You say I’m acting like a teenager like it’s a bad thing: the first 24 hours of an album release

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Thursday 10pm: I really should go to bed. The kids will be up early tomorrow but I know that if I stay up until midnight there’s a chance that the new album pre-order will download to my phone. The temptation is huge. Being in New Zealand, it’s one of the only perks of being in the fandom. I get to download first.

11pm: I’m in bed, but I’m still awake…and on Twitter. The excitement of the fandom is palpable. I should really go to sleep. I should really switch my phone off. I’m pretty tired, but excited.

11.30pm: Okay, lights off, phone down. Let’s be grown up and responsible. The download will be there when I wake up. It’s only six hours away until I will be up for the day, I can listen to it then.

2am: I wake up. Shall I look at my phone? It’s not even a question really, there it is…the notification: It has downloaded. Wonderland is on my phone.

I creep out of bed so as not to wake the husband or the kids, avoiding the creaky bits on the stairs and rummage through my bag to find my earphones. In the pitch dark, on the sofa I put my earphones in and begin to listen.

I have been waiting for this for months, I could have waited a few more hours but I seriously couldn’t. I tuck my feet under myself and let the music wash over me. If you haven’t yet listened to on earphones make sure you do, you hear so much detail, all the little neat tricks they have squeezed into each song. I am in love straight away.

It’s the middle of the night so I do a little listen of each song to get a quick overview of what, realistically, will be the soundtrack to my life for the next few months at least. I write a few tweets with my views and chat with a few fans online. Some want to know who is singing what, the overall feel of the album. I gladly answer their questions the best I can.

3am: I finally crawl back into bed. Happy.

6am: Time to start the day, I have a quick read of Twitter so see how the album is being received around the world as the time zones wake up. It is good news. A happy fandom is a happy place to be.

9am: Kids safely at school, I begin excessive caffeine consumption to stay awake and listening on repeat to the album on the living room speakers. I’ve organised my week so I don’t need to be doing anything much today. Being able to mulit-task effectively is my super power. I am glad about it today.

11am: An email from takethat.com – my box set has been dispatched from the UK. Being in New Zealand it will probably take weeks but I’m glad it’s on the way.

1pm: The UK finally gets the download and I see hundreds of other people just like me who stayed up late to hear something we have been waiting for months. It’s good to know it’s not just me. The UK tweeters go crazy for it. It’s brilliant.

Twitter goes quiet as they eventually fall asleep and I get on with my day…with Wonderland as the soundtrack, school pick up, swimming lessons, dinner, bath time, bedtime for the kids, and then it all begins again.

8pm: I chat to friends online who are on their way to London to the album signing. I revel in their excitement and I am happy to see them happy. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must be feeling. I know that when I wake up in their morning my feed will be full of their stories, their pics, their selfies and I am looking forward to it.

9pm: I’m exhausted now. Sleep is calling. Was it worth getting up in the middle of the night? Hell yeah. Is the album everything and more than I was expecting? YES,¬†oh YES. Have Take That still got it? Damn yes, they will never lose it.

I love this fandom. It’s my happy place.

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“The charisma’s non-negotiable…” From H.E.S to Heavy Entertainment Show, how Robbie has done it again.

I’ll start by saying, I know nothing about music other than I know what I like and what I don’t like. What I most definitely like, nay love, is Robbie Williams. Say what you will, but that man is one hell of an entertainer.

It is no secret to those of you who know me as a fan that H.E.S is one of my favourite Robbie songs. It’s up there with Come Undone and Sexed Up as far as songs that I will listen to on repeat daily. So when Guy Chambers let slip on his blog on Sunday that the new album was going to be called Heavy Entertainment Show I was beyond excited at the prospect that we would eventually hear H.E.S live (properly) and that it would have the opportunity to enter the cultural zeitgeist. It’s such a perfectly formed song that to take it from Under The Radar and put it on the new album would not have been a bad idea at all.

