> Only A Footstep Away: The Waiting Room Tour
The Date: Monday 30th May 2005
The Time: 11.00pm
The Venue: The Walkabout, Durham
The Price: £5
My ‘Dr Karl’ pilgrimage began a day
before the gig as I boarded a train and made my way cross
country to my friend’s house (which is considerably closer
to the venue than my own) where I was to stay for the next
two nights. After a much-needed sleep, we made our way into
Durham – picking up another friend on the way – where we were
to stay into the wee hours of the next day. We set about experiencing
the city’s café culture (read drank coffee and ate
too much cake) as soon as we arrived, and flittered away the
remaining hours in jewellery shops being enticed into handing
over our money in exchange for sparkly hair clips, earrings
and bracelets. Well, we had to pass the time somehow.
around 5.30 pm, we moved towards Walkabout and found that
there were already people waiting outside. Not many people,
but people nonetheless. So we joined the queue, planning on
getting the best seats in the house. It was almost 7pm when
we entered the building and realised that, in fact, there
were no seats in the house. So we decided to get some food
from the bar and found that, actually, they weren’t serving
food that evening. Disheartened, we set up camp on a table
– having seen the massive queue outside, we knew there were
going to be a lot of people inside the building very soon
and we’d be glad of a part of it we could call our own. Waiting
Room weren’t due on stage until 11pm so we were going to be
there a while.
restless, I tracked down the venue’s Media Rep, Debbie, who
led me in the direction of the band and allowed me a chat
with Chris Hawker and Tommy Rando, and I was suitably impressed
with their characters. They chatted to me freely about the
band, the tour and their hopes for the future. They also gave
me a Mars Bar, which was no small deal for me, hungry as I
was, and promised me a photo with Alan after the gig – I just
had to find Debbie when the gig was over. When the time came
to leave the boys, I was escorted back downstairs to rejoin
my friends and wait for the concert. From then, it seemed
that the DJ announced the imminent arrival of ‘Dr Karl’ every
an hour before the band were due out, we decided to make our
way into the ‘moshpit’ (which was full of hardcore fans who’d
either got there as early as we had and camped out right next
to the stage instead of lolling around on a table, or who’d
rolled in later on and pushed and shoved their way there)
but we realised quite quickly that it wasn’t the place for
us. We were thrown around and pushed and elbowed and glared
at – I can see where they were coming from as I expect I’d
have been pretty upset if I’d stood in the same place for
three hours in order to get a great view and someone breezed
in and tried to share it with me. So, we travelled back up
into the slightly less claustrophobic raised area and managed
to find some space behind a group of rowdy lads.
a cheer went up and I could only assume that Alan had been
spotted. Alas, seconds later, I laid eyes on the man himself
and I can honestly say that I hadn’t expected to be so starstruck!
He made his way down the stairs, through the crowd – all the
while surrounded by burly bouncers – and onto the stage, then
promptly broke into song. We were witnessing the somewhat
surreal sight of our beloved ‘Dr. Karl’ flanked by bandmates
Tommy and Chris, singing his heart out to such perennial classics
as Wonderwall, Brown Eyed Girl and 500 Miles.
love to say that we had a terrific view from where we were
and stayed there all night but, about three songs in, we were
on the move again – the stairs that Alan had walked down minutes
earlier were filling up with people clamouring to get a better
view and we trotted off to join them. The view from the stairs
was a million times better and it was from there that I got
some of my best photos. Plus, it didn’t smell as dodgy as
the gaggle of male Alan fans we’d found ourselves amongst
earlier (sorry, guys).
tracks covered that night were real sing-along, dance-along
favourites (not that there was much room for dancing), and
also included a couple of Waiting Room originals. We were
not disappointed. And the song that everybody went away singing
was the fantastically clever rendition of McFly’s Obviously,
with the words adapted to include reference to the women in
Alan’s onscreen life – Susan and Izzy. “….obviously, Susan’s
for me. How can I win? Izzy’s pulling me in. And I know I
always will be far too good for her.” Chants of “SU-SAN! SU-SAN!”
filled the room and I shouted so loud that my voice cracked.
