Boy George and Culture Club Life Tour

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Its all thanks to Clare Ollif, my sister in law, that I got the best seats in the house at the SSE Hydro for this amazing gig. To meet Boy George, my childhood idol and pin up had always been on my bucket list. My last attempt to try to meet him was to write to Jim’ll Fix It, but thank God my letter didn’t get answered as the consequences of that could have been horrendous!

My mum was going into hospital for a minor operation, and I needed to take her in on the same day that they tickets were on presale. Thanks to my wonderful sister in law who went online for me with all of my details, passwords etc, she managed to purchase 2 VIP tickets for middle front row for myself and Emilia, so the next few months were wracked with anticipation.

Why is it that usually when you plan for something or really want it too badly, it never happens? Well in this case, thankfully it did happen, although we did have a couple of near misses along the way!  I was owed a days overtime back off work, so I took the  Thursday off, and Emilia and I travelled down on the train to Glasgow.

Two minor hitches were that she had a really sore tummy, possibly due to wearing some tight jeans, so we had to buy her some really loose track pants and some paracetamol to try and settle things. Then, when we arrived at the hotel, I stumbled and fell out of the taxi! How embarrassing, and I was actually crying with pain and shock. I could have broken my hip or twisted my ankle, but thankfully I survived. The Holiday Inn was described as being 5 mins from Theatreland by car…well I can tell you it certainly was not! Especially in rush hour. More like 15, which made a hefty taxi bill whenever we needed one.

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The goody bag contents plus a scarf that I bought at the gig, and the set list which one of the roadies handed to me after the gig

After getting dressed up in our glad rags, we headed to the Hydro by underground from Central station.  On the tube we spotted fans everywhere mainly from what they were wearing and their age range. Once in the Hydro, we were asked to form an orderly queue for VIP, and were given goody bags which consisted of a tote bag, a signed programme, a set of badges and a cardboard mask of Boy George on a stick. We were so chuffed at this, it was a great start to the evening to get all these souvenirs each. We had taken a couple of 7 inch Karma Chameleon singles with us to get signed, and to our dismay, found that one of them was no longer in Emilia’s small handbag. It had either dropped out whilst in the queue, or someone had pocketed it. We had our suspicions who this might be, but could not prove anything.

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We then stood for the majority of Belinda Carlisle’s act in a queue to meet the band. I wan’t overly bothered, as I’ve seen Belinda a few times at Rewind. When we finally got through to see the band, I was overwhelmed with nerves and anticipation. How would we get our photos taken? Would they sign the single for us? Would we get individual or group photos? The photographer turned out to be a really nice assistant, who took my phone and took a photo firstly of me and the band and secondly of myself and Emilia with the band.

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Boy George is formidable! He is huge! Really tall, with a really big head. His make up was incredible. He said “Give me a hug my darling, lovely to meet you…” and I got a hug and a kiss on each cheek from him . WOW! The rest of the band were gorgeous too. Jon Moss was not on this tour, but I had the pleasure of getting a hug and kiss from Bassist Mikey Craig and Guitarist Roy Hay – such handsome chaps! Then Emilia walked up for her photo. “Oh look at you, you’re so cute, I love your style,” said George, and I have to say that was a huge compliment coming from him. She was dressed up to the nines, with her Stella McCartney military style jacket on, ripped jeans, gold glitter ankle boots and a genuine Philip Treacey hat. She had written him a letter and included a brooch that we had made him, and she also offered him her hat.

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“Oh no, you keep it my darling, my head is far too big and I’ve got loads of hats anyway. It looks great on you.”

The assistant asked if I wanted to be in the photo with Emilia, and I stood in between him and Roy Hay again, while George put his hands on Emilia’s shoulders. It was a great experience, and i still can’t believe I met them.

The rest of the night was amazing. We sat in the middle of the front row listening to hits both old and new. My favourites were Time (Clock of the Heart) and Miss Me Blind.  Seeing Time performed was a real treat and watching Roy and Mikey playing all those guitar snippets in the introduction was amazing.

Another real highlight of the evening was Roy Hay’s memorable guitar solo in Miss me Blind. It’s one of those guitar solos I always sing in my head, so to see him perform it live was such a special experience for me.

The backing singers were excellent too, as were the other musicians. My only regret is that my filming of the event was a bit shaky, as I wanted to dance all of the time, and also I think I must have placed my hand over the speaker as the sound is pretty dull in some of my recordings. I did take some amazing photos however, even with my old iphone 6 plus.

