20 Hours Spent at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro

On Sunday, yes Easter Sunday, I spent 20 hours at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, one of the major music venues. Why do you ask? Well, Ed Sheeran of course. Why else?

Let me rewind.

I took the train from London’s King Cross Station to Glasgow Queen Street Station on Saturday morning. There I met my friend Claire who was attending Ed’s concert with me (YES ON EASTER). We dropped our bags at the hotel and then went to the venue to scope it out for the next day. We found the main doors and then the doors inside that our tickets specifically told us we had to enter through.

We were set for the next day.

For the rest of the day, we walked around Glasgow. This didn’t take too long as I really didn’t feel like there was much to the city. It had a big shopping district which was pretty busy as it was a bank holiday. We also went to Glasgow Green, one of the larger parks in Glasgow. In the park, there was also a botanic garden so we spent some time there, then headed for dinner. After dinner it was early to bed for us as we had a VERY early wake-up call for the next morning.

Fast-forward seven hours. Our alarms went off at 5 a.m. It was time to get dressed and head out the door. The SSE Hydro was a fifteen minute walk from our hotel and we arrived at 5:50 a.m., dark and early! We were the first ones to the venue, but the next group of people showed up five minutes later.

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Queuing had begun!

People continued to show up, but the first larger wave of people came around 8:30 a.m. Then it was quite slow again until around noon. It rained all morning which was most likely why there was a much lower amount of fans queued up early on.

While in line all day, I made friends early on with a few other fans who were at the front of the line near me. One of them I had also seen at BBC Radio 1 when I met Ed and knew of because of Twitter. I also made friends with two girls who had traveled from Norway to see Ed in Glasgow because he didn’t have any tour dates there, one girl from Germany who was living and working in Glasgow, and a couple who went to uni in Dundee. Not only was it really cool to talk with so many people from all over the world, but it also meant you could get up and go to the bathroom without the fear of losing your spot in line. All good things.

Around 4 p.m., the lines finally started to really fill up. By then, the rain had ended so it made sense. An hour later, everyone was standing in line as there was only an hour left until the doors opened. The crowds were buzzing with excitement. And I was at the front. Amazing.

Five minutes to six, I could see the security guards and ticket takers meeting in the entry way, going over what a real ticket looked like compared to a fake as there have been many problems with this when it comes to Ed concerts in the past. They opened the doors one minute late and I was the first one through to have my ticket scanned and bag checked. Then the sprint was on. I ran to Door B, where I got my hand stamped for GA and was told to walk in the arena. Good thing I’m a trained speed walker. I made it to the barrier and had a spot dead center.

I was at the barrier. Dead center. For Ed.

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At the barrier with Claire, the students from Dundee, the girl from Germany, and the two girls whose names both start with M, from Norway. (Sorry I’m awful with names!!)

Ed had two openers, Ryan McMullan and then Anne Marie. Both were so different as Ryan was a singer-songwriter and Anne Marie was pop, but both put on an incredible set! They went on at 7 p.m. and Ed went on around 8:30.

The lights went down and when he came out, I could not believe how close he was. Despite the large venue, it was so easy to forget how big the crowd was and being so close reminded me of the first show I ever saw Ed at in 2012 in Milwaukee because he was literally feet away. The show was amazing, and really rivals my first show as being my favorite time seeing Ed. I swear that he looked at me during one of the verses of You Need Me I Don’t Need You (my FAVORITE song), which helps to make this concert rival my first Ed concert as my favorite.

After the concert finished, Claire and I went with two other fans to the back of the venue to wait for Ed at the stage door. Ed had been to the Hyrdo two years ago on Halloween, and they had both been there and waited for him after where they eventually met him. We were hoping that he would also come out tonight to meet fans as it was the first leg of the U.K. tour and he was playing a second show at the Hydro the next night so he had nowhere to rush off to.

At this point, it was about 10:30 p.m. and was about 38 degrees outside. Not great. There were people standing outside the gate already, so we joined them to make a crowd of about 23. As the night went on, people continued to leave either because it was so late, or cold or they gave up on thinking Ed would actually come out.

We had heard from security that the venue ultimately had to shut-down around 1 a.m. so that everyone working could go home, therefore meaning Ed would eventually have to leave.

