On the bill, I was thrilled to see, was Cam, whose song ‘Mayday’ I love, and who I admire as a fellow singer songwriter. Also performing was Brett Eldredge, and headlining was none other than Keith Urban. I confess to knowing more about Cam than I do about Keith, other than that he is Australian, is married to fellow Ozzie Nicole Kidman, is quite cool looking and has a great song, ‘The Fighter’, on which he duets with Carrie Underwood. So I was looking forward to finding out more about the man and his music.
At this point I want to say that I don’t think the pre-event publicity for C2C was brilliant, especially for us C2C virgins. Before we got there, we hadn’t realised that the music events got under way much earlier than the billed start time of the evening concert with Cam, Brett and Keith, and as a result we found out too late that some other acts I would love to have seen, including Fairground Saints and Lainey Wilson, had played on smaller stages around the O2 earlier in the afternoon. Had we known, we could easily have got there in time to see them.
I have the eye of a magpie, I freely admit it, and as soon as we arrived at the O2 I was drawn in to the Town Square tent, where everything Western, from distressed cowboy hats to funky cactus earrings to woven Navajo jackets, was on sale – everything designed to appeal to the Calamity Jane in me. But we had to press on, to meet friends inside and take our seats in the main O2 concert venue.
Those seats turned out to be in the very highest part (bar one row) of the gods, and having clambered up the steep steps and teetered along the row to reach them, all the while trying not to topple over, I felt relieved to be there at last as I endeavoured to acclimatise myself to the vertiginous view of the stage way in the distance.
Once Cam came on stage, all was forgotten in the joy of finally being at the C2C in the presence of some of my favourite country artists.
But I couldn’t forget the trinkets of Town Square…
All through the next three performances – a singer on the secondary stage in the big venue, who did a sterling version of ‘Shallow’ from the Lady Gaga version of A Star is Born, then Brett Eldredge, who sang a very moving song about his grandmother having Alzheimer's, and then, again on the smaller stage, Runaway June, whom I enjoyed a lot – I kept thinking about the lovely leather and silver watch I’d seen, and wondering how much it was and whether it would still be there if I snuck back.
So as Brett disappeared off stage, I made the fateful decision: to teeter back down the steps in the interval before Keith came on, and go and have another look at the gorgeous goodies.
Down and down and down various flights of stairs I went, both inside the venue and in the outer hall, until I finally came to the security guards at the main entrance, who took no notice of me as I went through the scanner machines and into the area of restaurants and bars. From there I went outside into the cold evening, and there, to my disappointment, I saw that the entrance to Town Square was boarded up for the night. Bummer! I wouldn’t be getting that watch after all, as we were driving back to the south of France the next day.
So I went back inside, and thought I’d first go and see what music events were happening in the Blue Room venue while I was in the restaurant area. It was there that I made the awful discovery: not only was the Blue Room now closed for the night too, but I would only have been able to access it from inside the O2 concert venue, which, now that I’d come out of it, I wouldn’t be allowed back into.
So I wouldn’t be seeing Keith Urban either.
It was a shattering blow, and I felt utterly stupid and shallow, having been lured out merely by the prospect of looking at more Western-themed baubles. So I wandered into Starbucks, bought a cappuccino, and settled down to write a blog to pass the time and try to feel less glum. Even that wasn’t plain sailing, as no sooner had I sat down than a buxom young woman plonked herself next to me on the pretext of charging her phone using the socket under the seat there, but really just to keep asking me over and over whether I thought the O2 didn’t have many acts on in August because people were away on their holidays. There’s only so many times you can say ‘Probably, but there are also a lot of music festivals on then as well’ without sounding as much like a stuck needle as she did.
Anyway, when Carol came out of the concert at long last, I wanted her to say that Keith hadn’t been anything special. But she couldn’t lie – he had been brilliant and a consummate professional, and I had missed a spectacular performance. All for the sake of having another look at a few trinkets that I probably wouldn’t have bought anyway.
Lesson learned? Probably not…
But should Keith Urban himself ever stumble across this, I’d just like to say how gutted I am that I didn’t get to see you, and how, since that night of abject failure on my part, I have promised myself that one day I most definitely WILL!