Tennents Vital 2011

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Madame Oui and I were the lucky recipients of VIP tickets to the 2011 Tennents Vital concert at Ward Park, Bangor. Eminem was the star act, with support gigs from Jimmy Eat World, Kaiser Chiefs and others.

Unlike the vast majority of the 20-somethings students who were there from the start in the afternoon, we two put in a full day’s work first. Our timing wasn’t great, as it was pouring rain when we arrived. But ah, to be a VIP — no queue, straight to the tent with complimentary food and drink.

I then ventured off to discover what the other VIP tent was like. “Sir, can I help you?” said the security man at its perimeter. I replied, “It’s okay, I’m VIP,” showing off the badge hanging from its lanyard.

“No, sir, that’s a North Down Council VIP badge.”

“Yes, and?”

“That’s ordinary VIP. This tent is for the real VIPs.”

I laughed. “I didn’t realise there was segregation in the VIP section!” And I retreated to the “ordinary” VIP tent.

The whole VIP section was a kind of sanctuary. I didn’t realise how many people were attending the concert until I entered the main section. Yep, a sell out crowd of 30,000. Summer concert festival atmosphere. (Confession: my first such experience!)

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Lots of concert goers.

Jimmy Eat World was playing, and I timed it just right to hear their anthem song, The Middle. For a moment there I was, rocking in the pouring rain, feeling real. After the song, though, not drunk or ecstatic like those around me, I wised up and went back to the VIP tent, to dry off.

We spent our food vouchers for some Italian-style sausages and BBQ ribs. Washed down with a Tennents (of course) and rejoined the masses who were now jumping with the Kaiser Chiefs. The rained stopped, the sun even reappeared, and everyone was having A Good Time.

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Kaiser Chiefs knew how to rock the crowd.

My favourite piece was I Predict A Riot — somehow that song has a particular resonance hearing it live in Northern Ireland!

As the Kaiser Chiefs are obvious descendents from The Jam, unsurprisingly I really enjoyed this set.

Then I got involved in some unexpected action.

Near me were two lads, early 20s, who began pushing each other around. There were about half a dozen girls and no other lads, so I figured it may have something to do with that, and just ignored it all.

A few minutes later I notice out of the corner of my eye that the bigger lad landed a right hook on the other one’s face, and they were soon locked in a fistacuf battle. Seeing that the ladies were not having much luck pulling them apart  — and shockingly no security guards in view — I impulsively got stuck in and pulled the larger lad onto his back and put my foot on his wrist.

“What are you doing that for?”

“You ain’t getting up,” I told him.

I let him go when the smaller lad cleared off, and thankfully he didn’t have a go at me. Though I was bigger than him, I always prefer not to be swung at! And in a typical bloke fashion, he quickly forgot about it.

But not the wee lad. He was soon coming back and I was ready to cut him off to tell them that I had saved his face once but wouldn’t do it again! Fortunately his female posse kept him away.

Although all the previous music sets were good stuff, it would seem that everyone was really here to see Eminem (and a good reason why crowd was twice as large as previous night’s show).

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Eminem goes hard core.

Eminem duly appeared and got the show blasting with his hard core rap. Hmm. Perhaps I’m too old to be impressed with new old-school, as standing there was reminding me of hard core rap shows I went to over 20 years ago — Public Enemy and  N.W.A. (that’s Niggers With Attitude, for those of you too young to know).

But for us oldsters he did oblige. “How many of you out there are messed up? Messed up on drink, weed, or whatever you’re doing? Well, this is some stuff I made when I was messed up.” And began a medley of Slim Shady (which I video recorded but the files got corrupted — ugh!).

All in all, everyone seemed to have a great time and were well behaved (less the two misfits I dealt with). Those of us who walked the 10 minutes back to our car park were very respectful of the local residents — no shouts or yells, which actually felt strange — thousands of us walking up the road in relative silence must have appeared like zombies!

I have to say that the morning after — and the morning after that — was a bit rough for both of us. It’s fun to play with the kids but it sure takes more time to recover.

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