, the next, said machine was rejecting my card and the email containing the precious reference had magically disappeated from my phone. Cue 3 minutes of panic before email was located and I managed to race to my train exactly seven minutes before departure. Hey, for me that's cutting it fine. I'd love to say that the two hour train ride provided optimal time for the perfect snooze, but nope. The countryside flashed by in a haze of exhaustion and The Shins on my iPod, but I never did drift off. Thank goodness for high-speed Virgin trains, because before I knew it, we'd arrived in Manchester, and I was being collected by the lovely Megan (in her lovely car). Isn't it strange and fantastic to come such a long way - literally and figuratively - with someone? All the way from Beit House's third floor in 2008, to Manchester, 2015.

Megan and Gordon live a wonderful, happy and real life in Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter. It's something I aspire to when I'm older - a kitchen full of food, a spareroom full of stuff. Sometimes I think that moving around constantly since I was 17 has left me with few possessions. But for now, I was here to make memories. We took a drive to Tatton Park for a picnic in the sun - the first time I'd felt actual heat in the sun since I'd moved to England. Not just warmth, actual burning heat on my bare arms. It was fantastic. The evening was occupied by a shopping trip to Chester Oaks and on the way back, we were astouned to realise it was after 9pm, though the sun was still shining. I excused myself to bed around midnight, and managed a good eight hours. I'd need it for Sunday's gig. 

By 10.30am, messages from Jess about the length of the queue started to get me excited, and I dashed out of Megan's car outside the venue to hug people and squeal while she drove around the block. I promised to be back around 5pm. And so we hit the science musuem, completely underestimating the size of the place and only getting through about a third of it before we headed home for fantastic home-made burgers (on the braaaaaii). And then it was queue time. Being the genius that I am, I neglected to save a spot for myself in the queue before joining Jess, Ryan and Charlotte for a chat until just before gates. The excitement is palpable - Bernard Sumner of New Order is here. By the time I did get my own spot in queue, I was far too late for barrier, but did make it to a second row position. Not bad.

Shout out to the girl next to me who looked bored the whole way, even through Brightside. Shoutout to the guy on the other side of me who literally only came for Brightside. Anyway. Nothing could ruin this. Nothing could ruin the appearance of Jilted Lovers and Broken freaking Hearts. I believe I may have out-fangirled myself. As with the past two shows, Magdalena comes with an intro chat, though this time it's slightly changed up: "There are all sorts of pilgrimages, some people make musical pilgrimages... I come here, to Salford - I think I wanna be blessed by Morrissey!" Brandon says, trying to sound ironic, but betrayed by his nervous giggle. It's Okay, B, we all know your Morrissey stories. And then Bernard Sumner appears, and Brandon may well have forgotten that Moz even exists. The feeling of playing live with one's idol is surely one of the greatest experiences of one's life.

And so I fall out of the crowd, and make my way to the stage door to bid farewell to the Victims. As I walked into Megan's front door, Twitter told me that Brandon had done an acoustic encore on a balcony outside the venue just after I'd left. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Just being there had been enough for me. 

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