Where: London, 02 Arena
When: Saturday 4th May 2013
Why: Beyonce Knowles-Carter, The Mrs Carter Tour
Four laptops, Three days, Eighty Pounds, Ten weeks, Four tickets, Ten hours.
One. Unforgettable. Night Anyone that has met me or has looked at the most popular post on this site will know that me and Beyonce have had our differences. I am no Beyonce ‘Stan’ by a long shot and I can’t buy into the hedonistic fervour that has riddled her ‘Beyhive’ with hysteria for the last ten years. I watched her ‘Life is but a dream’ documentary with a raised eyebrow and my usual shot of cynicism. However, and this is a huge however something clicked within me when I was knocked unawares by the 2013 Superbowl performance. Beyonce’s performance was an absolute revelation; I finally succumbed to her overwhelming stage prowess. The fifteen mintute slice of perfection demonstrated the immense dedication that has gone into her career and was amazing from the first atmospheric chords of ‘Girls (Run the world)’ to the closing anthem ‘Halo’.
Suddenly a Beyonce flame had been ignited and my friends (who are certified Beyonce fiends) immediately hatched a master plan for getting our hands on tickets. This experience alone would call for serious dedication and unbridled perseverance. We set our alarms and each made sure we were glued to our laptops with a plethora of tabs open to bag the tickets at 9.30am. I can vividly remember trembling over my mac as I finally made it into the ‘Beyhive’ on Beyonce’s official site. In danger of heart palpitations I looked frantically down the list of dates for the London, England shows. I clicked. Nothing happened. I clicked again and finally refreshed the page. Before my eyes could focus every single date said SOLD OUT. I opened my tabs frantically whilst texting my friends to check on their progress. That heavy sinking feeling was a unanimous disappointment that swept throughout the beyhive (of which I had a tentative, reluctant position).
On the 23rd February 2013 over 3 million fans had flooded ticket sites to grab one of 250,000 seats at her UK venues. With some fans waiting 17 hours in queues at the arenas it was obvious that the gloves were off and desperate times called for desperate measures. A close friend of mine whose mum works for o2 was bombarded with thinly veiled pleas for a ticket. It is with regret that I have to admit that I sent a sickly text in the hope of her handing me the golden ticket. It truly was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque frenzy for tickets with celebrities and Olympic athletes alike missing out. Olympic Gold medalist Rebecca Adlington tweeted : ‘3 computers, refreshing like crazy but no Beyonce tickets! Hope anyone else trying has had more success!’ After two days of spending my mornings trembling over my laptop, biting my nails, I dragged myself to uni, dejected and miserable. I told my classmates how I just couldn’t secure tickets despite making a number of sordid propositions to questionable individuals. Understandably they blinked at me, awash with awkward silence and gently asked me to get a life. Seriously. Alas I gave up. As an undergraduate with a dissertation to complete and the tatters of a social life barely held together I decided to banish the Beyonce fog from my head for good until…
Through what can only be described as a miracle my best friend got his beautiful hands on four standing tickets, concluding our first hurdle to seeing Mrs Carter. For 10 long weeks we waited in anticipation. My truly dedicated friend Holly shut down all communication with the outside world for the week leading up to the concert. She resolutely refused to go online in case any detail was divulged to her about the tour. No Facebook, Twitter, Newspapers, Blogs all in the name of Beyonce.
I was ecstatic to be going to the tour but felt a mixed reaction to the frenzy surrounding it all. I’d been sucked into obsessing over a woman that I wasn’t even sure I liked much less adored. Even on the day of the show I hadn’t listened to the entire ‘4’ album and knew I wouldn’t be able to sing along to a few numbers. Beyonce fans that I knew understandably wanted to strangle me for my non-committal approach to the most sought after woman in the world. She’s talented, she’s beautiful but I always felt that there was something somewhat sinister lurking beneath the surface. Please refer to my Beyonce article for a further explanation. Having booked my ticket to London I arrived at my friends house on the morning of the concert at 9am. We had a quick breakfast and bundled into the car for the beginning of a very long day. Stopping off at Tescos for a morning supply of Doritos and biscuits, we arrived at the o2 and settled down at the freezing cold entrance to the arena. There were already around 50 people that had been there for hours. As a walked past teenage girls coloring in banners with rollers in their hair, I seriously questioned my sanity. They were all about 15 years old. What the hell was I doing here? While the rest of the queue pondered what sixth form would be like I fretted about my degree classification. For the first time in my life I felt hideously old. I also felt embarrassed that as a cultured, often intelligent young woman I had discarded my dignity to sit crossed legged on a duvet waiting for Beyonce. Taking it in turns to have lunch and stroll around the o2, the day passed much quicker than expected. 6.30pm finally arrived and we were asked to walk calmly towards the stage in the arena.
Walk? Walk? I have travelled 115 miles, waited in a queue for 8 and a half hours and you want me to walk? I had to suppress my urge to Usain Bolt through the arena and power bomb all the teens out of my way. After sharpening my elbows and assuming a squat like stance, I was ready to stave off any fans that even dreamt of squeezing in front of me.
Finally there, we waited another hour for the arena to fill up. Here’s where my cynicism of the Beyonce machine returns in full swing. I’ve been to a few arena shows in my time and understand the enterprising aspirations of any artist, however the level of extortion at Beyonce’s concert was eye watering. People that I can only describe as lobotomy survivors had paid thousands of pounds to be there, with rumours circulating that for £800 the singer would personally sing to you. Fans were encouraged to add £30 onto their standing ticket price to be let into the arena a full 90 seconds before anyone else. 90 @!#8*ing seconds!
A stroll over to the merchandise stand was awash with hilarious price tags too. A flimsy canvas bag featuring the staggering genius of a backwards capital B was priced at £25. A Versace-esque T-shirt featuring the singers face came in at £60 with the hoodies priced at £65. Considering how much time and effort every attendee had put into the show, affordable pricing would have been a lovely gesture. Between her support act (Luke James, google him, he’s going to be huge) the audience was immersed in the world of Beyonce endorsements with her peddling all of her wares just in case she hadn’t squeezed enough capitol out of her fans already. Her perfume advertisement (the one where her assistance got busy with litres of Baby oil) was followed by her Pepsi commercial which then lead seamlessly into her H&M campaign. Surrounded by her most devoted followers, I kept my mouth shut but secretly thought this woman is hilarious. I’ve never seen people shamelessly plug so much at a gig.
The concert was arguably the best two hours of my life (sad isn’t it?). I retract that last statement actually it was undiluted ecstasy, with the vibrations of compete happiness spiralling through the 23,000 fans. The energy and vibrancy of the entire show was relentless with every fan immersed in the fantasy of the Beyonce circus. I captured a few images with my iPhone and lots of videos to immortalise the experience.
Leaving the arena, there was a sense of relief that our Beyonce journey had come to such a beautiful and joyful end. There were laughs, tears (well abject sobbing to be honest) and a whole lot of dancing on my part. Still finding confetti in my hair the next day I felt like I had triumphed and demolished the Bey assault course. If you get the opportunity to see Beyonce please go. Not just because you will have an overwhelmingly incredible time, but because when you’re old and grey you’ll be able to say I saw one of the greatest female artists of all time at the height of her glorious, inspiring career. And that my friends makes it all worth it.