If you’ve read my blog for a long time then you’ll know that Jessie J is my all-time favourite singer, she’s helped me through a lot over the years and I’ve seen her live a few times.
Back in May, Jessie released her 4th album titled ‘R.O.S.E’, the album is made up of four EP’s as each letter of R.O.S.E has a different meaning: Realisations, Obsessions, Sex and Empowerment. It’s been out a few months now and I still don’t have a favourite EP, they all stand out for different reasons.
Following the release of the album, Jessie announced that she would be doing a tour later on in the year, so I obviously wanted to go, I’d be lying if I said that I looked at the dates/venues as soon as she posted about it on social media.
One of my closest friends, Jess, is also a huge Jessie fan, we actually met on Twitter through Jessie so as soon as the dates were announced we were in touch with each other straight away and tried to work out which dates (yes more than one) we would be going to.
As I have a job now and I’m *a responsible adult* it was a bit of a task to work out which concerts we could attend, and which would be the easiest for us to travel to.
As there were none on weekends that were close to either of us, we eventually decided that we would get tickets for her show at Manchester Academy on 16th November 2018.
I looked beforehand on the Manchester Academy website to find their accessibility information, it was very easy to find. The website stated that you needed to buy a general admission ticket and then make them aware of your access requirements and whether you needed a companion ticket which is what I did.
I was actually at work when the tickets went on sale, so my friend very kindly bought one general admission ticket for us and once I had finished work, I called the venue to make them aware of this and tell them that I needed a companion ticket. They added me to their access database for any future bookings and then sent me a confirmation email to confirm this.
Because one concert wasn’t enough, we decided to book tickets for Jessie’s show at O2 Academy Leeds as well. I’ve been to that venue in the past, so it was just a case of me calling and booking tickets. I will certainly write a blog post on that show as well.
But back to the Manchester concert….
We booked a hotel back in October, November soon came around and we sorted out our travel.
A few days before the gig, we booked our train tickets, I booked mine and my passenger assistance.
The day of the concert soon arrived, I spent the morning getting ready before getting the train to Manchester. I was actually meeting Jess in Sheffield and then we were going to Manchester together from there.
Despite pre-booking passenger assistance, it still didn’t go to plan which wasn’t a great start to the day.
We eventually made it to Manchester, made our way to our hotel and checked in. Once we had sorted our things out, we went to get some food.
Time quickly passed, and it was soon time for us to make our way to the venue. We walked to the venue as it wasn’t too far and left ourselves plenty of time to get there.
We arrived at the venue at around 5.45pm as we had to collect the companion ticket and the box office was supposed to open at 6pm. There were a few other people waiting as well. The box office opened a little while after 6pm, we queued to get our tickets, my friend told the member of staff that we were here to collect our companion ticket, he asked what name it was under, so we gave my name. He looked for the ticket and said that he couldn’t find it, and asked whether it was definitely under my name. We assured him that it was, but he still couldn’t find it. I explained that I had called and told the venue about my access requirements on the day that the tickets went on sale.
Panic set in. I suddenly felt very anxious.
He asked if I had my confirmation email so I got it up on my phone, after checking it, he sorted a companion ticket out for us.
I’m not sure if this is normal procedure but it was not fun. For a couple of minutes, I was starting to think that we wouldn’t be able to attend the show.
We were given our companion ticket and wristbands and told to queue until doors opened.
We started to get a bit cold as we had to queue for a while. Disabled people were supposed to be able to go inside 10-15 minutes before the doors opened for everyone else, this is something that I think is great about Academy venues, that way, you miss the mad rush. We seemed to go in a bit later, but it gave us enough time to enter before everyone else.
We showed our tickets/wristbands and got our bags searched before heading into the venue. Disabled people usually have to sit on the balcony, however no one said to us that we had to do that, and I really wanted to experience standing at the barrier, right at the very front. As I usually get disabled access tickets, I’ve never ever had that experience. I’ve always wanted to experience a concert at the very front, especially for my all-time favourite artist. I really wish that disabled fans had more choice in whether they stand or sit at a gig, as we want those experiences like everyone else.
We decided to make our way to the main standing area, if someone told us to go on the balcony that would have been fine, but we wanted to see. We made our way through, a member of staff asked if we were ok and we walked up to the barrier. As we were walking up to the barrier, Jess said to me “guess where we are” and then put my hand on the barrier. Honestly, we both started shaking (I did anyway) as we were right at the centre and Jessie J would be standing right in front of us! Her microphone stand was directly in front of us.
We had a few minutes to take it all in before the crowd made their way into the venue. It was great that we could just walk straight to the front, there has to be some perks of being blind right?
Jessie’s support act came on at about 7:45, he was called Sincerely Wilson. I thought he had a really nice voice, he was really unique, he was really good at playing the guitar as well. He mainly played his own original material but did a couple of covers as well. Apparently Jessie came across him on Instagram and asked him to support her herself, which I thought was lovely.
Once Sincerely Wilson had gone off, it was matter of time to wait for Jessie.
Jessie came on stage at around 8.50pm. She opened with her song ‘Oh Lord’ which is from her latest album. The show was split into sections, representing each letter of R.O.S.E, before each section there was an interlude and some speech about her life, music, career and album. I loved this part, as it reminded me of the first time that I saw Jessie live on her Alive tour back in 2013, I’d wanted to see her live and that was her first arena tour, so it was really special.
Splitting this show into each section made you feel like you were going on a journey with her, from her doubts of carrying on with music, to where she is now. It really made me think about how far she’s come, from uploading videos onto YouTube in her bedroom, to selling out shows.
