Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Once I Was A Rookie

December 2013

My first Hanson tour. I was only going to go to one show - just the one, an easy trip to London, no big deal. I booked tickets for myself and for the friend who had got me into Hanson but who wasn’t a fan club member. She didn’t know any other fans. By then, I knew a few members of the UK & Ireland Street Team. I’ll be fine, I thought.

Things snowballed a little, and next thing I was boarding a plane to Scotland on a freezing December morning: I was en route to my first ever Hanson show, and the first one of six. Yes, six*.
(*a friend of mine argues that because two of those six shows had a members’ only ‘mini’ concert prior to the main event, the number of shows should actually be eight. However, I think that’s cheating so I stick to my figures.)

Already in the queue in Glasgow I met people I knew from the Street Team meet-ups and from social media; ‘Hey, I know you from Twitter!’, someone said to me that very day. As the tour progressed and fans travelled from one city to the next, greetings became warmer, and simple ‘hellos’ turned into heartfelt hugs and welcoming smiles. There’s nothing quite like concert camaraderie: we are soldiers, and each and every freezing cold pavement outside a venue is our battleground. By the time the tour took me to Italy, I felt like a war veteran who had earned her stripes.

December 2015

In four days, I’ll be travelling to Jamaica to see the band and spend a week of rock’n’roll with friends from all over the world. It’s my second Back To The Island to date, and I have a feeling that it will feel very much like a reunion. I know so many of the fans attending now, online and in person. Among them, there will be people with whom I may have nothing in common other than our shared love for the band, and there will be people I chat to every day. I know that the first day will be an endless stream of hellos and hugs, a medley of ‘how was your flight?’ and ‘what’s the wifi like?’. Someone at some point will say ‘We’re going to dinner, wanna come?’

That’s the thing about BTTI - it’s a massive love-in. Even if you’ve only met someone once before, or if you barely recognise their face from a grainy avatar on HNET, on that tropical beach they are your friends. It doesn’t even matter if they’re not in your ‘group’: you are there together to share this incredible experience and boy, are you glad to see them. It’s an odd combination of the alien and the familiar, the logical and the incongruous, the slightly out-of-bodyish experience of finding yourself in a Caribbean resort surrounded by people you once met in the queue outside a venue in Birmingham. Trust me: there’s something truly comforting in bumping into a friend from Israel in the lobby of a Mexican all-inclusive.

Only two years have passed since my first (and so far only) Hanson tour, but a lot happened in between. I can’t help thinking I was such a rookie back then: how I worried so much about, well, everything. But I was lucky: I had a friend who took me under her wing and showed me the ropes, or else I might not have survived the line drama, the freezing mornings and the inevitable downs of when you haven’t eaten for hours and someone behind you is trying to push in. And as I count down to the days to my flight to Jamaica, I am conscious that it’s thanks to people like her, and a few others, that I have the courage and the confidence to travel to the other side of the world for a band. Thank you, ladies, for helping me graduate!

So my fellow fans, concert combatants, sidewalk soldiers, pack your bags and drive, because the sunny day has come. If you see me, even if we haven’t met in person before, make sure you come and say hello. It could be the best of times.

'Back To The Island' is a 4 day destination concert event run by Hanson in conjuction with Island Gigs. All information can be found here.


  1. It's 8 shows !! Haha ...This is most definitely like our sorority! It's so exciting to think in a few days will all be in the same place having a drink and listening to our fav band !