PHOTOS: JON D BARKER
PHOTO EDIT: ZOE LONDON
WORDS: ZOE LONDON
TOP: DROP DEAD CLOTHING*
JEANS: RIVER ISLAND*
CREEPERS: OH MY LOVE LONDON*
SCRUNCHIE: AMERICAN APPAREL
LIPSTICK: MAC HEROINE
BEING THE FIRST TO STEP INTO THE BRAND NEW DRESSING ROOMS AT O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE, LONDON
It’s absolutely no secret, and no surprise to anyone that I love live music more than anything else in the world. You never get over the buzz of not only seeing, but hearing your favourite band right there in front of you, the crowd around you screaming, singing along, spilling beer on your feet. The first time you hear the rumble of thousands of people together clapping, stamping, singing – it stays with you your entire life. I’ve been an o2 Academy Venue Ambassador for a few months now, and the reason I agreed to it was because most of my life has been spent at their venues. One that will always stick in my mind with fond memories is the o2 Shepherds Bush Empire.
I’ve not really seen many gigs here in Shepherds Bush, but if you were a long time reader of The London Lipgloss before it turned into Zoe London, you’d remember my old pal Frank Turner. The strongest and most vivid memory i’ll take to the grave with me is being with Frank at his first ever sold out headline show in the UK, on the 29th October 2009. It was the height of his album Poetry of The Deed, and i’d come along to support the guys at the show and generally soak up the vibes. I arrived at the venue from about 2pm in the afternoon, so it was empty then, and I remembered the vivid feeling of seeing the venue usually full of life – being as quiet as a mouse.
I walked the backstage route to the stage when Frank was ready to play, and stood in the wings to watch them perform. I would dip every now and then into the crowd – back then I had an AAA pass so I could roam free, and I was happy doing so. I remember the old dressing rooms, they were in dire need of some love. I will never forget the entire experience for as long as I live, and even though I don’t get much of a chance to talk to or see Frank anymore, it’s one of the happiest memories I have.
So being invited back in 2014 was a total honour, and having access to the entire venue again to feel those same emotions, and to meet their brand new dressing rooms was excellent. They’ve been completely redone, and are now a thing of beauty. I had diet coke and a bag of blue m&ms waiting for me – my rider for the day – and the gorgeous Cher from MAC was on hand to do my makeup.
Standing on the stage didn’t phase me too much at first as Jon took some incredible outfit photos of me – what a setting! (Major props go to Jon, he did an amazing job. Go and follow him on twitter here.) But as I stood there, in the dead centre, staring out to all the rows and rows of seats in front of me, the extremity of the venue took hold of me and I suddenly felt incredibly emotional. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to stand on that stage, every night on tour, and make thousands of people’s dreams come true by playing your music. I can’t imagine the buzz of all the eyes on you, the heat of the lights, the music booming out behind you.
I’m lucky in that i’m close to a lot of bands, after years of being involved in the industry – and as i’ve always ever seen them from side stage or in the pit, you never really realise what it feels like. I can ask a band a million times over in an interview – and I usually do – “so how was the set? how was the festival? how does it feel to play this show?” but you don’t really know, until you get the chance to actually feel how they feel. I felt it that afternoon, and I totally get why blood, sweat and tears as well as endless coins of change are poured into musicians bands to get them going, I really get it now.
If you wanna learn more about the brand new dressing rooms as shown above, check out this incredible video of Mick Jones from The Clash – who played that same stage I stood on many times – talking about it here.
This is one of my all time favourite blog posts. I hope you like it too.
Venue Disclaimer: Please note that Shepherds Bush Empire would like to make it clear that the seating set up shown in these photographs will differ at every event and is not a venue guide.