He makes it a better world


Have been wanting to write a blog about the Chris de Burgh concert ever since we went on the 2nd of March – I mean FFS – The Man touched my hair!

No really he did. He was walking up the aisle – Lady in Red blaring and all these ladies in red kept leaping out and accosting him. I’d considered wearing something red but then thought that was beyond lame – so was secretly sniggering at all the dames in their fancy red dresses – thinking yah right – like that’s going to help. Hah! They knew something that I did not.

Let me back track a bit… Chris – my Chris that is – flipped open his cell phone one night just before Christmas, when we were parked off on our lovely bench outside, enjoying a glass of wine and trying to ignore the whine of those bastardly mozzies intent on chomping any exposed bits of flesh. He casually mentioned that he’d heard on Radio 702 on the way home that Chris de Burgh was coming to South Africa – did I want to go? Stupid question! Of course I wanted to go but what with us having boomerang kids, aged mothers and a new (old) house making us a tad financially challenged – no ways.

Let’s just have a look, he said… already looking.

Turned out that not only was there only going to be one concert in South Africa (at that stage –although he actually ended up having one in Cape Town too) but it was going to be right here in Pretoria at Menlyn Maine, Times Square – only ten minutes away from our house.

We looked at the prices… I havered – just long enough for Chris to pounce.  Come on, he said – it can be your Christmas, anniversary and birthday pressies all wrapped in one. I slugged down half a glass, mentally pulled up my big girl broekies and happily acquiesced.  We moved on to the seating plan… we had our pick of seats – within our price range that is.  Chris has been known, on the odd occasion, to get the front and the back of a venue mixed up before so we did some very careful checking before finally settling on seats on the aisle – in the middle of the stage – Block AA; Row MM; No’s 49 & 50. (Oh shit shit and double shit – I just hauled the tickets out of the bakkie next to my desk to check the numbers and dropped one of them into the dregs of my cup of coffee – frantic mopping up operation.)

I casually mentioned at the dinner table just a few nights before the event, that we were going to a Chris de Burgh concert. My 84 year old mom gasped and nearly choked on her supper. (Yes – okay – I’d felt bad that only Chris and I were going and we were not taking my mom, who is also a huge fan, so had not mentioned it at the time we’d booked).

Luan looked up from his dinner and said… Chris de WHO?

I snorted in disgust – the youth of today!

Quite funny actually – a few days before the concert I’d gotten new glasses – twice because the first time the frame had broken and I’d just received them for the second time. Thought briefly to myself as we were leaving for the concert, better wear my old glasses in case I get caught in a stampede and they fall off and get stomped.  We left early – as the official web page suggested we should do – in order to avoid any lengthy parking queue snafus.  I scanned the occupants of the cars surrounding us and screeched out laughing – caught in a stampede my ass – everybody was as old as we are – or older.

I have found in life, that getting wildly excited about something usually leads to intense disappointment – a bit of a jaded, somewhat cynical, outlook I know, but it works for me. The less I expect – the more I tend to enjoy an event or situation.

After parking, we wandered around the place and acquainted ourselves with what was where. We checked into the Arena and I splurged on a programme. We ambled downstairs and found our door. Then backtracked and went into the casino for an excruciatingly disgusting bite to eat.  One would think that all the restaurants in the place would be clued in as to when something exciting is happening in the arena and are, therefore, maybe somewhat prepared for an influx of people on a Friday night.

Not so.

Luckily we had ordered before the hordes arrived. We still waited 25 minutes and honestly, I think cold cardboard would have been warmer and more delicious.  I’d name and shame but can’t remember what the place is called – friendly staff but shite food – that sushi / burger joint on the ground floor. Chris had a beer, but I stuck to soda water – no ways was I going to risk falling asleep in the concert. (You laugh – I’m famous for falling asleep in important things… The Lion King, an Elton John Concert…) We choked down our unappetizing, rather revolting burgers and headed for the arena.

By now it was around 19h00. The concert was due to start at 20h00. Originally the tickets had said 20h30 but during the previous weeks, we’d had email notifications that this had changed.

We were led to our seats.

Hmmmm… my Chris pondered… are these really the seats we booked?

By then the usher had already moved on and the seat numbers clearly aligned to the numbers on the tickets. Stress levels kicked in. Was my lovely husband going to make a scene and demand that the right seating position be allocated to our tickets? Luckily he had his own slight doubts and kept his ponderings to himself. Secretly I knew they probably had stuffed up – seats do not go from 50 – 1 and then start on the other side at 51 – but I hugged that sneaky knowledge to my chest and declared myself perfectly happy with our places.

A group of people trouped in. They walked up and down a bit. Clearly confused as all hell. Turned out their entire row was missing – no Q. Fortunately for the event organizers – their blocks of seating had a little break between the A and the AA blocks and so they quietly, quickly and incredibly efficiently inserted an entire row with the minimum of fuss.  I briefly wondered if the people got a rebate because they were then sitting 9 rows further back.

