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Monday 19 December 2011

My trip to The X Factor final!

I’ve always been a ‘yes’ girl, eager to do, see, try, and go to as many things and places as possible…even when my workload says otherwise. I found myself in this situation last Sunday when my friend Kizzy sent me a text message:
Kizzy: Do you like The X Factor?
Me: I’m planning to watch the final tonight (inside thinking ummmm, yes but I can’t admit it too pubically, even though I clearly just have)
Kizzy: Do you want to watch it live?
Me: (inside:……but she’s going with her cousin, does she have another ticket….I’m so behind on my work, I have a chandelier to make by tomorrow…most of which I was going to do in front of the TV yet I replied…) YES! 
And the next thing I knew I had an hour to get glammed up and hot step it to Wembley. Kizzy’s boyfriend works behind the scenes on the show’s lights, which anyone who watched it will agree, are pretty spectacular. Her Gary-Barlow-obsessed cousin had been excited for weeks to be going with Kizzy, who managed to get free tickets courtesy of the boyf, but sadly was unwell. So there I was in her place, slipping inside the Arena minutes after arriving, while for miles ahead, queues of public were freezing their fingers off.
We were given two garishly coloured bands and told to wear one on each wrist. They didn’t seem to do anything, there were no buttons, levers or cords to pull. It was most peculiar, then at the stroke of 5.30, everyone’s bands turned on. At this point people were just milling around, waiting to go inside, and we started cheering from the sheer shock and surprise of our wrists coming alive and being controlled by someone/something(?) else. 
We had no idea where we’d end up sitting  and were ecstatic to discover we were five rows from the front at the right hand side of the stage, which is where all the action takes place. While it looks like everything is ‘central’ when you see in on TV, the action was actually right of centre. Westlife were practically touching distance when they came on stage. (Not that I would want to touch Westlife but I was seated next to another guest’s mum who went crazy for them : ) ) 
Being so close to the stage made you feel like you were part of the special effects. Every time the pyrotechnics blasted out you could feel the burn of the flames. 
When you’re sitting at home you assume TV presenters have spent all day learning their lines but of course (and having done a course in TV presenting myself I know this…though that’s another story!), it’s all about the autocue; which Dermot was reading, again, on 'our end' of the stage. 
I heard various accounts after the show was broadcast from people who hated watching it at Wembley, saying it seemed to be better quality in the TV studio. I even listened to a chap on the radio rant about how the Arena had no atmosphere and the singing was lost in such a large space. I can confirm that in the live moment, there was a definite electric excitement in the air. Especially being able to see the off-camera antics. For example when you see Dermot chatting away; else where on stage, the sets are changing and the contestants are composing themselves. Marcus wore the biggest smile whenever the camera was on him but he also spent a long time just focusing and not smiling at all.
Then as the first chord hit, he switched into character….really fascinating to observe. 
I don’t know what it felt like watching it at home, but the advert breaks seemed to take forever…they felt really long…we didn’t see them. Instead we got views of the judges having their faces powdered (seriously…does it really take three people to make Kelly look gorgeous??!). There was also an off camera presenter providing audience entertainment so we didn’t get bored…though it mainly involved him asking members of the audience to come on stage and sing….most of those that volunteered were children and singing kids are really not my cup of tea : (
As ever, Little Mix were terribly styled. Seriously…why is Perrie dressed as a circus ringmaster…it’s unflattering and looks ridiculous. And I’m not even the kind of person that judges people on their clothes but we all know that LM are styled by someone, who probably gets paid loads. I doubt the girls have much say. Yet each week they looked awful. The semi finals the previous day were the worst. They were dressed head-to-toe in washed out denim...need I say more? I really hope that they change their stylist asap. They need someone who know’s how to flatter them and turn them into role models. They should be inspiring trends; not making people go off fashion.
The highlight of the entire evening and what made getting home and staying up excrutiatingly late to work, and then spend the next day like a zombie; was the set by Coldplay. I’m not a Coldplay fan. The hatred started when I saw them perform in Cardiff at a Student Radio Association conference back in 2000. They were a support act to an indie band who have since disappeared. People barely knew who they were but I was soooo bored because Chris Martin, the singer, seemed so big headed. He spent the entire set bigging himself up, it was cringeworthy but I guess it proves that self-belief can change your life. He thought he was amazing and, he’s now a billionaire - clearly we could all do with some of that positive attitude. Back to the songs… I wasn’t really listening to the music but as soon as they began playing; 20,000 wrist bands turned on and it was like being in a complete dreamlike, magical world.
The light-up bands were provided by Coldplay to enhance the live music experience by increasing audience participation. I wouldn’t say I felt like I was participating, I just felt like I was ‘experiencing’; and it really was a gig experience like no other…or perhaps that should be stadium experience like no other?
It was certainly epic.I watched the songs back and while it looked good, in real life it really was something else: something very special.
Another epic moment was waiting for the results…

And then before you knew it, the stage was brimming with ex-contestants…

…and rainbow confetti..
So my completely unexpected Sunday night which could have ended with me lounging on my sofa chilling in my PJs while working, actually turned into a night of momentous glamour. Kizzy and I had so much fun, cheering, dancing and waving our wrists. I feel so lucky to have been there. It’s certainly going down in my list of ‘wow experiences.’
Speaking of wow, this is what Cannonball should sound like (not the winner's single version): 
(All photos by me apart from the ones of me that Kizzy took!)


  1. All I can say is that I'm loving that hairdo, its tres chic. What an experience it must have been, loved the Chris Martin Anecdote too

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