A perennial problem faced by blind concert-goers the world over. Thankfully this was a question I did not have to ask on Friday when my sister and I visited the Manchester Evening News Arena to witness Kylie performing her Showgirl Homecoming tour. I did not miss a single second, which is just as well because Kylie was simply sensational!
We arrived early at the M.E.N. taking a moment to locate the essentials including seats, bar and WC. As usual the arena stewards were on hand to assist with direction as and when required. As a blind concert-goer Spending a moment doing a little orientation before a gig usually turns out to be a worthwhile investment. One is then able to independently enjoy the rest of the evening without the nagging uncertainty that should one wish to leave one’s seat for any reason during the performance, one may never find it again amongst a crowd of fifteen thousand people! The alternative is to be made to feel like a child asking someone in a yellow jacket if they would be so good as to take you to the loo! What independent adult would accept that indignity? I guess whatever works for you. However, I am very much a fan of the “get there early and figure out where everything is” method, in order that one can be self-sufficient throughout the rest of the show.
I know several blind people who have become masters in the art of refusing to answer the call of nature, because of the chance of not making it back to their seat afterwards. Some blind people with particularly weak bladders run the risk of serious dehydration at concerts as they simply refuse to take onboard any liquid for hours before and during important gigs in order to avoid going for a piss. So knowing where the basics are at concerts can seriously impact one’s enjoyment of what should be a really special occasion.
Generally the staff at the M.E.N. provide an reliable and friendly service especially when compared with their counterparts at a number of other high-profile venues throughout the UK. The stewards at the M.E.N. genuinely want you to have a good night out, and were all set to provide a little orientation pre-Kylie. Save for a bit of faffing around trying to find someone prepared to point us in the direction of a taxi rank at the end of the gig, I am delighted to be able to report that once again we received an exemplary service from the staff in Manchester on Friday. Thank you. It is a travesty that these people only get paid £5.50 per hour when ticket costs average five or ten times this. Having said that, Friday was worth every penny!
There is little I can add to the glowing reviews Kylie’s Showgirl Homecoming tour concerts have already received. When a coquettish charismatic Kylie is bobbing around on stage belting out cheesy pop songs, all seems right with the world. Like millions of other fans I have followed Kylie’s career with interest for nearly twenty years and was stunned in 2005 when reports started coming in of her having been diagnosed with breast cancer. Clearly the choice of Better the Devil You Know as an opener was calculated to be poignant and we were prepared to be moved. And yes when the princess of pop took to the stage many members of Kylie’s audience shed the odd tear of joy.