It felt good to know that my choice of partner for Karl was
the same as everybody else’s!
clearly had his fair share of female admirers, as countless
pairs of knickers were thrown at him from the crowd. And you
could see that it certainly wasn't the first time this had
happened, as he casually picked them up and threw them towards
his bandmates. What did faze him ever so briefly was the pair
of bloomers that landed on stage as he sang. After holding
them up for all the crowd to see, he carefully hung them off
his microphone stand and went on with the show. What a pro!
members Chris and Tommy were in no way overshadowed by Alan
and took the opportunity to show off their vocal and instrumental
talents throughout the night. Having chatted to them earlier,
I felt a strange sense of pride seeing them up there giving
it their all.
the gig drew to a close, the moshpit emptied and a line began
to form for the ‘meet and greet’ part of the evening. Oblivious
to the fact that this was even going on, I skipped off to
find Debbie. After asking countless bar staff if they knew
where she was (they didn’t) and standing around for a good
twenty minutes, looking over with jealous eyes at my friends
who were now playing with helium-filled balloons, Debbie arrived
and told me to wait by the bouncers. I grabbed a friend and
we headed off towards one of the bouncers only to have him
shout at us to “GET BACK!” When I asked if he’d seen Debbie,
his response was “GET OUT!” so we, erm, got out – we thought
this was wise – and, with tears pricking in my eyes (I really
don’t take well to being shouted at), I found Chris and Tommy
“getting drinks thrown at them” by the bar staff. Not literally,
I hope. So they threw a vodka and lemonade my way and I was
a bit happier.
guys were obviously still coming down from the gig and they
told me they were tired, but they seemed very happy. As they
should be – they’d done great. After chatting for a couple
of minutes, Chris grabbed my hand and said to Tommy: “She’s
been really nice. Let’s go get her a picture with Alan” and
we moved towards the crowd. Unfortunately, we just weren’t
strong enough to push through and ended up back at the bar.
“Later” they said. However, the good thing about having to
return to the bar was that the band’s…we’ll call them entourage…had
gathered there also and I got chatting to a bloke called Stevie
and another whose name I really regret not catching. And,
bless them, they also decided they were going to drag me through
the crowds for a photo. And, this time, we were in! The crowd
must have died back a little as we found it much easier to
negotiate our way through. It felt great to just slip through,
with Stevie’s hand pointing at my head as he said “She’s with
us. Coming through. It’s alright – she’s with us.” and to
pass by the bouncer who’d shouted at me earlier on.
the cordoned off ‘meet and greet’ area, I surprised myself
with my calmness. Stevie and his friend assured me they were
about to wrap it up and go upstairs and I could follow to
get a picture, so I didn’t even bother to approach Alan –
I just gazed at him (mouth probably open) and took a couple
of shots of him signing autographs and posing with a miniature
Kieron Dyer (I think) figurine. I was looking right at Karl
Kennedy! True to their word, the organisers wrapped up the
meet and greet and I followed Alan, Stevie and a couple of
others back through the crowd – collecting Chris and Tommy
on the way – and headed upstairs to the same area I’d chatted
to the guys in earlier. The band lined up and I stepped forward
to take a picture, only to have my camera taken off me and
be told to get in shot. The result? Two photos of myself,
Alan, Chris, Tommy, Jen (Alan's wife who had travelled with
him throughout the tour) and a giant kangaroo. I treasure
them. Next, Alan posed alone with the kangaroo and either
really enjoyed the moment or did a terrific job of pretending
to. Then the time came for me to pose for another photo –
one of just Alan and I. As I attempted to switch my (Dad’s!
) camera on and Jen reached out to take it from me, I was
met with the horrible realisation that the batteries had gone
flat. How could I have let that happen?! Fortunately, Stevie
was on hand to take a picture of us and he took my e-mail
address so he could send it to me the following day. Phew!
I thanked Stevie for taking the picture and turned to Alan
to bombard him with thanks and praise for the gig. He was
visibly pleased to hear what I had to say, and it wasn’t until
then that I realised how good he looked. Between you and me,
I think he’s been working out! I lingered for as long as I
could, and some of the guys bought me time with that line
I love – “It’salright, she’s with us” - even after security
tried to lead me away (which makes me sound like I made more
of a nuisance of myself than I actually did! ) but eventually
the time came to leave. As I was walked back downstairs, I
shouted another word of thanks to Alan and had him look away
from his group and shout “Cheers” after me. How nice! I thanked
Debbie a million times as I was so happy and so grateful to
have had the opportunity to meet Alan and the band.
my favourite picture – the one of Alan and I together - around
to family, friends and colleagues (basically, anyone who shows
a tiny bit of interest has the picture thrust in their face)
since my return, I’ve been met with a whole range of comments;
from “He looks so different” to “He looks just the same” to
– and I love this one – “Is that your boyfriend?”
really am very lucky and will never, ever forget that night
in Durham. Roll on November!
by Billy, Claire, Jamie,
Karl, Lucy and Moe
The Date: Saturday 4th June 2005
The Time: 11.00pm
The Venue: Student Union, Portsmouth
The Price: N/A
of the PerfectBlend team descended on Portsmouth by plane,
train and automobile to witness Alan Fletcher, and his band
Waiting Room, in concert. This weekend had been eagerly anticipated ever since Alan
had been kind enough to give us his guest list places for
the Student Union event.
