'As the small "friends and family" crowd gather when Blur take to their makeshift stage around eight-ish, more fans gather outside the museum's fence straining to peer in through the windows, catching the songs on the night breeze'.
Paul Stokes NME 27/06/09
That was us....The 13th June, our Nanna's 90th birthday, was a day that I will never forget. Having had a birthday lunch at the Angel Hotel in Bury St. Edmunds my brother Toby, my cousin Barney and I decided to take a trip back to Wakes Colne to soak up the atmosphere at Blur's first gig for 10 years, at the East Anglian Railway Museum Wakes Colne, near Colchester. Toby and I grew up in a house on that very same road, and it was where we first heard, and fell in love with Blur's music over 15 years ago. As we drove up the road to check out the situation at the museum, our hearts sank a bit as we saw people with neon yellow wristbands ambling happily down the road towards the pub. We didn't have tickets. After a few polite enquiries from some very nice official type people, we discovered what we already knew - there weren't any tickets available on the door. Feeling a little dejected but still determined to come back and listen to the gig from the outside later on, we headed down to the pub (to meet up with a friend of Toby's whom we'd seen when we arrived in the village).
Parking on the village green next to our old primary school, we went in and ordered drinks and a packet of crisps at the bar. I felt a bit jealous as we went out to join Toby's friend sitting in the courtyard. But as I sat down he said to me, 'You realize that they are in here don't you?' Blur were in the pub having dinner with their families. That was weird for me. The number of times I've been in that pub as a kid, I never would have thought that I would see my favourite band in there - it seemed quite incongruous. They looked really relaxed, and Alex was walking around grinning from ear to ear. As the start time of the gig approached, we were surprised to see Damon, Alex, Graham and Dave still in there until the last minute. As they left, we finished our drinks and headed up Station Road to listen.
It was a beautiful evening and as we heard the first chord of She's So High and the crowd's roar, we couldn't help but feel a surge of excitement and emotion. 'That's not a recording, that's real' Barney said. And it was. We ended up outside the fence listening to the gig with a few other fans and the sound was amazing. We'd been there for about 4 or 5 songs when suddenly one of Blur's entourage waved at us from the other side of the tracks. Then she said the magic words 'I've got some more tickets. I'm coming round'. We surged up the platform, and our hands shook as we attached our wrist bands. Running up the steps and across the railway bridge we were laughing, hardly able to believe our luck. And as the doors of the old railway shed opened and we heard the first few bars of Beetlebum we couldn't contain our joy....we were in!
The gig was amazing. They sounded great, and the energy in the room was electric. Popscene, Song 2, Coffee and TV, End of a Century... they kept them coming. Damon said that this would be the longest set they would play in the coming weeks. And as he waved to his dad, or shared a moment with Graham I felt almost tearful, they were just having fun. I got a couple of big smiles from Alex, and chants of 'We love you Dave!' carried over the buzz of an ecstatic crowd. But my best moment was when during Chemical World (I think - to be honest I can't remember much about that moment) I reached over and touched Damon's arm, and he grabbed my hand and held on to it. I felt his energy surging through my hand and, as the girls next to me screamed, I thought 'Wow this is the best gig I've ever been to!'
Whoever thought that the evening of my Nanna's 90th birthday could be so cool.