Like most of Robbie’s songs I find his lyrics give us the biggest insight into his world. He really is a master of words in his solo work, and it is most definitely evident in his contribution to the Take That album ‘Progress’. He understands the business and views it with cynicism and scorn, often for comedic effect, often very dark. “We are living in the wildest times, lost my mind a while ago,” he sings. He knows this better than most of us and that’s what makes him so good. The slow rhythm of H.E.S, the powerful lyrics, the deepness of his voice resonating from the song make this one of my favourites. I didn’t think it could be matched.

So along comes Sunday, the Apple Music Festival gig, the promo teaser for the new album (finally confirmed as being titled Heavy Entertainment Show) is posted online and boom, the fandom goes wild. Well played to his management and media team by the way, excellent promotion, long may it continue. The song of the new album? Not H.E.S but the newly formed Heavy Entertainment Show, and man, is it heavy. I LOVE IT.


I’ll admit at first there was a little disappointment but we are talking momentarily. As soon as I heard Heavy Entertainment Show I was hooked. I am a “volcano that’s about to blow.” I want the album now, I want my next hit of the new Robbie Williams, who is strikingly like the old Robbie Williams with even more charisma that is non-negotiable and even more magnificent (have you seen him lately? He’s getting even more handsome with age – I think the love of a good woman may be helping there. Family life certainly suits him).

The song is fresh and new but has that friendly familiarity that makes you think you have always known it. The lyrics are catchy and are already sticking in my mind (tends to happen when you listen to something on repeat, I know, but still). It is the antithesis to H.E.S which has a steady cadence, Heavy Entertainment Show is big and bold and makes no secret of that. Just hearing it  you can imagine the glitz and glitter of a live performance of the song. It will be perfect to open a gig, as perfect as it is to open an album. So what are you waiting for Robbie? Announce those tour dates and “shake your ass, come over here”, back to New Zealand for, at least one more date.

And which do I prefer? You can’t compare them. I love them equally but there is clearly a deep connection between the two songs, that’s not brain science. We will “see the world through it’s ancient eyes” and he will “give it all then a little bit more.”

Robbie, I am a child of cultural abandon and you are my saviour. Thank you.

“One day maybe it will hurt no more…” problems of an overseas fangirl.

I am by nature a problem solver. If there is a problem, I look for solutions and if it is possible I will make changes to make things better. I’m that kind of person. I’m not one to moan and complain, honestly. I’m saying that at the onset of this blog post because if it comes across like that I really don’t intend it that way. I’m about to talk about a problem there isn’t an answer to.

I decided to write this little blog post because I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

I have written before about being a fangirl, and my drug of choice is Take That, but I hope that whatever your poison is, fangirl wise, you may be able to relate to this.

My fangirling is made possible by the internet, social media and predominately Twitter. I love the interaction between fans, reading news, seeing photos and even interaction with my idols. The joy of getting a retweet, reply or even a direct message is wonderful, indescribable and some may think this sad but boo sucks to them!

But it is a double edged sword; as much as I love to login and see everyone meeting the band, it is bittersweet. Knowing that you are on the other side of the world and not able to do that truly sucks. I once read on a FB page (which will remain nameless) that maybe fans overseas should follow bands closer to home. I couldn’t believe it. And there is always the constant discussion of what a “true fan” is. Who cares? If you are a fan, you are a fan, regardless of where in the world you are.

So with numerous projects in the pipeline and new music on the horizon I am excited to see my Twitter feed full of photos and news. It is going to be pretty nonstop for the next six months at least, but sometimes it just stops you in your tracks and you feel overcome with envy and jealousy, yep, there I’ve said it. I am so happy people I would consider to be good friends are fulfilling their dreams, but damn, I wish it was me!

See? There is no solution to my “problem”. I live on the other side of the world and I wouldn’t change that but just once I would like it to be me having the chat, taking the selfie and getting a hug. So if you are one of the lucky ones just bear with us overseas fans who are full of mixed emotions. We WANT to see your pics and hear how amazing it was, but we also want to bury our heads in the sand and wish it wasn’t happening! It’s our problem, not yours.

At the weekend I cut down the list of people I follow on Twitter to the people in the fandom I actually converse with, turned off retweets on a few, muted a couple and I have to be honest, it has helped. There is such a thing as too much when it makes you sad.

