Sunday, 16 May 2010

'You should never meet your idols'

A saying I've heard mentioned both on television and from the people around me several times in the last couple of weeks is that 'You should never meet your heroes'. This is because doing so will ultimately lead to disappointment once you realise that they are not the perfect person that you have built them up to be in your head. The fact that I have heard this saying so much recently is somewhat ironic, for on Saturday 15th May (yesterday as I write this), I got to meet my idol.

Chris Jericho: Known the world over for being the first ever Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion (beating wrestling legends The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the same night to become so), he is also a best-selling author, actor and television presenter. Everything the man touches turns to gold as his catchphrase of being 'The best in the world at what he does' seems to be true. Aside from wrestling though, his second greatest accolade is that of being the lead singer of Fozzy, a band that he co-founded with guitar-playing songwriter Rich 'The Duke' Ward. Fozzy have produced four albums over the last decade and have a great cult following the world over.

Earlier this year when their next UK tour was announced I knew straight away that I was going to have to go to a London gig. I had previously been to three Fozzy gigs in London, one of which I won tickets to back in 2005. So for this fourth Fozzy show I dragged Stacey along (bless her, she doesn't get their kind of music) and arranged to meet up with old friends Michelle and Si. Tickets for the tour as a whole sold extremely well, with their Nottingham and Glasgow dates having to be moved to bigger venues. In London, however they were running two shows in the same day, a matinee and an evening gig. We bought tickets to the matinee gig, which unfortunately for the band didn't sell too well, as the people flocked to get tickets to the night show, and also because the matinee was right at the same time as the FA Cup Final.

The poor ticket sales for the matinee meant that a week before the concerts it was announced that anyone attending the matinee show would be welcomed into a special meet 'n' greet with the band after the show. This was some of the most exciting news I had ever received as I would be meeting one of my favourite bands, and Chris Jericho, the guy that I've grown up watching on TV every week!

The gig itself was great as expected. The venue, The Relentless Garage in Islington was actually rather small, and was smaller than past venues that I'd seen Fozzy perform at. Part of this though is due to the fact that The Astoria on Tottenham Court Road has been knocked down since I last saw them play. The venue only made it to half full, which in a way was great for us fans, as we could all get close, have room to breathe, and gave the whole gig a much more intimate feel. We were treated to three support acts, each one being better than the last. The first support act was a band named Nightvision, who started their set seeming as if they would be a decent metal band, however, by the end of their half hour set, every song had sounded identical to the last. Next up was Halcion Way all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. They were all middle-aged and looked as if they belonged in the late 1970s or early 1980s with hair longer than my sister's. To be fair they were pretty good and I particularly enjoyed a couple of their songs, one of which I remember being called Lonely Road. The final support act was a band who I think were from Liverpool. They were called The Jokers and were fronted by a man who looked and acted like Will Ferrell, while their bassist wore a joker mask throughout (we even saw him still wearing the mask during Fozzy's set). These guys were indeed no jokers when it came to music though as they blew the rest of the support acts away with their great stage presence and good indie sound.

Fifteen minutes after The Jokers left the stage the lights went down as Queen's classic We Will Rock You began playing and Fozzy made their grand entrance, with Chris Jericho coming on last to a thunderous ovation. Their set featured a great mix of stuff from their new album (kicking off with the explosive Under Blackened Skies) and tracks from two of their past albums, Chasing the Grail and Happenstance. Their stage time was as expected after having seen Fozzy many times in the past, a good fun riot of a time, with the band making jokes and inciting the crowd to make noise and jump around between songs. Jericho even gave the crowd instructions to get involved with their track God Pounds His Nails.

When the show ended and the band left the stage, and the lights came up, we were left wondering if and how we got to meet them. After standing around for several minutes as the place cleared out, a security guard told everybody that it was time to leave. We headed out through the entrance way, past a door to a bar, where a girl gave us a picture of the band. We walked out of the venue and up the road until we realised that we must have been meant to meet them in the barroom. We turned around and went back, asking the bouncer on the door is we could get back in with our tickets to the show we had just seen. She let us through and we joined a queue to meet the band in the bar.

While in the queue, Michelle and Si were unfortunately mobbed by some drunken loony woman who wouldn't leave them alone. It even turned out that she came from near where they lived, and she kept telling them that they should keep in touch and meet up sometime. Stacey and I did what any good friends would do in an awkward situation such as this; we turned away, pretending we weren't with them, while snickering occasionally.

When we finally reached the front of the queue and made it through the door into the bar, we were told no autographs. We were basically to walk past and say 'hi' on our way out of the door. I decided that this wasn't good enough and the first band member that I happened to come across was musical genius Rich Ward. He was standing in front of the table that the rest of the band were sitting behind and was trying to shake hands with everybody he could. I approached him and gave him a hug, which he returned like an old friend. It was completely surreal, and he seemed genuinely pleased to be meeting fans and wanted to get involved. Despite venue staff trying to hurry everybody through I asked Rich if I could have a picture, to which he threw and arm around me and said 'Go for it!' Stacey took the picture as we posed together.

Rich 'The Duke' Ward poses with me

After shaking his hand and thanking him for the picture and signatures that he put upon my ticket and poster, I turn away from Rich to face the rest of the band who are behind a row of tables. I put my ticket and poster down on the table for them to sign as I shake hands with them and congratulate them on a great show, while they thank me for coming out. Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo taken with the other band members as a security guard began pushing me along. He was rushing us so much that I had to ask him to hold on as they were still signing my ticket.

From here I turn and reach the moment of truth. Time to meet Chris Jericho himself. I turn and stutter, trying to say 'Hi Chris'. Not only am I completely starstruck at this point, but also a little nervy at how pushy the venue security has been. I shake his hand as he signs my ticket and poster. I then pluck up the courage to ask him for a photo seeing as how this will most likely be my only shot to ever get one. He simply says that he doesn't think that we're allowed to do that, and says that 'we might get into trouble'. As he says this I have a complete moment of madness and every shy fibre of my being has seemingly disappeared. I say
'Rich took one with me' as I lean over the table, throw my arm around him and yell 'Stacey, take the picture!' She quickly takes it as I say thank you to Jericho, before we quickly leave the establishment. Michelle was also cheeky enough to get one taken with him by Si.

So there we have it, I met my idol. It certainly wasn't a bad experience, or in anyway disappointing. The simple fact of the matter was that it was too quick, as we were rushed through and out of the door within a matter a of seconds. Chris Jericho was a nice guy, who offered his hand out when we shook, and took the time to sign two items for me, only for me to completely invade his personal space and catch him off guard with a photo taken. If he even remembers me, he must think of me as being a proper nut job! I don't regret it one bit though, as I will probably never get the opportunity to meet him again, so picture proof was necessary according to the voices in my head at the time (although mainly for my sentimental keepsake). As for the rest of the band, they all seemed genuinely happy to try and mix with their fans, it was unfortunate that we were pushed past so quick. And Rich Ward is, simply put a top-class act!

I'll leave you now as this thing has been going on and on, and it's late! Until next time, here's my picture with Chris Jericho!

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