A fair few weeks ago I received an email inviting me to the First Direct arena in Leeds to see Steps. That would have been enough to sell it to me, but I was also told I would also be watching them from one of their VIP boxes as part of their fdvips events. Who doesn’t want to feel important for a night? I graciously accepted and sat in excitement waiting for the day to arrive! I have never had the privilege of using a box for any type of event, and I’ll admit I was really excited for it. There was no way I would be able to work out what to expect from the night, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying something right?
I met up with Bev, a fellow Sheffield blog, in Costa before the event. Although I’ve been to a fair few events where I didn’t know anyone, it is always good to see a friendly face. This was only my second time going to the First Direct Arena so I wasn’t really sure where I needed to go for the VIP entrance. We’d been sent a picture of what it looked like but me being me, I wasn’t wearing my glasses. As much as I like to claim I’m intelligent, I can also be a bit dense. It was a little reminder for me that my glasses are pretty essential. Luckily Bev noticed that there was a doorway where we didn’t already need tickets and we made a beeline for it.
The VIP lounge was very swanky, so much so that I didn’t think to take a photo of it! I think I may have been in too much awe of my surroundings. There was a full restaurant area as well as some basic seating and the bar. We had to wait a little until our box was ready for use so I went to the bar and grabbed a drink. I was anxious as to the price and normally I wouldn’t pay £3 for half pint of Dark Fruits cider but it was cheaper than I was imagining! I might need to be earning a lot more though if I want the VIP lifestyle more often! But it’s always good to treat yourself every now and then.
When everyone had arrived we were taken up to our box. We had to use a lift, that had someone manning it. Not something I expected to see, but it did add an extra touch of indulgence. It was only a short ride up before we walked to our box. I think there were around 10 – 14 of us in there but it didn’t feel cramped at all! There was a little table and a sofa that seated 4-5 people, some little stools and some bar stools. All-in-all, more than enough room for everyone!
In the room, were quite a few different bits and bobs of classic 90s pieces from trolls, to butterfly clips. Some of these may have ended up coming home with me, but who doesn’t want a few bits of 90s nostalgia? There were also sweets galore! I felt like I had stepped back in time and was 7 again. Honestly, being able to enjoy a night of nostalgia is something I always love!
As part of the event we were given food and drink. The food was mainly Mexican in origin, and I felt in my element! Mexican food is always going to put me in a good mood! The only thing I didn’t try was the pulled pork fajitas, and that is because I am not a huge fan of pork! The mixed bean chilli however, I could have eaten that all night. I definitely had a couple of portions of it, and would love to have the recipe for it. There were also a few pitchers of cocktails for us to enjoy! I allowed myself a couple of alcoholic ones as it was early, and I wouldn’t be driving until the end of the night!
Soon it was time for the first performance of the night. I have never heard of Max Restraino before, but he was pretty good. I’m not sure if he is the type of artist that I would usually listen to, or if I will listen to him again in future but he was very talented. He played the guitar, the piano and the saxophone as well as singing! If that’s not enough for a musician to make it than I don’t know what ever would be! Of his set I think I enjoyed the backing dances but for the wrong reasons. They were good dancers but unfortunately they didn’t seem to be in time with with each other. But I’m sure it’s something they will figure out!
There was a slight interlude for people to go and get additional drinks and head to the loo if they needed it before the support act started. I didn’t know who was playing on this tour until the morning of the concert. When I read that it was Vengaboys I was overjoyed! If you had told 7 year old Lauren that she would be able to see Steps and Vangaboys in concert one day she wouldn’t believe you. She definitely wouldn’t have believed you if you’d have told her it was as a VIP as well!
As soon as the music started, all the lyrics came back to me. Who’d have known that songs you’ve not heard in years would be recalled so quickly! I was in my element and so happy that I was given this chance to see them! One of the things that I especially enjoyed about their set, was how grateful they are to their fans. They constantly reiterated how they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people still wanting to see them. I think it also helped that their music is still so iconic! Who doesn’t want to get up and dance when “Boom Boom Boom Boom!!” comes on? I feel really grateful to have been able to see them perform live.
Next came the moment everyone had been waiting for, Steps! I can’t even begin to describe how I felt about it. There were far too many emotions going off, but I do know for sure that I had a great time. They all sounded so great, and you wouldn’t have believed that it was their 20th anniversary tour! How has it been that long? It makes me feel old! I liked that they mixed in their classics with the newer stuff from their new album from this year. I have to admit that I have not listened to any of their newer songs before! But I have been recently living in a Lin Manuel bubble! The amount of costume changes, and the exuberance with which they performed was amazing! They didn’t seem to look like they were getting tired despite the energy they were kicking out!
It was so much fun being able to see that they were enjoying themselves as well. I also get the feeling that with comeback artists they missed what they were doing. But being given the opportunity to make new music and tour again must be such a great feeling for them. They looked like a group of friends who were enjoying the moment. And if that’s not something for us all to aspire to in 20 years then I don’t know what is!
I’m so grateful for the invite to this event! I never thought I’d be able to be a VIP. But I had the full VIP treatment, and I’m now more determined to feel like that in future! However, if you bank with First Direct you might be able to experience it more frequently than me! The events they are currently holding are to promote the new VIP perks of banking with them. Everyone wants to feel like a VIP at some point in their life, but I wouldn’t have expected a bank to be one of the first to allow more people this feeling. You can read about how you can be a First Direct VIP on their new page here.
For anyone who has been on this tour, I hope you had as much fun as I did!
Hasta la fuego
*Disclaimer: the tickets, food and drinks (in the box) were provided to me for free. However all thoughts and opinions on the night are my own.