She performed a range of songs, from some of her well-known hits such as Do It Like A Dude, Flashlight, Price Tag, Domino and Bang Bang, tracks from her previous albums and of course songs from her latest album such as Think About That, Dopamine, Real Deal, Not My Ex, Queen, Dangerous, play, Glory and I Believe in Love.
Here is a video of Jessie singing ‘I Believe In Love’:
She switched some of the songs up a bit including covering part of ‘You Don’t Own Me’ during Do It Like A Dude and also intertwining Glory/Bang Bang.
Photo credit: Jessica Goodwin Photography
She performed some of my all-time favourite songs including Who You Are, Easy On Me and Masterpiece. These songs have really helped me and I did actually get emotional whilst she was performing them. The passion, energy and emotions that Jess puts into her performances is mesmerising, she’s a true talent. Her vocals are out of this world, she somehow gets even better every time I see her live. That was the 6th show of Jessie’s that I’d been to and she never fails to amaze me. She’s always pushing to improve, and her hard work, dedication and determination really shines through.
One of the things that I love the most about going to one of her concerts is her speeches, I can guarantee that you will feel inspired and ready to conquer whatever life throws at you after hearing one of those, Jessie really does have a way with words.
She’s also hilarious and had us laughing on several occasions!
Being at the barrier during her set was a feeling that I can’t describe, I felt so included and felt like any other regular fan, not a disabled fan. Jessie was right in front of us and her energy and emotion radiated off the stage. Everyone was there just to have a good time, sing along and enjoy the show.
I have never been that close to the stage and I absolutely loved it! I think it made the show even more memorable for me, that gig was on another level for me. There’s something about the atmosphere when you’re standing at the very front, singing your heart out with one of your closest friends.
Jessie commented on how loud the crowd was, she didn’t think that anyone would beat the crowd at the concert in Bristol but she told us that we definitely beat them.
It’s such a special moment when the audience sings back the artist’s songs.
Photo credit: Jessica Goodwin Photography
Jessie ended the show by introducing her band and then ended the show by singing ‘Domino’ which was such a great song to end the set with, it’s safe to say that everyone was singing and dancing along. Jess and I left that show on a high!
Here is a video of Jessie performing Domino:
It took us a little while to get out of the venue, we had a look at merchandise on the way out, we didn’t get anything but I’m hopefully going to buy something at the Leeds show, if not then hopefully it’ll be online at some point in the near future.
Once outside, we decided to try and meet Jessie after the show. We did this last year when we saw her in Birmingham but didn’t have any luck, that was also the show that we didn’t get VIP tickets because we had disabled access tickets, you can read all about that experience in this post.
I have supported Jessie for 8 years and have never met her, it is something that I would love to happen and I would be beyond grateful for the opportunity. I have tried so many times, but it has never actually gone to plan, or I have been unable to purchase the VIP packages.
My friend Jess found where the tour bus was parked which was near another entrance, there were some other fans that had also had the same idea so there was quite a few of us waiting.
Jessie came out of the building at around 11:10pm and very kindly stopped to chat to fans and take pictures. There were some people in front of us, so we couldn’t get to the barrier to meet her and have our photo taken. The most annoying part was that fans that had met her, had a photo taken and got things signed didn’t actually move to give others a chance, instead they just stood there trying to get Jessie to come back and speak to them.
This is in no way representative of all fans, but a few spoiled it for others which is such a shame. Because of this, me and Jess didn’t meet Jessie. We were so close yet so far away at the same time!
I’m hoping that I will have the chance to meet her one day and thank her for everything that she’s helped me through over the years. Jessie made me realise that my disability isn’t a barrier in life, taught me to embrace it, be proud of who I am, and her music has helped me through some of the battles that I’ve faced over the years and continues to do so.
After she had gone, we made our way back to our hotel. We were both extremely upset that we didn’t have the chance of a lifetime but were still buzzing from the gig.
We spent the evening chatting, watching the videos that Jess had taken and just unwinding from such a hectic day. We even made an appearance on Jessie’s Instagram story!
The following day, we checked out of our hotel, went to have a wander around the Christmas market and got some food before getting the train back home.
Again, I had a rubbish experience with passenger assistance as there was no one to assist me at Sheffield station so Jess had to put me on the train, meaning that my destination station weren’t aware that I was on the train. After such a brilliant night, that really brought me back down to reality. I didn’t want that experience to spoil my experience of the concert as it’s not fair on me or my friend.
I had gone through a whole mix of emotions, from excitement, to genuine happiness, to frustration of not meeting my favourite singer and the ongoing issues with passenger assistance…just the average day of living with a visual impairment.
I am fully aware that this post is extremely long, but I just wanted to document my experiences for you all, I am so grateful that I experienced the concert in the way I did, I want other disabled fans to have that opportunity as well. Granted, being right at the front isn’t for everyone but I really wish we had more of a choice in experiences like that. For me, that experience made it even more memorable.
I am so so grateful to Jess for some brilliant memories, for getting us centre barrier at the gig, for never failing to make me laugh and for being such a fabulous friend. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to Jessie J for putting on such an amazing show, and for making her shows so inclusive. For her, it’s all about the music, the atmosphere and she wants everyone to have a good time and that’s clear to see. There’s no pyrotechnics and nothing too visual, for me as a blind fan, that really makes a show stand out.
I hoped you have enjoyed hearing about my experiences…bring on the show in Leeds!
Have you had a similar experience? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Also, let me know what your favourite song from R.O.S.E is, I’d love to know. If you haven’t bought it yet, then what are you waiting for? You won’t be disappointed!