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Mikey Craig

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Gorgeous George… his voice has definitely stood the test of time

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George’s voice was smooth as silk and he gave a truly flawless performance. He is a seasoned professional and his integrity shone throughout the show. I hope to see him again one day, but if it never happens again at least I have the memories of this amazing gig and meeting one of the best bands on the planet.

Marc Almond’s Shadows and Reflections

Marc Almond is continuing with his prolific career with the launch of his latest album “Shadows and Reflections”. In recent interviews, Marc mentions his love of torch songs, and this collection certainly confirms that, with a mixture of hits from the 60s, from the well known to the more obscure, plus a couple of his own thrown in for good measure.

These songs really suit his voice, and are best played on vinyl to capture the mood of the era. Having bought the album, I waited to desperately purchase tickets for his gig at the Usher Hall, but unfortunately could not get as near the front as I had wished for.

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I booked into the Travelodge on Princes Street, and hastily got ready, before making my way to the Usher Hall. Shaun and Yvonne were both going to be there, but I hadn’t made any definite plans to meet up with them. I was there early, and got speaking to a lovely couple who had travelled all the way from Chester-le-Street to see him. I sat with them at the bar and had a few drinks, then finally I got a message from Shaun who had arrived.  He had managed to get a seat a bit closer than I had, but told me that Yvonne had got a seat right up at the front. I sat down and the Overture began, which was not unlike the score to a glamorous 60s movie.

Marc came on stage, looking very smart in a charcoal grey suit and cuban heeled boots, and started to get things going with “Shadows and Reflections”.  Following this was Billy Fury’s “I’m Lost Without You” and The Young Rascals’ “How Can I Be Sure?” More of the hits followed, “Blue on Blue”, “Not for Me,”  but the audience remained seated and very quiet. A couple of people came in late, and he muttered a few sarcastic comments their way, obviously annoyed at the disruption they had caused.  I tentatively filmed him singing a couple of songs, as although I was about 7 rows back, I worried that he might be annoyed or distracted if he saw me. I really wanted to get up and dance, or stand up and sway at the very least but it felt like it was never going to happen.

“Embers” was beautiful. The red and orange projections warmed the the stage and I felt that this was his best performance of the evening as it felt like he was truly singing from the heart.

“Child Star” was another joy to behold, and brought tears to my eyes and a shiver down my spine.

Finally, when that memorable trumpet intro to “Torch” sounded out,  another of Marc’s superfans, Gail, who was clad in a Cindy Ecstasy style blue sequinned dress got up to dance. Immediately everyone followed suit, and after “Torch”, Marc invited everyone to get out of their seats and dance everywhere. A crowd of people headed towards the stage, and I decided to do the same, where I met up with Shaun who had already made it to the front row.  He asked me if I wanted to try to get a selfie with Marc and I eagerly nodded. He said we’d need to leave half way though the last song, so I agreed. We danced to “Jackie“, “Hand over my heart“, and “Find me Somebody“, before slipping outside half way through “Say Hello…” I had even got so close to Marc that I handed him my fur hat but he just smiled and looked a bit puzzled before giving it back to me! I should have known better as his partner is a vegan!

Shaun and I slipped out of the Usher Hall and went round to the left hand side door, towards the back of the building. We could see a large van there waiting to load his equipment in. Looking into the side door, we saw Langy (Mark Langthorne) his handsome partner and manager talking to some of the crew. Next thing, we saw Marc heading towards the door wrapped in a grey blanket, and absolutely shivering.

“Marc, can we get a quick selfie please,” asked Shaun, who is a bit of a celebrity selfie expert himself.

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Marc agreed and I got the selfie that I had been dreaming of.Marc then ran off into the distance, and we couldn’t see where he went as a bus had blocked our view, but we were pretty certain he hd gone into a posh Sheraton hotel across the road.

We met up with Yvonne, and Gabi, and then headed across to the Sheraton hotel for cocktails in the hope that we might see him, but to no avail. It was a great night, we sat and gossiped about fans, music and Marc, and had excellent cocktails in the lounge. Yet another great night all in the name of Marc Almond.