all met up on the afternoon of the gig, and after checking
into our hotel, sampled some of the delights of Portsmouth,
with local lad Jamie as our guide, before returning to the
hotel to get ready for the night ahead.
walked past the Union about an hour before we planned to enter
and saw a street-long queue. We figured we'd be okay, after
all, we were on Alan's elusive guest list. We went to Jamie's
"local", which was in actuality a 20 minute hike
away, had a shot and a few beers, and headed back to the Union...
only to find the queue had since doubled in length.
stricken, we asked a security guard if we could enter, as
we were, after all, on Alan's elusive guest list. His first
response was "Alan who?", followed by "what
guest list?". It wasn't looking good. After we told him
we were from PerfectBlend (don't you know who we are?!), and
after Lucy and Claire batted their eyelids, and after his
eyes had finished rolling to the back of his head, he agreed
to go and phone Alan to ask if we were, after all, on Alan's
elusive guest list.
minutes passed, and just as that sinking feeling began to
crawl out from our stomachs, and the students began whispering
and pointing and saying "wow, that Billy L is hot, I
thought that was just a myth", he re-appeared and let
us in. It turns out that we were, after all, on Alan's elusive
then, 2 hours before Alan was due on, people were lining up
by the stage trying to get prime position. We managed to stand
to the right of where we assumed Alan would appear, around
2 rows back, and spent the next couple of hours working our
way nearer the centre of the stage, and to the front of the
crowd, whilst laughing at the cheesy music the DJ was playing.
We also spent quite some time admiring the homemade t-shirts
of many of the guys in front of us, all proclaiming their
love for Dr Karl!
Alan arrived. The crowd surged and it we started to get crushed.
Whilst Jamie and Lucy braved it at the front, the rest of
the group dispersed to the sides of the stage, where it was
far more comfortable, and far less hot.
the songs played by the band were met with ecstatic cheers,
but nothing could top the cheer that went up when Alan sang
his now legendary version of Obviously. After finding out
that he was likely to sing this from Kate, we all ended up
with our phones in the air, giving those who couldn't come
to the gig a taste of what it sounded like.
band also played one of their own compositions, 'Just Like
Me', which went down equally as well as the covers that they
As Alan rounded up the gig with an acoustic version of "Livin'
on a Prayer", he announced that the crowd had been "spiggin'
awesome" before disappearing backstage. Beered up students
shuffled and pushed anxiously after promise from the DJ of
an encore, but it was not to be. Then, in a frantic push of
security and flyers, we were face to face with Alan Fletcher
as he pushed his way into the DJ booth!"Your
only way of guaranteeing meeting Dr. Karl is to buy a CD from
the DJ booth. £10 a time."
bought one between us (well, Lucy did), and took up our place
in the rowdy gaggle to get into the booth for our meeting.
went up and at first Alan held out his hand for the same handshake
he gave everyone, then I got to shout in his ear: "My
name's Jamie, I'm from The Perfect Blend."
Alan's arms shot out and he clutched me to him like I was
some long lost friend from the past. He yelled how pleased
he was I'd made it, then I explained that there were 5 others,
CD-less, behind me in the queue, and more importantly behind
the wall of bouncers.
problem. "This guy is from a website that is very important
to me," he told head honcho security man. "I want
you to let his friends through." I pointed out Mark first,
then Lucy, Karl, Claire and Billy; we were all through.
were each enveloped in a bear hug as we introduced ourselves.
Alan seemed genuinely pleased to see us, something that we'll
never forget! Most of the meeting was a blur, but we also
had a chat with his wife, Jennifer, before having a group
picture taken and leaving so the hordes behind could also
meet the man.
you're the wife," I blurted out to a somewhat surprised
Jennifer Hanson. Clearly not expecting anyone at the gig to
know or realise that she was Alan's real-life Susan, she chatted
briefly with myself and Claire, and indeed, I was so engrossed
in talking to Jennifer that I almost missed the all-important
Alan and Perfect Blend team group shot. Luckily, the cries
of the others yelling "Mark! Mark!" eventually sunk
in and I took my place in the photo.
it was over much too soon. There were still hordes of students
in the queue behind us, so we made our way out of the union
and back to the hotel, where we sat in the lobby, very civilised,
drinking tea and reminiscing about the night we'd just had.
took us on a tour of Portsmouth on Sunday morning, before
we had lunch and went our separate ways. We all agreed that
it had been a fantastic weekend, and can't wait until November
when we can do it all over again!
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