By 1 a.m., there were only 13 of us left standing outside in the cold. A few minutes later, there was movement from the stage door and a couple walked out, came outside the security gate, looked at us and then started smoking a cigarette. We didn’t think much of this. A few more people came out of the door, two women and two guys and we didn’t think much of this either. We all started quietly talking again when suddenly a voice interrupted us.

“Hey guys.”

We all turned. We knew that voice.

“Want to take some photos and sign some things?”

It was Ed. Our waiting had pulled off.

He was dressed casually in a black Hoax hoodie with the hood up. It was so weird because we were oddly so relaxed and so was he. Well, besides his body guard Kev. Kev never seems relaxed though, so its fine.

Before we started taking photos though, Ed had more to say. He introduced us to the two women with him who turned out to be his “awesome cousins.” He informed us that they were supposed to have come to the show the next day, but decided to go today, so they just so happened to have two extra tickets that they wanted to give away to us. He asked if anyone was in town the next day and didn’t have tickets or had friends who wanted to go and didn’t have tickets. He then let his cousins pick someone to give the tickets to.

Next order of business was the chocolate bunny he held in his hands. He asked if anyone wanted it, as it was Easter after all, and ended up giving it to one of the girls I had spent the day in line with who also just so happened to have gotten his setlist that night as well. It was a pretty good night for her!

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Then Ed began taking photos and talking with us. I stood to the side with Claire, Kel and Rebecca (the two girls I had met in line). While standing there, Ed’s cousins started talking to me and quickly realized (thanks to my strong American accent so I’ve heard) that I was not from Scotland or the U.K. for that matter. They asked where I was from and I replied with “Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” They were so amazed that they yelled over to Ed who was still taking photos and talking with other fans and said, “Ed, this girl came all the way from Wisconsin to see you!” He looked over, gave a head nod and smiled, then went back to what he was doing. I continued to chat with his cousins, and quickly informed them that while I was from Wisconsin, I was currently studying abroad in London. They were still confused as to why I was in Glasgow then. By this time, Ed had moved closer and he asked if I had just not gotten tickets to his London shows and I said I was leaving for home in a week and wouldn’t be here then. He nodded again, then continued talking and taking photos with other people.

I kept talking with his cousins, who kept saying how they always tell Ed how dedicated his fans are. I said I had seen him a few times before in the U.S., had met him at BBC Radio 1 a month ago, and had just been to his concert at Royal Albert Hall. They thought it was so cool.

Then it was finally time for Claire and I to take photos and talk with Ed. Somehow, I wasn’t freaking out on the outside (inside was a different story though). I was actually able to form complete sentences and carry on a conversation. I first told him that I was from Wisconsin and had seen him in 2011 when he first came there. He looked puzzled for a bit, then said “I don’t think I came to Wisconsin in 2011. You mean 2012?” Yes. 2012. I got corrected by Ed. Go me.

I then went on to ask him about something that happened at that first concert. A girl in the audience had made a goat noise and he had stopped playing to ask “Was that a goat?” And went on to tell us that he had been given a goat and had it somewhere in the world. I asked him if he still had the goat or knew where it was.

Again, he looked puzzled for a bit, then he got excited and said “Oh yes! The goat. I wasn’t actually given the goat, I adopted it. Its living somewhere in Peru now.”

So now I finally have an answer to the goat question that many from Wisconsin have been wondering about for five years.

Here’s a link to a video with the goat banter from that first Milwaukee concert in 2012.

After that, I took a couple of photos with him and then asked if he would sign my ticket, which he did (with my handy dandy Sharpie that I’ve kept in my purse for years just waiting for this moment, no joke).

I then took a photo for Claire, and Kev, Ed’s bodyguard, was really yelling at us to hurry up because they had to leave. Ed was relaxed and not rushed though. But Kev started to get on him too about leaving so he started heading to the car when I realized I hadn’t asked him for a hug. So I quickly did and he stopped to hug me before getting in the car.

Then he was off.

We all stood there for a second looking at each other like “did that really just happen?” The whole time, everyone was so relaxed and it seemed so normal. And I actually had a real conversation. And had my ticket signed. Got a few photos. And last but not least, a hug.

