It was a wet and dreary day in Grimsby.
No, they’re actually not all like that. It started bright and sunny. I popped off into town to have my eyes tested (no, not to be able to see the weather properly, thank you) and then we dropped our youngest off at her nanna’s for the day.
Because we were going on a road trip! Manchester, here we come!
But before I get to that, let’s take a moment to step back in time. Not too far back, but, without a big blue police box, we’ll do our best to return to a day in 2012
Now, music is a big thing in our house. Once or more of us is prone to bursting into song (badly in my case), or dance to something on the TV. Only the other day, my 10 year old and 2 year old were singing the songs from Disney’s Frozen, and acting them out. Whilst out driving somewhere, my 2 year old will ask for anything from Over the Rainbow to Cyndi Lauper to ACDC (one of her current favourites is Highway to Hell, which she’ll happily be air guitaring to). My 10 year old is much the same. My wife and I regularly go to concerts or The Yardbirds, our local rock club.
As such, it won’t be a surprise to tell you my wife was eager to see the film Rock of Ages. So, being the wonderful husband I am, I took her. At the beginnng, I was unsure. A bit too cheesy. It didn’t take long, however, for me to be swept up in the music, the comedy and the fact that Tom Cruise was actually decent in this. I took the gleeful burst of applause she gave at the end as a sign she’d enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, when it came to be attempting to get tickets for the actual stage show, I was disappointed to find it had closed. Ah, but it was on tour! Yay! Christmas was coming so tickets for the show would make a perfect present for my wife and ten year old. As the best venue for us was Manchester (Palace Theatre), that’s what I booked.
Only to find out, a couple of weeks later, it was coming to Hull. Manchester is 2½ hours away. Hull is less than 45 minutes.
Oh well. It would be a nice trip out, and we could grab something good to eat on the way. A proper night out.
My girls were overjoyed when they opened the present to find the tickets inside. None of us could wait.
So, tick, tick, BANG! And we’re back to last weekend. A dreary day that began quite pleasantly.
Manchester and Grimsby are virtually opposite sides of the country. There’s a pretty straight road (the M62) which stretches across and it’s one we’ve travelled many times to various concerts and shows (30 Seconds to Mars, Snow Patrol, Bon Jovi and more). It’s not an unpleasant drive. The scenery is beautiful – and we like the little house stuck firmly where it always has bene, causing the road to split around it. Yes, there’s roadworks. Yes, there’s 50 mph limits with average speed cameras. None of it matters. Only once, when we went to see Snow Patrol the first time (excellent, though the second time we saw them thye were amazing), was the weather really bad.
Saturday, the weather was bad again. It rained, heavily, for most of the way and when it didn’t, we were attacked by the spray from the cars on the wet roads. Not nice, indeed.
But we got there and it was in time for that nice bite to eat. There was only one choice for us, really. Nandos! Yum. The car park, Nandos and the Palace Theatre were only around the corner from each other (luckily because of the weather, which had reduced form an onslaught to a drizzle), so we made it to the theatre in good time.
Our seats were two rows from the front, next to the aisle, and were well worth the extra money they cost. We were in a prime place for the way the cast would come down to the front of the audience (singing to my daughter atone point), and the guy who was running along getting everyone to do a Mexican wave etc..
As for the show itself...?
Well, we we surprised, initially, to find it didn’t follow the film – or rather the film didn’t follow the show. We weren’t expecting that, thinking it was the one story. That didn’t matter though, it was still all great fun.
The band were brilliant, smashing through rock classics with the whole audience, more or less, singing along. The cast were excellent too. We were surprised (again) to see the lead was Noel Sullivan, whom we’d only seen fairly recently in Pricilla, Queen of the Desert. It was a dramatic change of character for him, but one he handled admirably, and proved he can definitely sing.
The rest of the cast were great too, including the scantily clad backing singers and dancers. In particular, Stephen Rahman-Hughes, who played Lonny and the NarratOR, shone. He was hilarious and had everyone laughing and genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself. Daniel Fletcher as Donnie Dupree was very good too, and came down to the audience throwing bits of silver foil about – and had a little battle with it with ym daughter.
Of course, when the finale of Journey’s Don’t Stop believing started, everyone was on their feet, clapping and singing, testament to the fact we weren’t the only ones having a great time.
I liked the various touches where the narrator would talk directly to the audience, for example with his Dummies book and when he spoke to Drew as Noel (named after Christmas). They added a quirkiness to a show that had already won us over easily.
We arrived home at around 1:30 am after leaving at just after 3 in the afternoon.
Was the journey worth it? You’d better believe it!