Beyoncé Gisselle Knowles-Carter, even the full name oozes show business sex appeal. This is the exact phrase I used when partaking in some twitter banter with my colleagues Priyam and Imogen at Microsoft. There were 48 sleeps to go until the Mrs Carter Show World Tour starring Beyoncé would be ending its six day run at the O2, Greenwich Peninsular, London. We would be there along with almost twenty thousand others.
Let me first underline my disappointment that I was not attending this concert with my dearest colleague Harps. He is probably the biggest Beyoncé fan I know but he had not been able to secure tickets. In fact, his plans for the entire Bank Holiday weekend were up in the air. Not only was it is birthday weekend (28 years young now?) but it was also his last day with the company. Talk about planning your exit!
My own plans were a logistic nightmare to resolve. I was going to be over three hundred miles on a boys weekend in Newcastle. I could not rely on them driving me back to Reading in time for the evening show, (plus I would still need to get myself from Reading to the other side of London) so had booked a flight back. With hindsight, it probably would have made sense to book the flight up there, as we had a catalogue of issues which ended with me having to book a last minute train instead.
I got up early on Sunday morning, got ready and headed out the hotel at 8am sharp. In the early hours of Sunday morning, security had been called to Pav and Ben’s room due to noise and the boys told to go to sleep. I had sneaked off to bed a few minutes before the reprimand and saved myself the embarrassment although with all the hotel rooms booked under my name I perhaps should have been worried. I headed back to the station and got the Metro. I bought a ticket which cost about three pounds and worked out my route to Newcastle International Airport. The tube in the North East was relatively busy for a Sunday morning with people heading to work around the city. As I made my way out into the suburbs and beyond, the number of passengers tailed off with just a few of us left for the final stop at the terminal. I made my way to the check-in kiosk and put in my credit card to verify my identification. It was at this point my Barclaycard was eaten by the machine. In a mild panic, I headed to the information desk to a helpful chap to explain what had happened. It was only then I realised why my card had been eaten by the kiosk. In my haste to make this booking, I had made a minor typo on my surname, “Tegal” instead of “Tegala”. Was this going to cause a problem on a domestic flight? Thankfully the airport employee went to check and it was not going to cause any problems whatsoever. He retrieved my card for me and waited to ensure I printed my boarding pass before wishing me a safe flight back to London. I now had plenty of time to kill before my flight. I wanted to get something to eat first of all before killing time listening to music and using my tablet. Priyam had a countdown running on her iPhone 5 and she had sent me a screenshot of the image, which I promptly uploaded to FlickR and created a quick post onto my blog. Probably the ideal moment to have used Tumblr for such an update. (I joined the service towards the end of the month)
Now I had several hours to kill before my flight, so decided to make use of my tablet as much as possible. I read the news, caught up on some blogs, checked my social media and was listening to my mp3 player at the same time. While I had some breakfast and a extra large mug of tea, Beyoncé’s Sweet Dreams came on either the radio or internal PA system. In some nine hours time we would be watching the superstar before a sold out crowd. Until then I had quite a long journey via plane, train and tube to the venue.
My flight was less than an hour but taking into account boarding and disembarking and taxiing to and from the terminals, as well as being stacked to land over Heathrow it was perhaps nearer to two hours in total travel time. I had to wait several minutes for my luggage to arrive at the carousel. I had opted to put it in the hold to make life easier while around Newcastle airport and not having a bag to worry about or carry around. I was then making my second trip by train. I caught the Heathrow Express to Terminal Four and from here got the slower Heathrow Connect to London Paddington. An American got onto the train near me and was asking me why it was so busy on a Sunday afternoon. I explained to him that it was a Bank Holiday Weekend and we had an extra day off (Monday). He nodded and sat down, busy with his smartphone checking up on work or perhaps his weekend plans.
Once at Paddington, I had to wait for Michelle, whom had caught the slow train from Slough. Once she arrived, we would make our way to our hotel in Strafford before grabbing a quick bite to eat in Westfield and heading straight over to the O2. We got there early because, as usual I was over eager. To the point I accidentally joined the VIP security queue at the entrance only to be directed by the security guard to the next queue for standard ticket holders. We made our way up the escalators, got a drink and headed for our seats. The guy at the snack kiosk had informed us that Beyoncé appears around 8pm and James somebody was the support act. We took our seats and waited for our friends to arrive.
Priyam with her twin brother Dipen, fellow MS employee Imogen and Priyam’s friend Kavita arrived casually just before 8pm. They had been for food at one of the restaurants in the complex and planned to head back into the West End after the show.
What can I say? This was an awesome show. Beyoncé was full of so much energy, passion, enthusiasm and gave such a wonderful performance, I am lost for words on how to actually describe the experience. The whole show surpassed my expectations. The constant costume changes, the high tempo dance moves, the band playing at full pelt, a group of dancers at the top of their game. A personal highlight was when Beyoncé came across to the middle of the audience to perform Love On Top – one of my favourite songs.
There is always the anti climax as you leave the O2 at the end of a gig. The realisation that the event you had waited for several months for, was over and you need something new to look forward to. I should have gone with Priyam and friends to Leicester Square where they bumped into Beyoncé’s backing dancers out for the evening to celebrate their final date in London. Michelle and I had headed back to our hotel but had to stop off at the only fast food restaurant open in East London for a bite to eat. I was surprised at the amount of people around at 1am in the morning, including a group of guys roller blading in the old shopping centre. With the security guard doing nothing to even acknowledge their existence.