That’s it. My life has peaked. Last weekend in Bedford was the best weekend ever! Lovely people, an awesome gig and seeing my hero. Warning, this might be a long one.
My Saturday morning begun at the unreasonable time of six o’clock. I got two trains from Coventry to Bedford where I met with one of my best mates at the station. The reason why we were sending the weekend in Bedford was for a rather fantastic Kaiser Chiefs gig. So we spent the day queueing at a very green Bedford Park with a bunch of other fans we knew well but it didn’t go without any drama.
We were rained on. Hailed on. Thunderstorm-ed on. So I decided to ring the hotel (Park Inn) to ask if we could check in early. This caused the first chapter of drama…they didn’t have a “suitable” room. Something about a fire hazard or something even though I had booked the room for me and my pal with the relevant details.
Many others in the queue were offering to ring them up to give them a bollocking but fortunately they rang up with some good news saying that they did have a room but it would be different to the one I booked; I think it actually suited us better to be honest. So we walked from the queue to go and check in and more importantly to dry off. On the walk the weather became torrential and my friend’s umbrella broke so we were pretty soaked through by the time we got there. We had to use the hairdryer in the room to dry our socks and shoes!
We then returned to Bedford Park with wet feet but thankfully the sun came out so we re-joined our pals in the queue.
Drama number two happened when the gates were about to open. Earlier on we were all put in one queue by a man who promised to let us in first because some people had been waiting since eight in the morning! This hadn’t been conveyed to the other members of staff causing arguments and upset. After queueing all day we weren’t going to be let in at the same time or maybe after people who had been waiting for ten minutes! Fortunately, in the nick of time, they decided to let us through first and we ran to the barrier. It was a long way away and we were all panting by the time we got there, beating the people from the other gates.
Soon I was stood at the front-middle of the barrier and I was ecstatic. That had never happened to me before. I have only been at barrier once before and that was a little gig in Birmingham at the beginning of the year where I was stood on the left hand side of the stage. This was completely different.
Then drama number three happened. Some dickhead pushed into my friend’s place on the barrier. A 6ft, middle-aged man who could’ve just stood behind us two 5ft 3 teenagers like his sour faced partner. But no. On principle he was not going to move even when we explained – at first nicely – so security had to get involved. He moved…eventually but again upset was caused and all this drama was starting to get to me.
So I went back to waiting, this time in silence, just taking in what was going on around me on the stage or with the security. We had already been waiting for about seven hours but we had a long time to wait until the act we were waiting for would come on but then the most extraordinary thing happened before the first act.
What would you do if you saw your hero walking towards you from the security gate? Vijay Mistry (Kaiser Chiefs’ drummer) showed his wristband to the security whilst I proclaimed “oh my god it’s Vijay!” He walked past about twenty-five waving people to see me to “get a better picture”. So that’s what we did and then he stayed for a small chat about the weather and his birthday which was the day before. It was incredibly surreal. I can’t actually really put into words how it felt. But I will tell you that I cried after he left and had to be comforted by several other fans because he just means so much to me.
The first act then came called Victoria. I can’t tell you much about them or their performance and that is no disrespect to them I was just totally spaced out because of what happened. I was just in utter disbelief but I can tell you that the frontman had a great voice, their tunes had good vibes and they were very animated. The crowd definitely enjoyed them.
Before the second act we saw Ricky Wilson at the left hand side of the stage who gave us a wave. That was really cool but then it was Bedford’s own, The Wholls who I thought were awesome and at this point I could enjoy the music a bit more. In fact, I’m going to have to research more about them. A proper band they were. If that makes sense?
Feeder were next. Their fans were very…rambunctious but I tell you what I thought they were really good. I recognised a few songs and had a little dance. Only to discover that Ricky Wilson was stood at the side of the stage (this time on the right) watching them too looking like he was having a good time and also watching us at the front dancing. I was like stop. It was really awkward! I can laugh about it now….saying that I was probably more embarrassing during their set.
In between Feeder and Kaiser Chiefs the security decided to have a bit of fun. One of them offered to give a tenner to another if he bounced the length of the stage on a tiny space hopper. And I’m talking tiny. It was hilarious! Poor guy got just over half way before chucking it into the crowd. No tenner for him. Good entertainment for us.
But then it was the moment we had all been waiting for. When the intro to Edwin Starr’s War came on we knew that they were about to come on and we were singing along and then eventually cheering when they did appear.
