I had it all worked out. I was going to get to the venue early. I was going to make the barrier for sure. I had phoned ahead and been told I could book into my hotel early. I arrived in Birmingham a little ahead of schedule, and then – I got all turned around in the damn Pallisades and somehow ended up at the Bull Ring, which, as it turned out was exactly where I needed to be, but I only knew my bearings from New Street.

I wandered around aimlessly in Birmingham, land of no obvious street signs, looking for my hotel until I found myself back at New Street and jumped into a cab. I checked into my hotel fairly seamlessly, gave my phone a little more juice, freshened up, checked the route from hotel to venue, which looked pretty simple, and set off again.

Simple? No, once again, the land of no street signs, one way systems and subways beat me and I ended up losing another half an hour wandering around Birmingham until I found a cab stand and took that route again.

BrandonAs I arrived at the venue I saw Lindi and Rachel arriving also, and, despite my later-than hoped for arrival, I had a pretty good spot in the queue. I met up with the lovely Alice and we chatted with the other good folks around us, noticed the epic fail outside the venue (see picture), and then headed round of the back for the ritual greeting of Brandon.

BrandonHe came off the bus all smiles and again went down the line shaking hands as Jeremy gave his usual line that he would be out later to sign. This time I was ready with my camera and got a great pic of Brandon meeting his youngest fan.

We hung around the back for a while and listened to the soundcheck and then waited on the chance of Brandon coming back out again. There were a whole lot of people out there, and I was convinced Brandon would just be sneaked out of a quiet door again, like at Leeds, but it was fun chatting with some of the band members and crew, and other victims too.

Sideline here, there are three venues at the Birmingham O2 Academy, Brandon was in 1, and then there were two folks I’d never heard of (bad music fan) occupying the venues 2 & 3. Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars. Bruno Mars happened to have the number single that week and there were a lot of Bruno fan girls mixed up with the Brandon fangirls (and some who were both). This lead to some hilarious confusion where one set of screaming fan girls would run to one end of the venue, hearing that their boy had emerged, who would set off the other set of fan girls, who then thought it was an appearance by their boy. Then the whole thing would start off again in the other direction. Good times.

With all this going on, it wasn’t at all surprising that we saw Jeremy’s head poke round a door away from the crowds and shortly after Brandon emerge and disappear into a waiting taxi.

By this time the queue had moved and we were in the 02 Priority queue. There were three other separate queues. Those that had been waiting the longest were told they could continue to wait in the 02 queue even if they weren’t on 02, but that the doors for all queues (normal, balcony and ticket collection) would open at the same time. We all pretty much decided to stay where we were, as there were only maybe 10-15 people in that queue, and while all the doors were opening at the same time, the 02 priority door was nearer to the stage.

With a quick break to visit the Bull Ring toilets, where we ran (literally) into Jake and Matt on the way back, the rest of the day was spent queueing and soon it was time for doors opening, which they did, with disastrous results for those of us who had waited longest. The scanners weren’t working on our door and the people at the other doors (who hadn’t waited nearly as long) were allowed in first. Eventually they just let us in without scanning as I think they started to fear for their lives, so once again I missed out on my barrier spot and ended up in second row.

BrandonI was almost direct centre though, and while you would think this was a good view, Brandon does tend to sing to his left and also, to be fair, he ain’t much broader than the microphone stand, so when he was stood at it I had a slightly obscured view. It was nice to see the backing singers though and get a view from a different angle for a change.

BrandonIt’s really hard for me to decide on this or Brixton being my favourite performance. Brandon was in high spirits, full of smiles and bouncing all over the stage, it was a flawless performance and he was obviously feeling very comfortable and happy up there. The crowd gave back in spades, we all bounced off each other (sometimes literally) and the night was full of energy. I think the band is amping it up a little more with every show, it certainly felt a lot harder edged than the previous three shows I had seen. Maybe it’s that they’re growing in confidence, or becoming tighter as a band, whatever it is they’re doing, if it keeps up, by the end of the tour you Americans are gonna have your minds blown.

BrandonBrandon finished on a high, ending the acoustic When You Were Young sing-a-long with the words “I love you people” before leaving the stage.

Once more out into the cold, my friends, once more. At the back of the venue, I met up with Hailey and we once more started our vigil and tried to avoid the hysterically screaming Bruno Mars fans who were crowding around his bus and being very, very loud. This all lead to more Brandon/Bruno confusion, which to be honest, was all getting a little old by this point. Security soon came out and moved people away from the bus, creating a gap between the stage door and the bus door, and the rain started to come down. Undeterred the increasingly large crowd gathered and eventually Brandon came out.

We stayed well back as the excitable mob pressed against the security guards trying to get to Brandon, with cries of “Brandon, please, Brandon”. Despite the rain, Brandon stayed out for several minutes at both ends of the crowd signing as much as he could, then he fled to the safety and cover of the bus.

We decided to hold out for another, later emergence, mainly because I wanted to try and get a decent photo, and maybe say those things that I was too much in shock to say at Manchester.

While the rain and Brandon getting on the bus saw a good many people off, a braying mob stayed around the bus and pretty soon they became impatient, chanting Brandon’s name, banging on the bus, peering in and even trying to take photos though the bus windows. By this time we had already moved off to shelter from the rain and also to be a comfortable distance away from the bus. In Manchester the bus had been in a small parking area, a little way away from the road and the pavement. Here the bus was parked on the roadside, I felt uncomfortable being so close to what is essentially the band and crew’s home.

I thought the crowd in Leeds were bad, but at least I could in part understand their behaviour. Excitement can get the better of you. But banging on the bus? Peering through the windows? What exactly is this going to achieve? If someone bangs on your door and peers through your window in the middle of the night do you come out and take pictures with them? No, you call the police.

Shamefully, this behaviour wasn’t even limited to teenage girls, there was at least one grown man there. At this point, we were really just waiting for the rain to subside before we left, even if Brandon had come out, which we thought was highly unlikely, we didn’t want to be associated with these morons.

Eventually the driver came out and yelled at them all, and Torey came out to see what was going on. We were quite relieved that Torey had come out and seen that we were weren’t involved, but even so, we were ready to leave. A little later on, after most of those idiots had gone, Torey and Jake came out for a smoke, I approached them and apologised for the behavior they had had to put up with. They were really cool about it and shrugged it off saying they were used to it and they knew it was only a few people out of so many fans. It’s really not something you should have to get used to.

Shortly after this the rain subsided and we took the opportunity to leave, a few people remained, as doggedly determined as we had been in Manchester, I really hope they got their opportunity, but I haven’t heard anything about it.

It was another sad end to a brilliant night. I know I’ve talked about this a lot, but I have waited around the back to meet bands at a lot of gigs and I have never experienced this kind of behaviour, this kind of disrespect of the person that you are supposed to admire.

I’ve seen a few negative comments about Brandon not coming out to see the waiting fans, but really after the sort of behaviour he seems to have to put up with on a regular basis, is anyone surprised? I’m all for people giving back to their fans, I think it’s really important that they do, but they need to be able to do so in an environment that is safe and comfortable for them.

The Killers give back already, they have a fan club that not only provides a lovely community, but gives us special extras and little personal touches I’ve not seen elsewhere (though I don’t doubt they exist).

In my limited experience of Brandon, I feel that he (keeper of Morrisey’s tea cup) understands what it means to people to have a moment, take a picture, get an autograph, steal a tea cup, and, while he isn’t really comfortable with off stage encounters, he wants to give people those moments. I really hope that by the time he resumes his tour next month, those few people that ruin those moments for others, have learned it gets them nowhere.

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