Well worth the three and a half hours we spend out in the cold after the show.

Apart from meeting Ed, the day itself was one of my favorites to date for a few other reasons. Despite waiting out in the cold for so long, both before and after the show, I was able to meet with and talk to so many people from all over the world. Its so incredible how music and people like Ed, can bring people together. I was so surprised by how kind everyone in line was, offering their blankets to others when they left for a bit, sharing food, or telling stories about how important music, specifically Ed, was to them. While some people may call us crazy for the time we spent there, (I call it dedicated), I personally enjoyed the long, cold day. I got to spend it with people I never would have met otherwise, sharing stories related to traveling, culture and of course, Ed. Its amazing what music can do to bring individuals of different backgrounds together.

Since I saw him in 2012 (yes 2012, not 2011, thanks for the correction Ed), I’ve always dreamed of meeting him. Really meeting him, not like I did at BBC, and this was exactly what I was waiting for. Since he has become so big, I never though something like this would ever happen again, but its nice to see that he still makes time for his fans.

“Still the same as a year ago, but more people hear me though,” holds true today.

Thank you Ed.

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Playing Tour Guide, Stonehenge & Bath

Its been just over a week since I last wrote a blog post, but so much has happened in that span of time! With only eight full days left in London, everything seems to be going at lighting speed around here. Let me catch you up.

First off, my family came to visit last week! I picked them up from Heathrow on Friday morning and threw them right into the mix as we took the tube into the center of London. They brought four suitcases with them, but we were able to “easily” manage lugging them up the tube stairs! (Really, we did!)

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With them here, I was back in tour-guide mode. Soon after dropping their bags at the hotel, we headed outside (literally out the back door as the hotel was on the London Eye Pier) to the London Eye! Luckily, we had pre-booked tickets and the line was pretty short so we were on the Eye in no time!

While the London Eye is definitely a really cool experience to take advantage of while in London, I’ve learned its not the only place to get great views of the city. For much less, or for free, you can visit other locations in London to get a sky high view. Two of my favorite vantage points include the top floor of the Switch House at the Tate Modern and the Sky Garden. Both are free to the public and great alternatives to the London Eye. If you are interested in going to the Sky Garden though, be sure to keep checking their website up to two weeks in advance in order to reserve spots.

After the London Eye, we walked around the South Bank for a while and then made our way over to Covent Garden. There, we went to a Three Phone store to get SIM cards for my mom and brother. For only 20 pounds, they were able to get a SIM card with 12 gigabytes of data on it to use for their week here. Later in the week, my family was leaving to travel to Ireland where their phone would also be usable. If you are staying in London for longer than a week or will be traveling in surrounding cities, getting an international SIM card is a great option rather than paying the outrageous data packages offered in the states for international travel.

On Saturday, I took my family on one of my favorite walking trips to see my favorite part of London! We took the tube from Westminster to Ladbroke Grove in Notting Hill. We started at the end of Portobello Road Market (my absolute favorite market London has to offer), and made our way all the way down until we reached Notting Hill High Street. From there we walked to the north entrance to Holland Park, a new favorite park of mine. In Holland Park, you can find the Kyoto Gardens, a Japanese garden complete with koi fish and peacocks! What more could you ask for?

We then made a pit stop at the Design Museum on Kensington High Street. This is my favorite museum in all of London as it focuses on both old and modern design of all types including furniture, electronics and logos just to name a few topics. The stop at the Design Museum was also a good break from all the walking we had already done.

From there, we walked to Hyde Park and visited Kensington Palace and the Kensington Gardens which were in full bloom. Everyone was getting hungry, so we made our way to Nando’s in South Ken for lunch!

Post lunch, we made a stop at Harrod’s, the worlds largest and most expensive department store, for my dad. It was quite the interesting place, with a large food court (fancy!), and tons of boutique stores inside (fancy! think Dolce Gabbana and Versace). Quite the day.

On Sunday morning, we got up early to take a train from Waterloo Station to Windsor. We were visiting one of Her Majesty the Queen’s royal residence’s, Windsor Castle. We were able to get there right as they began letting people in and didn’t have to wait in line for long. We toured the grounds, which were beautiful, and then went inside the State Apartments. The coolest part about the visit was that the Queen was actually there at the same time as we were! She spends Easter at Windsor Castle every year, so it was really cool to see her “standard,” aka her flag, outside signaling she was there!

