Today’s post is another concert related post, I apologise if you don’t like these sorts of posts, but as a disabled fan I think it’s very important to share my experiences in order to raise awareness and hopefully promote better access for disabled people at concerts. At the end of the day, we deserve to have the same experiences as non-disabled fans.
If you follow me on social media or read my last post then you will know that I went to see Jessie J in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, in that post I also mentioned that I was going to her show in Leeds so I thought I would write a post on that show as well because although it was the same setlist, it was a different venue and the show did differ so therefore my experiences were slightly different, they were in no means bad at all.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all how much Jessie means to me!
I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences of going to these concerts, I help other disabled people, but not only that, I hope I highlight the importance of inclusion to venues, promoters and artists (I’m probably aiming way too high with that one) but you get my drift.
So, today’s post is about seeing Jessie J in Leeds as part of her ROSE Tour.
The show was at O2 Academy Leeds, I’d been to the venue before so had an idea of what to expect. One thing that I really like about Academy venues is that it’s really easy to book disabled access tickets.
Myself and my friend Jess decided a few days after the tickets had gone on sale that we wanted to go to another show as well as the Manchester show, so I called O2 Academy Leeds and booked the disabled access tickets without any hassle at all. It was a very easy process, I was able to book both my disabled access ticket and my friends companion ticket over the phone and it didn’t take long at all.
Soon after, I received a confirmation email and instructions on where to pick the tickets up from at the venue on the night of the show.
It was just a matter of waiting for the day of the gig to arrive.
We booked our travel a couple of days before the show, so we were all sorted and ready to go.
Monday 26 November soon came around, I was working that day so once I had finished work, my Mum kindly picked me up and dropped me off at the station where I was meeting my friend. Jess was staying at mine that evening so once we had met up, we got the train to Leeds.
We arrived in Leeds a few hours before the concert. We decided to go and get a hot chocolate as it was very cold, and you can’t beat the Christmas hot chocolates from Costa!
Once we had got that, we decided to go to the venue to check that we knew the way. It was a short walk and we found it easily. WE decided to wait around for a little while to see if we had any chance of meeting Jessie, but we didn’t have any luck unfortunately.
We decided to go and get some food before the show, we also bought some gloves as it was freezing!
Time quickly went by and it was soon time for us to head back to the venue for the show. We made our way back; Jess asked a member of security where the disabled access line was, and he very kindly took us to the front of the building where we had to wait.
We waited for a while before someone came outside and asked us if we had disabled access tickets which we did, they checked my name on the list and gave us our tickets.
We then were able to go inside, once we had entered a lady told us that someone would be down in a couple of minutes to take us up to the balcony. I asked if we were able to stand in the general admission standing area rather than being seated on the balcony. She said that she wasn’t sure so called a member of staff to ask and they said yes, so we made our way into that area. I did this at the Manchester show and had such a good time, it was a whole different experience for me, I felt so much more included in the show compared to being sat on the balcony. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being sat on the balcony and I am happy to do that, however the atmosphere is completely different when you are in the standing area, I don’t know why but it just feels different. Although I can’t see the stage, there is something about being so close to it that makes the experience like no other. I know that this isn’t for everyone, but I do think that we should have a choice whether disabled or not. The staff were very friendly and I’m so glad that they were so accommodating, experiences like that are the deciding factor whether I’ll return to a venue in the future or not. The member of staff didn’t question why we wanted to stand, she just let us do it which is brilliant. I did explain that I had stood at a gig before and despite having a disability, I was absolutely fine which she accepted.
Like I said in my previous post, I really do wish that disabled fans were given more opportunities when it comes to concerts because we want the same experiences as non-disabled fans.
We didn’t get to stand at the barrier like we did at the Manchester show as people who were on O2 had priority entry into the venue, however we did get third row which was brilliant, my friend Jess had a very good view. We were able to enter before everyone else which was great, so we managed to find a good spot to stand.
Jessie’s support act came on at about 7:45, it was Sincerely Wilson who we had seen at the Manchester show. I thought that he had improved this time and he sounded really good. He even changed his set a bit, performing a different cover and some songs that I don’t remember him performing at the Manchester show.
After Sincerely Wilson had finished his set, we had about 30 minutes to wait before Jessie came on stage. There was a really good atmosphere, so you could tell that it was going to be a good show.
Jessie came on stage at around 8:50 and opened with her song ‘Oh Lord’ which is taken from her album R.O.S.E. If you haven’t listened or bought the album yet, then I suggest that you do so!
As I said in my previous post, the show was split into four sections, representing each letter of R.O.S.E: Realisations, Obsessions, Sex and Empowerment. Jessie had a different outfit for each section and there was an interlude before each section. One thing that I did notice was that the interludes were much louder at the Leeds gig and you could hear the speeches a lot better, it was clear so I could take it all in which was great.
There were a couple of delays during the show which were completely out of Jessie’s control, however she handled it very well and was concerned for the people involved. She also said that she wasn’t going to cut the setlist unless they turned her microphone off as it wasn’t fair on us, she didn’t have to cut any of it, she just carried on as normal.
