This is Part 2 of my trip away for the Bank Holiday weekend, which included front row VIP tickets to Caro Emerald‘s 2017 UK “Emerald Island” tour.
So without further ado, here’s what happened next.
Having got a “dead man’s shoes” parking spot, it was a short walk to the Regent Theatre which, having been built in 1929, doesn’t have its own car park.
We arrived with barely minutes to spare, which meant that I didn’t have time to get a photo of the front of the Regent with any Caro advertising (which I regret), and checked in. We were given a complimentary umbrella each, our VIP pass, and ushered into the “VIP area” (which was actually just the bar behind the stalls), to wait for Caro. Whilst there we were offered either a complimentary glass of fizz or a glass of orange juice. Since I’ve been teetotal for the past 3 months now, I chose the orange juice.
The VIP hostess called for some quiet and explained what would happen next. Caro would shortly come out with two band members and would sing one acoustic song for us. We would then form a queue and Caro would sign one item for us, and we would have one photo with her which would be taken by the hostess. No other photos would be allowed. If we were a couple, and one of us was the bigger Caro fan, then it would be allowable for one person to use their photo to have their partner in it too, but not two individual photos plus a group photo. She also told us that when Caro came out she might ask us which song she should sing, but wouldn’t sing one that she was going to perform in the concert.
At around 6.15pm or so, Caro came out along with her guitarist Wieger Hoogendorp, and her bass player Jeroen Vierdag. I was immediately struck by how much shorter she looked in real life, and also how much squarer her jawline is. She spoke to us very briefly, then invited us to choose a song, and decided to sing Coming Back as a Man. Before she started, she made some comment about probably forgetting the words which I thought odd (but more on that later).
The song was lovely, but over all too soon. The two band members left, and we then queued up for the signing and photos.
Claire and I hadn’t bought any merchandise, and I had forgotten to bring either of my Caro Emerald CDs with me, so we thought we might get our VIP passes signed. But then I noticed that the guy in front of us had his ticket in his hand, and I thought that looked like a good idea so we got ours out too.
When we had checked in we had been asked for our first names and they had been written on a Post-It note, and as we got nearer to Caro we were asked for the item that we wanted to be signed plus our Post-It note. It was like a production line – each person’s item and Post-It note would be carried forward to Caro who would sign it in between photos, and then they got it back after the photo, so you didn’t actually get to talk to her or ask for her to write anything specific.
Claire and I had already decided that I’d go up first and then she would join me for a group photo. I blinked with the flash for the first photo, but fortunately the hostess was checking each photo for exactly that and took another. Then Claire joined me and the hostess took a group photo. I blinked again, so she took another.
We were then ushered away and got our signed tickets back.
Then Caro was gone and we were ushered back into the lobby whilst the bar area was prepared.
After a while we were let back into the bar area, but the door to the stalls was closed with an usher barring entrance. I got talking to him, initially to ask that he didn’t rip the stubs off our signed tickets which he promised not to do, saying that he wouldn’t dream of doing so now that they were signed.
I ended up chatting to him for a while, as it turned out that he was originally from my neck of the woods and we had some places in common. He also told us that the last time Caro had been here several years ago, she’d been pregnant and it was nice to finally have her back.
Eventually we were allowed in and made our way to our seats at just after 7pm. We were right on the very front row, and to be honest it was a little too close as we were below the level of the stage looking up.
Whilst we were sitting waiting, some people were talking to the couple to our right, and mentioned that Caro wasn’t due on until 8.30pm and the support act would be on first, and they immediately started moaning about this. Saying things like “Who does she think she is? Lady Gaga?”. Claire and I thought this rather odd – you expect a support act at a concert don’t you?
After a while the support act came on, and the couple to our right talked through the whole of it, sometimes quite loudly. I know that they weren’t there to see the support act necessarily, but I thought it rather rude. But I figured that they would at least be quiet for Caro.
The support act consisted of Irit Dekel from Tel-Aviv, an accordion player from Finland, and an acoustic guitar player from London, so it was a little eclectic. The music wasn’t really to my taste, but it was ok.
After an intermission, Caro finally came on stage, and I immediately recalled what the usher had said about her being pregnant the last time she was here, because from the angle I was at, and the figure-hugging dress she had on, it was clear that Caro was heavily pregnant again. I guess that in the Meet & Greet that I hadn’t got a good look at her then or I would have noticed earlier.
Caro was brilliant, and her band were amazing – every one of them was a multi-instrumentalist, frequently changing instruments, and musically they were just so tight it was astounding. They were absolutely fantastic. The keyboard player was an especially live wire, and at one point was out in front of his main keyboards playing an odd carbon-fibre mini keyboard similar to a Keytar, but instead of a neck it had a flexible tube that he blew into, kind of like a modern version of the Melodica.
Caro changed outfits several times, although if you looked closely you could see that she actually had the same figure-hugging dress on the whole time and was merely changing her bolero-style tops each time, and changing her accessories, jewellery, and having her make-up touched up, etc.
The effect was of a different outfit though.
Astonishingly the couple next to us continued to talk through it all! At one point during a quiet guitar solo interlude as Caro was doing a costume change, one of them even loudly proclaimed “This bit is boring!”, which is the kind of thing a child might say. In fact, it wasn’t until later that I began to put the pieces together, what with that, them occasionally bickering (with one hotly denying that she was doing anything wrong, presumably to the other one suggesting she pipe down a bit), clapping along loudly at inappropriate times (and out of time too, much to Claire’s annoyance as she is a musician), that I realised that perhaps one of them had some kind of spectrum disorder. That would certainly explain things.
Towards the end of her set, Caro sung some new songs from her new EP and one of the lyrics was about probably forgetting the words, and I remember the odd comment Caro had made in the Meet & Greet and realised it was a rehearsed reference to this song.
Our moany couple then moaned that they didn’t like new songs and wanted old songs, FFS.
She then encouraged people to get up and dance, which they did, with some people coming right down to the stage. Our moany couple immediately got up and started dancing, trying to get handshakes with the band. They were an odd juxtaposition really – at times behaving like super-fans despite the moaning and talking. I just couldn’t work them out, but they were certainly disruptive.
We got to the obligatory “pretend it’s the end of the show” part, and Caro and the band left the stage, staying away just a little bit too long and rather milking it, and then were back for the encore.
Then at just gone 10pm it was all over, which was a little disappointing given that Caro had only started at 8.30pm, but it had been a fantastic concert nonetheless and I’d loved every minute of it.
Claire and I tried to take some selfies with the stage as a backdrop, but they didn’t really come out very well unfortunately. This one was the best of them, but it could have been taken anywhere really. 🙂
We headed back to the car and hit the road, getting home around midnight, and I went to bed shortly afterwards as it had been a long, long day.