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Marc Almond’s 60th Birthday bash

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After the gig in Perth, I joined the Marc Almond Fan page on Facebook was befriended by some lovely fans who I kept in touch with about events etc. The fan club were planning an alternative birthday party for Marc who was turning 60 on the 9th July. It was to be held in The Eden Bar in Birmingham in the heart of the gay village. I didn’t think I would be able to go, as it would mean travelling there alone, and I had no idea what I would be doing this summer. However, as luck would have it, my other half and I had decided to go to the Camperjam which was held in Weston Park, Shropshire, which was about 40 mins from Birmingham on the train. I decided that seeing as I was in the vicinity I would go, so I booked tickets and a room in a small hotel opposite the train station.  I got there early, and had a look around the amazing Bullring shopping centre which is joined on to the rail station. Ironically, the rose gold trainers which I had decided to wear (for comfort) gave me the most horrendous blisters on my heels, so I had to cover the wounds in plasters and opt for very high wedge heeled sandals, which were much more comfortable.

After having a delicious curry nearby, a really pleasant Asian taxi driver took me to the Eden bar. He looked puzzled at me when I gave him my destination, so I confided in him that I was a bit nervous going in, but it was a birthday party, to which he replied “I’m sorry Madam, but I cannot accompany you on this occasion!”

Once inside I got myself a cocktail and then messaged Shaun and Yvonne, two of Marc’s stalwart fans, and was introduced to others such as Lorraine and Lloyd, who looked every bit the celebrity in his gold glitter suit.

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Posing with Lloyd!

I had made some Cindy Ecstasy tote bags which I gave to some of the fans that I had met up with, much to their delight!

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We drank special Pink Flamingo cocktails and danced along to Marc’s music all night. Marc even sent us a live video as he could not be there, but thanked us all for throwing him a party anyway.  It was a great night, and it was good to actually meet some of the fans who I had spoken to on Facebook in real life.

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The lethal yet beautiful..Pink Flamingo Cocktail

When exiting the bar, I walked through to another lounge where a drag singer was performing. “Cheerio love, looks like she’s going home alone tonight!” she called out to me over the microphone, and I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I hailed a taxi at the door.

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Marc Almond – Hits and Pieces

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I was delighted to hear that he had decided to perform at Perth Concert Hall, which is only 15mins away, so was desperate to get tickets as soon as they came available. The tickets were coming on sale online, via telephone or you could buy them in person . I nipped down to the concert hall before work, and waited in anticipation until the doors were opened. At the ticket desk, I saw Lisa, an ex-student of mine, and I hurriedly asked her to get me the best tickets available, amidst phone calls coming in to the others on the desk making similar requests.  She got me two centre front row tickets, as I had decided to take my daughter with me (who was just 7 years old at the time).

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A few days before the gig, Emilia fractured her ankle on a trampoline, and had to wear a moonboot, but she still decided to brave the situation and came along with me.  We were in Glasgow the day before the gig, and saw some really cool rainbow roses for sale in Argyll Street, so we bought one to give to Marc and took it with us to the gig.

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Supporting act was The Flicks, a raunchy all girl band from London, who Emilia quite enjoyed.  Finally, the moment I had been waiting for , and Marc arrived on stage. We got an excellent view in the middle of the front row, and were treated to a mesmerising visual delight, not only from Marc but from the projections behind him.

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He sang a medley of old and more recent, Soft Cell classics such as Down in the Subway Torch and What through his more well known songs from his solo career such as Jackie, Tears Run Rings, Child Star, Something’s gotten hold of my heart and rounding off with his usual Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.

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Neal X (AKA NEAL WHITMORE) formerly of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, now frontman of The Montecristos also gave an outstanding performance on guitar. His hair still looks amazing after all these years.

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The enigmatic Mr Neal X

The audience were great, apart from a few well meaning crazy drunks who were sitting behind us and kept donking Emilia on the head with their inflatable flamingos, all in good spirit of course! I was dancing all night, but poor Emilia had to sit most of the time as her foot was hurting. She did throw the rose to Marc, but unfortunately he didn’t see it, and it got trampled on. She did get up and dance to the last song, Say Hello, and I captured some great footage of her which shows how close we were to Marc.

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At the end of the gig, I lifted her up towards the stage, but unfortunately her moonboot was so heavy that she couldn’t quite make it!Marc kneeled down and kissed her on the forehead, which was a lovely gesture, I just wish I could have taken a photo of it, but was too busy holding her up! It was a memorable evening, and having the best seats in the house made it seem as if Marc were singing directly to us, which made things even more special. I’m so pleased that we both went, and that she can always say that she met Marc Almond and got a kiss from him. I plan to take her to many more gigs of my favourite 80s musicians so that one day she will be able to look back and remember these amazing experiences. To watch the video, please rewind the red timeline on the video below, as otherwise you will be directly to annoying ads that have nothing to do with this!