As for the fandom sadness, the fandom happiness truly outweighs it…I just wish they wouldn’t bicker so much and appreciate how lucky they are. Seriously.

And as for meeting my idols? I will never give up hope because as a certain person once said “what’s the point in giving up?”

“Get into the groove”…why I loved Madonna’s Rebel Heart show so much.

I’ve been a busy lady lately. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to go and see Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour at Vector Arena in Auckland. I was not disappointed. It felt like a life changing experience.

I could stop there, but I shall explain.

Months ago, my friend was buying four tickets for Madonna. I had just splurged on Robbie Williams’ tickets (two shows), Ed Sheeran tickets…as always, all the tickets go on sale at the same time. I umm-ed and ah-ed. I was one of those voices you saw on social media, “Would Madonna still be good now? Would she still have it?” I was a doubting Thomas.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved Madonna since I can remember. I remember listening to True Blue and Like a Virgin on cassette tape. I can remember singing into my hairbrush and dancing round my bedroom. I can remember putting on dance shows with my best friend, Maria, for our parents and even at school.

Time moved on. I can remember leg dancing (don’t ask) with my friend Cathy to Like A Prayer. I can remember getting into Prince because of Madonna; only Diamonds and Pearls mind you, that was my era.

I went to university and worked in a bar where every night they would play Beautiful Stranger. I am famous, amongst friends, for my literal dancing to Madonna (I’m available for weddings and birthdays if you’re interested). You get the idea? Madonna was always there in my life, but I needed the money. $200 a ticket is a lot. But then I won $500! I completed a random online survey about cheese, you can’t make this stuff up, and there was my answer!

Yes, I would like a ticket.

Yes, I wanted to see Madonna.

The months passed. I never got round to listening to Rebel Heart (I’ve been listening to it a lot since the gig of course) but it didn’t matter. I was at the arena with three friends who were all equally excited about seeing someone perform who they had been fans of since they were kids. Perfect.

Maybe it is because we went on the Sunday night and we knew she had kept the audience waiting, but honestly the fact that she didn’t come on stage until 10.35pm didn’t bother me. Really, it didn’t and I didn’t see anyone around where we sitting getting annoyed either. We danced to the DJ, we chatted, we got excited. After all, Bitch, she’s Madonna, she can do anything she wants! She’s never played in New Zealand before, waiting an extra hour and a half isn’t going to kill anyone, plus the organisers had emailed that day warning that the show would go on late.

  
The show was everything and more. You think of it, she had it: dancers galore, light shows, circus performers, pyrotechnics. It wasn’t just her singing with a band, it was a proper show. I felt like I was at a saucy version of Cirque du Soleil. This is a good thing.

She played a good mix of old and new material, all the favourites and, from what I have learned since, all the best songs of the new album. She dealt with her collaborations by having effective and excellent visuals on the screen behind her. I recognised a few but am showing my age by saying not all.

Madonna shows off her acrobatic skills.

We were up dancing and singing along. I wish the whole crowd had been as enthusiastic. I always feel for artists coming to New Zealand as often the audiences can be a little reserved. My view is what is the point of going if you are not going to participate? Wait until the DVD comes out and you can sit on the sofa and watch it. Get up and dance!

Over the week I have seen various comments about Madonna’s shows and I have rushed to defend her, even though she doesn’t need it. I feel so passionately about what I saw I want everyone to know. The most ridiculous thing I heard was someone saying they didn’t expect her to be so “overtly sexual.” This is Madonna. She has songs titled ‘Like A Virgin’, ‘Unapologetic Bitch’, ‘Bad Girl’. Madonna is sex. What exactly were you expecting?

So despite any negativity you may have read about the Rebel Heart shows, this fan loved it. Loved it so much she really didn’t care about only have three and a half hours sleep that night before real life began again. For one night only Madonna took me to a world of excess, fun and naughtiness. It was worth the money, the wait and the late night.

Madonna performs her Rebel Heart Tour at the Vector Arena in Auckland - her first concert in New Zealand.

Images by JASON DORDAY / FAIRFAX NZ