On Tuesday after class, I took my family to Victoria Train Station where they took the Gatwick Express to the airport. They were off for Ireland for the next few days! It was so great to finally see them after being apart for almost four months! Only a week till I see them again, this time at home!

Today (Friday), I took a day trip to both Stonehenge and Bath with two friends from the flat across from mine. Abby, Brooke and I enjoyed having a photo shoot in front of the infamous rocks. They were big. Apart from that, there wasn’t much to Stonehenge apart from the beautiful rolling green and yellow hills. SO PRETTY. The English countryside is stunning in the spring!

We then boarded our bus again and traveled to the Roman City of Bath. Because it was a Bank Holiday, Bath was incredibly crowded. We had about three and a half hours in the city, but an hour and a half was devoted to touring the ancient Roman Baths. The Baths were really cool, but also really gross. The water was a bright green color and you could see filth floating around in it. We were specifically told not to touch the water as you were highly likely to get sick if you did. It was amazing how many people you could see ignoring these simple instructions and touching the hot, germ-infested, bath water. Why people, why?

As I write this post, I’m currently waiting for my laundry to be done so I can pack for my final trip abroad. Tomorrow I leave bright and early for Glasgow, Scotland! I’m taking the train and can’t wait to see Scotland! Apart from that, I also can’t wait to see Ed (again)! Until then!

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Because I had to include this photo.

The Day I Met Ed Sheeran

Yes. I’m devoting an entire blog post to this day. Would you expect anything less from me?

On Tuesday, I did something I’ve been trying to do for over seven years: meet Ed Sheeran.

I woke up at 6 a.m. and was to the BBC Broadcasting House by 7:30 a.m. And NO MOM, I was not the first person there! I swear. I sat on the ground at the corner of the barrier that stood outside of the BBC Radio 1 studios.

After sitting on the cold, hard ground for just over two hours, it was time to stand up. Ed’s manager Stuart Camp, his guitar technician Trevor Dawkins, and the rest of his small team had arrived. Ed was not far behind.

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The forever sassy Stuart Camp and MarkΒ 

At 9:52, a van pulled up and he got out. At first I was unsure if he would even stop to say hi to all the fans as the radio show he was going to be on started at 10 a.m., but in true Ed fashion, he did. Not only did he stop to say hello to us, but he literally stopped to take a photo with every single fan along the barrier.

I stood in the corner (the best spot), as I was able to take photos on my camera as he approached, and then, once he was in the corner, he spent the most time there as there were more fans in the area.

As Ed came closer, I noticed something very odd. When Ed got to an area of fans, everyone went silent and instead only stuck there phones out in his face. Barely anyone actually said hello or talked with him. It was weird.

Once Ed was in the corner, I worked up the courage to say hello. While it wasn’t the longest of conversations or filled with the most content, it is one that I will never forget. It went a little something like this:

Me: “Hi Ed!”

(Ed turns and looks at me, I freeze inside, what the heck did I just do???)

Me: “Happy belated birthday!”

Ed: (A small smile spreading on his face) “Aw, thank you!”

(Ed continues to smile, then turns back to take photos. I die inside.)

Then he approached and I handed him my phone to take a photo. It was amazing.

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Ed then went inside and was interviewed then performed five songs in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.

I waited outside with a few friends in the off chance that he came back outside to say hello again after. Good thing I did because the BBC Radio 1 doors are a hot-spot for celebrities I guess.

I ended up talking to Jedward, twin brothers from Dublin that are pop-singers (Ed is also obsessed with them). And then Nick Grimshaw, the host of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, and then Katy Perry also spontaneously came out and talked to the crowd. You could say it was a casual morning. I now know where I will be hanging out on days when I don’t have class…

I still can’t believe this happened and it is most definitely a day I will never forget. 7 years in the making.

P.S.

I will be traveling on spring break for the next week and a half and will not have my laptop so this will be my last update for a while. You can expect a long blog post about my travels in Europe when I get back!