One of the things that I love about Jessie is how appreciative she is of her fans, she does not take anything for granted and is always thankful for the support of her fans. I have never known an artist interact with their fans so much at a concert as much as Jessie does, it’s so wonderful to watch. She genuinely cares about us and vice versa. At the Leeds show, she spoke to quite a few fans and acknowledged the fact that people had travelled to come and watch her show from places such as Italy, China and Brazil but also acknowledged her UK fans a lot as many of us have supported her from the beginning. She expressed her heart-felt thank you on several occasions throughout the show.
Photo credit: Jessica Goodwin Photography
I have said before that Jessie’s speeches give me motivation and determination whenever I need it most and the speeches at that gig were no exception, they really made me feel all of the emotions and made me very emotional!
She also reminisced about when she shaved her head in 2013, and the reasons why she did it. It was inspired by a fan that she met at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London back in 2013, Jessie asked the fan what she could do to help her, and thousands of other families get the appointments and medical treatment they so desperately need, the girl suggested that Jessie shaved her head so that’s what she did.
I remember watching her shave her head on live television back in 2013, and feeling truly inspired, I definitely chose the right singer to support.
She had met the same fan earlier on that day which I think is lovely and spoke about how she is one of the most inspiring people that she has ever met. Even years on, she still remembers the reasons for why she does what she does and appreciates her fans.
She performed a similar setlist to Manchester, however no Jessie gig is exactly the same, there’s always something different.
Earlier on this year Jessie was on a singing competition in China called ‘The Singer’ with other established artists, she was the only European artist to have ever been on the show and she won! Her performances on that show are some of her best live performances. She spoke a bit about the show during her set and decided at the very last minute that she wanted to do a cover of Purple Rain as she performed that song on The Singer, so that’s what she did. Let me tell you, it was absolutely beautiful. Being able to perform that song on the spot shows how talented she is, hats off to Jess and her band. I’m so glad that I got to witness her performing that as it was such a special moment.
Here is a video of her performing Purple Rain:
I don’t know how but I felt like her performances were even better than when myself and Jess attended the Manchester show just 10 days before that gig, she really is always trying to improve, her work ethic and love for what she does is inspiring.
Her vocals seem to get even better every time I see her live which blows my mind.
Photo credit: Jessica Goodwin Photography
It’s hard to choose a favourite performance but some of my favourite moments were her performances of Nobody’s Perfect, Easy On Me, Who You Are, Flashlight, Purple Rain, Dangerous, Play, Masterpiece and I Believe In Love…just basically the whole setlist.
I’ve put together some audio clips to give you an idea of what the show was like, I’d love it if you could check it out. You might want to grab a drink, it’s rather long but I couldn’t not include her speeches so it’s well worth a listen.
The crowd were fully into the show, us Yorkshire folk know how to have a good time. It’s lovely when the crowd sings back the songs with such enthusiasm and passion, that was definitely the case at the Leeds gig. It really showed in songs such as Who You are, Masterpiece, Price Tag and Domino.
Here is a video of Jessie singing Masterpiece:
A fan had been asking her if she could sing with her throughout the show so when she sang Price Tag she gave the fan and her friend the opportunity of a lifetime.
Although we didn’t get barrier, we were still very close to the stage and I loved that feeling, there’s nothing quite like it, especially as a disabled fan. I really do wish that disabled fans had that sort of opportunity more often, instead of us having to ask. I wish that we had more freedom and opportunities when it comes to accessing live music.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Jessie’s shows are honestly so inclusive. There’s nothing too visual and I felt like I could enjoy the show in the same way as everyone else. There’s no special effects, just Jessie on stage with her band, it’s all about the music.
I think one of the things that makes her shows so inclusive is the fact that it’s all about the music for Jessie, just like it is for us. As a blind fan, it’s all about the music for me which really means a lot to me that she has the same mentality. The fact that I can’t see the stage doesn’t matter at a Jessie concert, she wants fans to have a good time and take away whatever you need from the show.
Jessie ended the show by singing Domino, I’m pretty sure that everyone left the show bursting with energy, I know we did!
Once we were out of the venue, we decided to try and meet Jessie, however we found out that she had already left. Jess went on Twitter and saw that some fans had actually met her, we should have left during the final song like they did. I was well and truly gutted!
I’m hoping that I will get the chance to meet her one day, I’ve waited 8 years for that opportunity but never had any luck, so it’s surely got to happen one day, right?
We then made our way back to the train station, got a train back and my Mum and Dad very kindly picked us up from the station. Jess stayed at mine before heading home the following day when I went to work.
I really hope that you have enjoyed reading these two posts about seeing Jessie on her ROSE Tour as it has definitely been the most memorable tour for me. I don’t know why, but this tour has really stood out from the rest for me, I really feel like they have been the two most inclusive shows that I have ever been to.
I am so grateful that I have been able to go to two shows on the ROSE Tour and I know that I am very lucky, I would love for other disabled fans to have that opportunity as well because there really is no other feeling like being at a concert and seeing your favourite artist live.
I am really grateful to my friend Jess for some fab memories the last couple of weeks.
I’m beyond grateful to Jessie for putting on two outstanding shows, for making this tour so memorable and for giving us music that will last a lifetime. I am extremely thankful to her for making her shows so inclusive, she really has no idea. This may sound cliché, but she really has been my vision over the last 8 years and still is whenever I’m facing challenges because of my visual impairment, I really hope that I can thank her in person one day.
What’s your favourite concert that you’ve ever been to? I’d also love to know your favourite song from ROSE, let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.