They’ve got seats, not like most of the other teenagers who are way down the front, having queued for hours to get the best standing places. The girl’s glad, because they’re all jumping up and down straight away and she knows that if she did that, her knees would go. It means they’re a bit to the side, but she can deal with that. She’s got her camera focused on the stage.
“Don’t take a video!” Bella says. On the train, she explained that the sort of people who take videos at gigs are sad: you go to the gig to watch it, not to film it for everyone else. But the girl disagrees. She’s filming bits of it so she can share it with her friends on YouTube. That’s what she does. She’s from the internet, she always says so.
She films the first song and then puts the camera away. It looks ridiculous, but she’s clipped the case around her waist. It’s so dark where they are that she can’t see the floor, though – if she puts it anywhere else she’ll never find it again.
Listening to CDs on repeat means she knows the words pretty well – except one song, close to the beginning. “I don’t know this one,” she shouts to Bella.
“How can you not know this one?”
“It’s not on the CDs!”
“It’s on Spotify!”
“I don’t have Spotify!” She left it when the new Spotify Free accounts came in because she listens to too much music for that to ever be enough, but is far too skint to pay for a subscription. Since then she’s migrated to Grooveshark, but doesn’t tend to use it to listen to Frank Turner. After all, she was pretty sure she owned all of his music already.
“I’d like you to welcome a very special guest to the stage,” Frank Turner says, and the audience cheers. They don’t even know who it is yet, but the girl’s got an inkling when he says, “They’ve been a massive influence on me musically and in every other way … please welcome MY MUM!”
And his mum walks out on stage. Anyone familiar with Frank Turner will know that his song ‘Father’s Day’ is about the realisation that his parents’ perfect marriage wasn’t actually so perfect, and in the same interview that he talked about this he talks about how his mum’s attitude to his music has changed. Previously, she’d disapproved. Now, he says, she walks into HMV and points at his CDs – that’s my son!
The girl knows this and she smiles as his mum comes on, because she looks like her own mum, in her red jumper and all. He hands her a harmonica and tells her how to play it, and she joins him in a song.
Bella leans over – “If Ben did that with mum, she’d flip.” Ben’s their brother.
But it seems Frank Turner’s not so different. “She’s going to kill me,” he says, as his mum takes a bow and walks off.
The gig seems over too quickly, even though the girl is hoarse from singing at the top of her range. She’s fine singing along normally, but loudly enough to make a difference somewhere this size? That’s impossible at the pitch his songs are for her and she has to go the octave up – and for a second alto, that’s a real pain.
Near the end, FT begins a song. She recognises the introduction, but knows it’s not one of his songs. So what can it be? She doesn’t really listen to anything else. She thinks, and as the first lyrics reach her from the audience who’ve cottoned a little more quickly, she knows – he’s covering one of the few other bands she’s ever liked, and singing ‘Somebody to Love’ by Queen.
It seems like that’s the end, but he’s back for an encore, and they’re singing some more. Down in the standing area, those dedicated enough to get there early are dancing around.
Then the lights go up, and it’s over. But the adventure of getting home is about to begin.
They took a long route round and lost the arena, walking around what seemed like most of Wembley before they got there, so they’re not sure how to get to the station once they’re out. The majority are moving in one direction, though, and they follow – it leads them straight to Wembley Park. That’s not the station they came to, but it has a Jubilee line to London Bridge.
She doesn’t mention it to her sister, but the girl’s wondering why they didn’t just do that on the way, instead of going to Baker Street, then Queen’s Park, then Wembley Central.
On the tube she sits and tries to work out which of their fellow travellers are coming from the gig. The two guys to Bella’s left are – that’s obvious. One’s got the Frank Turner Wembley t-shirt and they got on the train together. The one to her right did, too, but he’s less public about it. He’s carrying a rolled-up poster and the girl notices the colouring and knows it’s the one from the gig. Plus, he got on where they did, so it’s a logical conclusion to come to.
This entertains her until London Bridge, when they discover a train that’s going to where they need to go before too long. They wait on the platform. It’s cold enough that the girl puts her woolly pullover on under her hoodie – the leather jacket won’t fit over the top, but she wishes it would. When the train comes it’s pretty packed, and slow, stopping at all the stations it avoids during rush hour. But they’ll get home eventually. They’d been worried about missing the last train, as Bella’s only lived in Catford a week and doesn’t know the night buses.
When they get back to Bella’s place, after walking a considerable distance from the station, the girl’s too tired to do much more than have a glass of water and crawl into bed. She was going to put clean sheets on, as a friend of Bella’s was there the night before, but she hasn’t the energy. She pulls off her belt and climbs in, still wearing a hoodie, t-shirt, jeans and socks.
She doesn’t know it yet, but when she wakes up she’ll find her money and train ticket still in her pocket, leaving strange imprints on her leg.
She’ll wear the Frank Turner hoodie the whole way home.