At some point in 2016, a text conversation went a little like this…
Wife: Little Mix are going on tour. Shall we take Lana for her birthday. It will be her first proper gig. She’d love it. They are playing Leeds. Do you want to go too?
Me: Yep. Sounds good. I’m sure she’ll love it. Yes, I’ll go too.
Several weeks later…
*signs on to internet banking*
Me: Err, Clare. Have you spend £505 on Little Mix tickets?
It seems that my wife felt that Lana’s first experience of a proper gig (festivals not withstanding) should be amazing. VIP tickets were therefore the order of the day. In Manchester. Sometimes it’s best not to argue. I may have shaken my head once or twice and muttered the odd expletive, but at the end of the day, it was all about these two. Particularly the taller one at the front, whose birthday it happened to be.
As Manchester is over a 2 hour journey away, it was essential to stay the night, so we picked the kids up early on their last day before half-term and headed off to Manchester. We arrived at the Premier Inn near the venue shortly before 6pm. We set off almost immediately to the arena failing to find anywhere obvious that would sell some food on the way.
At the venue the security was reassuringly tight, without any unnecessary delays. Upon entering we were directed towards the “VIP check in desk” *coughs*. We were all handed our “The Up Close VIP Package” goodie bag. This consisted of:
- Great seat in the first 15 floor rows / best tiered seats
- Exclusive VIP gift chosen by Little Mix
- VIP tour programme
- Exclusive VIP tote bag
- Commemorative VIP show ticket
- Collectable VIP laminate + lanyard
- VIP check in desk
Just a reminder that I had this VIP package too. This means, I got this goodie bag full of stuff or another word beginning with s. To labour the point slightly, we started the night with 4 programmes. Four. 4. I was hoping the VIP gift would be a t-shirt. The girls could have had mine. Instead it was headphones. 4 pairs of Little Mix headphones. We had just bought Lana a pair of headphones for her birthday. She has another pair now.
With the VIP gift not being a t-shirt, we headed to the merchandise stand and Lana spent some birthday money on a T, while Erin decided she would pre-spend some Christmas money on one. Oddly there was only a select few available in the kids sizes, but they found ones they liked anyway.
Anyway, stomachs were rumbling now. Food choice: Hot Dogs or…well, nothing. Hot Dogs it is then. Hot Dog and a pint – £9. With a soft drink – £7. £32 lighter we all ate our quite substantial, but ultimately unsatisfying Rollover Hot Dogs. The kids were hungry less than an hour later. Oddly there was no-one selling snacks in the arena, unless you joined the lengthy bar queue. A rare missed-opportunity to make some money.
We headed inside and took our front row seats. Erin was initially disappointed thinking she wouldn’t be able to see as the stage was quite high, but she realised that wouldn’t be an issue when the first support act came on.
Lina was first up. Inoffensive Europop with a pretty decent piano ballad to open her 4/5 song set. She was followed by Jessarae. Justin Bieber sung in the style of Ed Sheeran. Not my thing at all. The crowd didn’t respond that well either, despite having got behind Lina.
I was taken aback by the advertising throughout the pre-gig entertainment. Large screens at either side of the stage showed 4 or 5 music videos on rotation, with the artists and song title clearly displayed. Lina utilised the screens during her set to advertise her website. Effective, but not what I’m used to. Little Mix were prominently spruiking their new fragrance. Lana duly purchased this the following day with some more birthday money. Effective.
Little Mix took the stage shortly after 8.30pm and opened with Power. The kids love this song, however, Erin was clearly afraid of the plumes of fire jetting out of the stage. They were noisy and at our vantage point, very warm! It was impressive stuff. Lana loved it. Erin cried on my lap for most of the first song. She calmed after that, although was cautious for the 3 or 4 further tracks that utilised the fire jets.
Black Magic (the girls favourite) followed. There was something odd about the music for this with a thundering dance beat removing some of the poptastic class that the song usually has. Regardless, the kids lapped it up.
What followed was an impressive show. They utilised the full stage and the full venue. There was one big screen across the entire width of the stage. Throughout the show this showed a collection of crowd clips, backstage clips, video footage and live footage from the stage. I’ve not been to a gig with such powerful screens before. Top stuff.
Another of Lana’s favourites, F.U., followed from a platform rising from the stage. When asked by an old couple in the hotel lift the following day, what her favourite song on the night was, without skipping a beat, she said F.U. Oh, to be 9 and innocent. Bless her.
The first costume change came after F.U. and they made there way onto a metal gangway that had been lowered from the roof. They then performed a few songs from the back of the venue before making their way back to the stage.
I can’t really comment on the rest of the songs as, for me, they did blend a little. That said, the pace was quick, the performance was upbeat and the show was good. I found myself enjoying it throughout. I’m not going to go out and buy a Little Mix album (Lana has them all anyway), but it was good.
After a second costume change they did a few more tunes before a quick three song medley before leaving the stage. Lana was most impressed by being waved to by each member of the band at various point in the gig and there was also a brief a appearance on the big screen. Happy, birthday girl!
There was a final costume change before the encore and last song; Shout Out To My Ex.
The girls are unlikely to reach that kind of level of VIP-tastic immersion in the future, but they certainly enjoyed this one.