Whoever said you should never meet your heroes clearly had the wrong heroes.
Yesterday – thanks to my baby sister, who now wins ‘Best Present’ for ever – I went to see Brandi Carlile at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. This is me freaking out when she told me (read bottom to top):
For those of you who don’t know who Brandi Carlile is (what are you doing? Get thee to YouTube RIGHT NOW!) suffice it to say that she is my favourite artist ever. The way I feel about her has been neatly summed up my another awesome lady, Emma Thompson, in the film Love Actually:
The next line is also brilliant; she describes Joni Mitchell as “the woman who taught your cold English wife how to feel”.
This is how I feel about Brandi Carlile.
So it was a good present from my sister, right? An early Christmas gift, during my current slump of job hunting and being a bit poor. But this is not how my sister ensured that I can never possibly top her in the gift-giving stakes, oh no. A few weeks later, she revealed the rest: she’d bought me a VIP pass, which includes a meet-and-greet with Brandi and the twins.
If my reaction to getting to see Brandi live was to freak out, my reaction to this news was… well.
Yup. A ‘Kristen Bell meeting a sloth’ level of freaking out.
Only once before had I met someone I admire even nearly this much (Dame Judi Dench; I was fifteen) and I was so awestruck I couldn’t really talk. Because of this, here are some legitimate concerns I had before meeting Brandi Carlile at the soundcheck for her Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig:
- I would not be able to say a single word and would instead stare creepily or just cry
- I would be unable to control the words that came out and would blurt out something inappropriate like “I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU AND I WANT TO GO WITH YOU EVERYWHERE AND HAVE YOUR BABIES AND NEVER LEAVE YOU” (not something most people are happy to hear from a stranger)
Fortunately, my sister knows me well and this is why she gave me a week to process the upcoming meeting! To be honest, it was fine once I just accepted that there was no whatsoever in hell or any other realm that I would be able to be cool or dignified. Once I’d embraced the role of fangirl and waved my last hint of dignity goodbye, I calmed down a fraction (only a fraction!) and I’m pleased to report that when I met this singular goddess, I was able to speak with her – using actual English words in an order that made sense -make acceptable responses to what she and the twins said, and smile for a picture or two.
AND, because this blog is my journal and I want to remember this experience for ever, I am going to relive it here. It is not deep thinking and probably not something that’s interesting to anyone outside of my immediate family but I DON’T CARE IT HAPPENED AND I NEED TO DOCUMENT IT.
This is my face when I realised that I’d accidentally got us to the venue just over an hour before I needed to be there:
This is my sister’s face when I admitted that I had freaked out and gotten us to the venue over an hour early:We sat in a pub and had a drink. I was not allowed more than a half pint of beer out of concern that the more alcohol I consumed, the higher the chances of me propositioning Brandi.
This is the soundcheck party – essentially, the VIPs got let in to watch the soundcheck, the technical rehearsal that happens before a live show in order to make sure the sound levels are right for everyone.It was like our own private gig before the gig – Brandi and the twins chatted with us, took requests, and sang to us. The ‘audience’ was one person deep!
This is a frame grab of that time Brandi and I had a moment – she serenaded me and we’re in love now.You’re all welcome to come to the wedding.
Side note: Brandi is one of the most generous performers I’ve ever seen live, in several ways, but the most interesting way is how she reacts to audiences filming and photographing her while she performs. At both live gigs I’ve seen, she makes a special effort to walk across the front of the stage, taking a few seconds to look right into the lens of each phone or camera she sees, to ensure that the fan has a really good picture or video. It’s such a thoughtful gesture, and takes nothing away from the rest of the audience. Anyway, that’s the story of how Brandi Carlile locked eyes with me and sang to me and we smiled at each other and now we’re in love. Obviously.
This is Brandi and I discussing how eye-rollingly common the name ‘Becky’ is over here. It’s just after Tim-or-Phil had complimented my hair and just before she asked me if I made music (and when I said yes, she commented, “Yes, you look like you do. What do you play?”).
This is Brandi signing the back of my VIP pass (Tim and Phil did, too) while I tell all three of them that they are phenomenal, and their harmonies are simply heartbreaking*.Later, I was glad I’d said this, despite it being a very uncool and potentially awkwardly intense thing to say at a meet and greet. Firstly, because it’s true – they’re phenomenal musicians, and they have a real gift with vocal harmonies, which is my particular musical love. But also because when they played this song, Brandi introduced it by telling us about how she and the twins bonded over three-part harmonies, and how they so weren’t cool when they started out. She described it as ‘telling the truth about our nerdy little band and our love for three part harmony, by making a song that is three part harmony all the way through’. Anyway, when I said what I said, she said thank you very much for saying so, and she looked me in the eye and sounded like she meant it at least!
This is me in a Brandi-and-The-Twins sandwich. See how my smile barely conceals how overwhelmed I am?!This is just after Brandi asked me where I live, and we chatted about London and how she doesn’t really know London geography, and I said “Well I know nothing about American geography, so!” and in response she told me I should come to the states; I’d fit right in. I think I managed to squeak out a “Thanks!” and not take it as a literal invitation to move in with her.
This is Brandi Carlile.
She is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. She makes the most incredible singing look completely effortless. She takes the truth of the emotions which are too deep and raw for you to name, and turns them into songs. She’s warm, and funny, and thoughtful, and kind, and brave.I love her. And true love lasts a lifetime.