A few weeks ago my daughter Reya and I headed out of the sticks for a whirlwind visit to London. The main purpose of our trip was a gig at the Brixton O2 to see Tom O’Dell (my daughter is a huge fan and I’d bought her tickets back in the early summer on the day they were released) but we thought we’d make a couple of days of it by taking in a bit of shopping and sightseeing.
As we were travelling on a Sunday, and most trains seemed to be coaches anyway, we took the Megabus – a first for both of us. I have to say at just over £30 return for the two of us it was a real bargain and a pretty painless journey – we were in London just after 10. After dropping our bags off at the Brixton Premiere Inn and taking in a bit of the local atmosphere, we headed off to Oxford Street – a first for my daughter! As the shops didn’t open until noon we hung out like hipsters for a bit at Joe and the Juice – a new experience for us country bumpkins!
Its nearly 30 years since I lived in London and although many of the shops are different, the essence of Oxford Street hasn’t really changed much! After working our way along Reya’s hit list of “shops not in Norwich” and Selfridges Food Hall we found ourselves in Bond Street where we stumbled upon an exhibition of Bob Dylan’s art. Although I’m partial to playing Blood on the Tracks from time to time when making pizzas, I can’t say that I’ve ever been a fanatical Dylan fan and I had no idea that he also paints and draws. What we saw was quite bright and jolly but I won’t be shelling out the £32,000 for a set of his unmounted prints – I think I’ll stick to warbling along to Tangled up in Blue while kneading my dough!
After the exhibition we headed off to another of my old stomping grounds Convent Garden, where I promised to show Reya the offices where I used to work in Long Acre. Except that all the offices are now shops and Pitman Publishing, where I used to work, is now a Watch Hut! I must admit to getting a little excited to see a Lululemon just across from where my old offices used to be, but £80 for a pair of yoga leggings seemed a bit steep – sadly I’m not a yummy mummy in an LA studio but a middle aged mumsey creaking around a youth centre floor that smells of bleach!
After a rather splendid repast in The Ivy, where Reya ate the most expensive pudding on the menu, we headed back to Brixton to get in the queue early for the gig. This hanging around in the cold bit was the thing I was least looking forward to but Reya was pretty happy with our place in the queue when we arrived a hour an a half before the doors opened. However her hopes to be at the front within touching distance of the young Mr O’Dell were dashed when an O2 priority queue sprang up beside us. I have to say I had no idea about all this O2 priority lark (we are both with 3) and it was very galling to see gig goers “rock up” just 10 minutes before the start and get in before us. I was even more peeved when after being searched, security deemed my little Fuji X-T10 a professional camera purely because you can take the lens off and promptly confiscated it, giving me a cloakroom ticket to redeem it at the end of the night.
It took an eye wateringly expensive G&T to take the edge off my anger and for me to calm down enough to relax into the music and by the time of the second support act I was, as the young people would say, “pretty chill”. This second support was someone called Rag ‘n Bone Man and when this large, bearded tattooed man walked on the stage I had no idea at all what to expect. He stood for a bit in the stage lights with a guitar and when he opened his mouth the most the most amazing soul voice came out – he was utterly brilliant! Since then he has suddenly been in the limelight – appearing on the X Factor (I read about this as I do NOT watch the X factor) and has just won the Critics Choice Brit Award for 2017.
Finally it was time for the main event and the reason for our trip to appear on the stage. I pretty much knew how good Tom O’Dell is as a performer as Reya and I had seen him in Thetford Forest last year. He is a quite a shy performer and very focused on his piano. He also doesn’t go in for a lot banter (although he did call Trump the C word which got a huge response from the crowd!) but this time round he performed more songs away from his piano and even ventured out to get closer to his fans. Sadly without an 02 phone contract we were in the Wrong Crowd (boom boom!) for that moment – and stretch as she may Reya could not get to touch Tom! I have to say it was a brilliant gig, with an amazing 3 song encore finishing with Magnetised which sent the crowd wild – and finishing with a huge crescendo when the paper confetti exploded into the air.
From here on these are photos from my phone – sadly I missed the confetti explosion as it ran out of charge!