A Smokin’ Girls Night Out

This week the third bus – sorry concert- came along and in its own way this one was extra special.

This one fell the day after one of my best friend’s birthdays. Over the years (almost forty of them) we’ve laughed together,cried together, got drunk together and worked together  many times but, apart from a few musical evenings in the local pub way back in the day pre-children, we’ve never been to a gig together. I’ll be honest, it’s never crossed my mind to suggest it before now. However this one came along at an opportune time and seemed to be the perfect solution to the annual birthday present dilemma. (This particular friend has a habit of saying “I don’t know” when you ask what she would like as a gift. A habit that earned her a gift of a small box with “I don’t know” neatly written on a piece of paper inside it on one occasion)

I was secretly thrilled when she said she’d like to come along.

And the band of choice? – Blackberry Smoke, a southern/country rock band from Atlanta, Georgia.

Thursday, concert day, was one of those days where anything that could go wrong did. All thoughts of a relaxing day off work before heading out for the evening went up in smoke! By the time I picked my friend up, I was a frazzled wreck, running late (which for those who know me is a rarity and a national disaster in my book) and completely and utterly harassed. Somehow we made it to the station in time for our train and I collapsed into the seat with a sigh of relief.

As the train pulled out of the station we both left the stresses and strains of our real lives behind us for a few hours.

The venue for the evening yet again was Glasgow’s O2 ABC (think I’ve got a season ticket for it!) and, after a very welcome, very strong caffeine fix at my usual haunt across the street, we joined a very long queue to get in.  One that snaked up one of the steepest streets in Glasgow. The show was Sold Out. A beautiful thing.

As we climbed the stairs to the larger of the two halls, I debated silently with myself about where we should aim to stand. Near the front? (Neither of us are particularly tall so front is good) Near the back? (Perhaps less crowded and more personal space)

Over our coffees, my friend had confessed to never having stood at a rock show before and to never really having been to one either. Her education has been sadly lacking in this area but I’ll take some of the blame for that.

I guided her over to the merchandising stall and treated her to a purple Blackberry Smoke T-shirt to celebrate the loss of her concert virginity!

There was still space just off the barrier, so in for a penny in for a pound as they say, and we took our places.

The support act for the evening totally blew me away. It was Aaron Keylock, an extremely talented young blues guitarist. He’s been on the professional blues circuit for about four years according to his website bio. Doubly impressive when you realise he’s only 16 years old. Jimmy Page, watch your back! Dressed in vibrant purple corduroy flares and with a body like the gable end of a £5 pound note, this talented young man had me mesmerised for his entire half hour set. I only wish I’d bought his CD at the merchandise stall. Next time!

Bang on eight thirty, and after a mad dash through the 1300 strong crowd to the little girl’s room (sorry to anyone I may have trodden on or elbowed) I re-took my place beside my friend. The lights dimmed. The curtains glided back. Cue the start of ninety minutes of high class southern rock. We sang. We clapped along (well, as best as I could considering I have precious little sense of rhythm!) Both of us loved every minute of it, as did the other 1300 folk around us.

When the evening came to an end, as all good things must, the lights came up and we began to make our way to the exit. Everyone around us seemed relaxed and smiling. It really had been a great feel good show.

When we were almost at the door I found myself behind two concert-goers who had obviously enjoyed themselves. In front of me, along with their humans, were two guide dogs. From the tail whipping that my knees took, those pooches had enjoyed Blackberry Smoke as much as everyone else. Humbling.

I wonder if their favourite song of the night was “Sleepin’ Dogs”?

Blackberry Smoke collage

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