Our exclusive tickets to this glamorous event lead us to a ‘special’ queue to wait – over an hour – for wristbands. Wristbands as glam as the event itself, fluorescent green plastic with the words ‘PIT STANDING’. My sister and I stood in the cold, without jackets as we’d been informed there was no cloakroom, dressed in what we hoped would pass as ‘Sexy Funky Trendy’ which the e-tickets had stressed was vital in order to gain entry. After being branded with wristbands we had to get a coach, despite only being a road away from Earls Court, and once boarded were told we’d have to wait an hour and a half on the coach; after our transfer to the venue we queued for another hour and a half.
Finally we were allowed into the arena. The celebrity guests were already seated at their tables and our eyes were involuntarily scanning the tables we could see at the front, spotting the likes of Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Standing down in the pit in front of the stage must have been what it was like for theatre-going groundlings in Shakespeare’s time, being overlooked by the wealthy and well-to-do. Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding, at one of the front tables, was constantly standing up and trying to get a reaction from fans standing in the pit; she seemed pretty wasted.
We positioned ourselves right at the front. An irritating warm-up guy who was way too enthusiastic came on, skipping around the stage and getting us groundlings to practise looking like we were having the time of our lives, forcing us to jump up and down to ‘Put your hands up for Detroit’ and other snippets of aural torture.
Finally it was eight o’clock. I was thankful as my ‘Sexy Funky Trendy’ effing shoes that had already clocked up about four hours of queuing were now beginning to seriously hurt. The atmosphere was pretty electric when there was a dramatic countdown and then U2 exploded onstage with ‘Get On Your Boots’. I’m not a massive fan of the Bono but I did enjoy hearing their track live. When it finished, heads turned to the right when Kylie and fellow hosts James Corden and Matthew Horne appeared. It seemed a little too painfully scripted and cringingly awkward between the hosts at times. Being able to turn around and read the autocue reinforced how fabricated this sort of event is, and how little talent is actually required.
It was interesting to watch those celebs who were presenting awards, when the camera was not on them and a reel of nominees was being broadcasted. Blur bassist Alex James was looking particularly bewildered. It was clear he was intoxicated with something when he walked onstage and started speaking into the award rather than the microphone. When Duffy was accepting her Best British Breakthrough award, Alex was stood at the side, pulling faces a baby might make if you fed it a spoonful of sherbet mixed with salt, although it appeared he was not aware he was doing so.
Everyone went crazy for Kings of Leon who were incredible, as expected, but my favourite performance was probably Coldplay’s. I don’t know if it really came down to their slickness and Chris Martin’s great stage presence or because of the sea of red, white and blue sugar paper butterflies that poured from the ceiling. It did actually feel quite claustrophobic as they were relentlessly falling, many going down the front of my dress which I had to fish out in a ladylike manner, but it made everyone happy, even if it was hard to see and breathe.
The excitement in the arena had died down by the time the Pet Shop Boys, winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award, came on to perform a medley of their songs. A lot of the younger audience members seemed to disperse and many left early, before their set had finished. Even X Factor winner Alexandra Burke caught my eye as she left halfway through their set.
It was interesting to see what was going on out of the camera shot, and the things that would be edited out in the slightly delayed broadcasted version such as Katie Perry’s “Holy shit!” But whilst it was fun to be there, it completely unglamourised the whole ceremony for me and I’m glad the tickets were free.
– Tash Jaeger