I had been to a Chris de Burgh concert in a previous life… years ago  at the Spier, close to Stellenbosch. I’d booked the tickets – second row from the front – but it turned out we were seated right on the side behind an enormous speaker and could see almost diddly squat without dislocating our necks. The seating plan was very misleading.  I was beyond devastated because I’d had a choice of just about anywhere – could have sat a few rows back, right in the middle. It was winter and rather chilly in the amphitheater. After the show – which was seriously awesome (the Riding on a Rainbow tour in 1998) Chris de Burgh said He was going to have a shower – and never in his life before had he had to have a shower after a show… to warm up!  As we filed out of the venue I spotted the glass that he had been swigging water from during the show. My hand snaked out to pilfer the glass and to my eternal disgust, my (now ex) husband slapped it down and frowned at me. Nice people did not steal mega performer’s drinking glasses.  Who said I was a nice person?

So you can maybe understand why my Chris was feeling a bit dejected that we were once again stuck on the side of the stage and not in the middle where he had booked. But it did not matter in the least.

There was a buzz in the arena. Most of the people were obviously huge fans and greatly looking forward to the event. Having said that – I was totally gobsmacked that people had the audacity to arrive late (after 20h30 – yes – that’s when it finally did start) when the fabulous man himself was already on the stage – and still chattered loudly causing a huge disturbance getting to their seats in the middle of the row… prompting me to hiss shut the fuck up at them to my poor husband’s mortification. (Upon reflection – they had probably been waiting for their food!)

I was further outraged to notice (hard not to when they keep passing in your line of vision) that people came and went the entire performance, getting drinks and snacks from the stands outside. Seriously… is this the new norm at concerts? Can people not last for two hours without feeding their faces? How rude – to the artist and other people. I can remember when doors were locked and if you were late – tough shits – you missed the first act.

One of the things I love best about Chris de Burgh is that his songs have the most memorable lyrics. You can lose yourself in them. They are deep, meaningful and melodious. He cares about what is going on in the world and it shows in his music. “A Better World” – his current tour – consists of many songs that I had never heard before – and yet this did not diminish a single bit of enjoyment.

Yes – we all know that we adore it when well-loved songs are belted out at a concert and you can sing along –  your heart swelling with joy and feeling  like you want to bust because you are actually listening to the real person singing the song – LIVE!

He sang those too – lots of them.

So back to the beginning bit… Lady in Red was serenading from the speakers and Chris de Burgh left the stage and started bonding with his audience. He walked up the very same aisle we were sitting on, high-fiving people and shaking hands. Picking out ladies in red and giving hugs or twirling them in the aisle. Truly I am not one of those people that goes … pick me, pick me – but as he got level with my chair  – I was about to stick my hand out, when an elderly lady dressed in red dashed down from the side seats and accosted my man… which meant he had his back to me. My wicked twin sister’s hand snaked out and coochied him in the ribs (yeah yeah – over his jacket – which was sooo soft but I could still feel bod underneath) as he walked past me. The few seconds it took had me dying of mortification at my absolute cheek of pawing the poor dude – and also wondering if one of his bouncers was going to rap my knuckles and toss me out the door.

The next moment I felt my head being coochied back.

Holyfuckeroni! Sat still as a statue and blushed beetroot – luckily it was darkish. Then stole a look at my lovely husband sitting next to me…

YES! He affirmed with a not altogether friendly look on his face. IT WAS HIM… and I nearly bliksem’d him!

I giggled wildly – my head would never be the same again.

The concert was beyond fabulous and exceeded every single expectation but that magic touch was totally the cherry on the top. Did not wash my hair for days. Now – more than a month later, can still conjure up that feeling – light, warm fingers on that particular bit of my head. Igz, my daughter, googled and came up with some waffle about if a famous person you really like touches you – a bit of their magic rubs off. It sure felt like it.

Chris de Burgh is the utmost professional. Don’t think they make artists that perform and entertain like that anymore. Those people who scoff and say… Who? That old dude… can just feck right off because he is still a magical artist to watch and listen too. I’ve been a fan for more than 40 years – ever since we used to listen to Spanish Train in our back room in Malawi.  Can’t for one moment imagine that Justin Bieber fans will be saying the same in 40 years!

He entertained us on that stage for more than two hours, gave his band a break but he himself did not take one. He really looked like he  appreciated his adoring fans (of which there were many of varied ages) and finally ended his concert with a rousing rendition of Patricia the Stripper – which nearly had my husband creeping  under his seat because his usually well-behaved (okay – not always) wife was leaping around, bellowing out the words, along with everybody else.

The foreword of the programme reads like this: “Hello and welcome to the concert! The band and I are delighted to be here tonight to perform for you. We look forward to giving you the best show that we possibly can, with many of your favourite songs, and to you leaving the show happy! That’s my hope and our intention, now and always. Thank you for coming. Chris de Burgh

He certainly succeeded. I felt genuinely happy (okay – I’m mostly a happy person anyway – but this was an extra bubbly feeling floating around my system) for the next three days.

Thank you Chris de Burgh for the lovely concert and for performing from the heart. And a million thanks to my own Chris – for being such a lovely husband.

P.S.  You’ll be glad to note that vet-boy Luan (aged 22) now knows exactly who Chris de Burgh is and frequently plays his music whilst studying body bits and their ghastly Latin names on our bone-strewed dining room table!