The set started with an old favourite – one of my favourites – Everyday I Love You Less And Less when during the intro, Rick was stood on the speakers in front of us warming us up like he does. They played a sixteen song set lasting ninety minutes including an encore and my favourite song Misery Company which I heard live for the first time! I love Whitey’s guitar solos, they’re just awesome.
It was a lot of fun, all of the guys were in a good mood and the atmosphere was just incredible. Even though there were thousands of people there it felt like a personal gig. I knew most of the front row giving it a good vibe and so did the band so I think they enjoyed it. We loved the interactions with Rick as we were jumping about like lunatics whilst singing every lyric. Maybe that was just me.
I did sing every word though…well apart from Still Waiting which like Rick I struggle with remembering the lyrics to that one even though it is one of my favourites of that album. It was hilarious when he fluffed the lyrics in the first verse and he grinned his way through it. Close enough.
During their set, a birthday cake was brought on to celebrate Vijay’s and a member of the crew’s birthday and the crowd sang to them before the candles were blown out. One thing I love about the Kaiser Chiefs is the real sense of togetherness. To them they are normal people who a
re on the same level as everyone else so bringing a member of their crew seemed totally normal. He also came on later to untangle Rick’s mic who then had a little dance with him. It was very funny.
I feel like I haven’t given the rest of the band much of a mention but they were all in fine form and looked to be having a good time. Simon (bassist) jumped about with his hair flapping, “danced” (I don’t know how to describe it) when the birthday cake was brought out and got tangled…somehow…in Rick’s mic stand and mic lead before walking off prior to the encore. Peanut (keyboard player) was bobbing his head like usual letting off some good vibes as well as taking loads of photos. Thankfully he didn’t post the one of me itching my nose. That could have been bad. Whitey (guitarist) was…being Whitey but he seemed – to me – more animated than I have seen him before but he did get a little annoyed when he was told to stop playing by Rick so he could hear us. Bless him.
There were some casualties during the night. Mainly both of Rick’s tambourines which broke at the handles after he kicked them up in the air. The first was during Ruby which he then threw to my friend in the crowd next to me which was a wonderful moment. The other was during Oh My God which he broke the exact same way as the first earning a sarcastic clap from me and a chuckle from him but he just ignored it and continued with the finale.
My friend wasn’t the only one to leave with a pretty awesome souvenir. At the end of the gig after doing a bow by his kit Vijay came to the front of the stage, which was about 6ft high and 7/8ft away from the crowd, with his sticks and pointed at me before chucking them my way.
In my mind I wasn’t thinking “oh my god this is awesome” I was thinking “I am rubbish at catching, what is he doing?” Fortunately, I caught one, the other bounced off my thumb which a pal caught and passed it to me. I wasn’t expecting it and I am very chuffed.
When we arrived by the barrier the grass was green and when we left it was no more than just mud and bottles which shows a good time. I left that gig with sore limbs, a big smile, a raspy voice, drumsticks and a set list.
My friend and I couldn’t sleep straight away, we were buzzing, eventually he nodded off and I was left to my thoughts and watching the video of seeing Vijay earlier in the day. I couldn’t…well can’t…get my head round it. I have so much admiration for him and he’s always been incredibly kind to me but Saturday made me realise that he cares. Finding out that someone cares at all is a wonderful feeling but finding out that the person that you look up to cares is something else. I don’t know if it will ever sink in.
When the Sunday came we spent a lot of time back in the park where rehearsals/sound checking was going on for the Proms that night but we just sat and listened. Chilled out in the Sunday talking about how unbelievable the day before had been. We experienced all emotions; happiness, anger, passion, upset, excitement, panic…but it was all worth it. It really was an emotional rollercoaster.
I was sad saying goodbye to my friend at the station because it told me that it was over. The weekend that had been in the works for months and all the money thrown into it had happened. We had laughed, cried, sung our hearts out and just talked. Not just about the Kaiser Chiefs and how happy they make us and what they have done but about so much more. On the three trains I took home I just sat and tried to let it all sink in. Everything had been worth it and my expectations – which were already high – had been exceeded.
Last night I cried. It was all just so overwhelming and I was pretty exhausted too. The weekend ended with likes from Peanut and Rick on Instagram which was a surprise but very much appreciated. It is always nice to be recognised.
Despite the drama I would repeat the weekend in a heartbeat and if any of the future gigs are half as good I would be happy. Very happy.
So thank you. If you are reading this and were involved with the weekend in any way then I really want to thank you for making it so special and for making me feel included. I love my KC family and I am looking forward to seeing them again.