Dublin History Concert 19 July 1997
In my last year at school when I was 18 I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I always had an interest in catering so I went to catering college. In 1996, I heard the most wonderful news, Michael was on tour again, and he was coming back to Ireland. This time NOTHING would stop me from seeing him. Even though I had no access to the internet or other fans I couldn't wait to find out information and I made sure to listen to the radio for news on when the tickets would be on sale.
In catering collage you have to do summer work experience at a hotel. In 1997 my placement at a hotel for the summer started at the end of March. In the beginning of April I heard that the concerts tickets were going on sale. I made sure to book that day off and went home to my parent’s house. My parents live near a major shopping centre which has a Ticketmaster outlet. I decided I would have a better chance there of getting a ticket then of going to the main HMV shop in Dublin city centre, as back then before HMV sold online, people would queue outside HMV overnight for major concert tickets.
I arrived at the shopping centre at 6 am, as the tickets were going on sale at 9 am. I was right to go there as there were only about 10 people in the queue; I saw on TV later that day that were hundreds of people at the main HMV shop in the city centre. Anyway, I got my ticket, and I was shaking, finally after all these years I would actually see him. I went straight back to my parents house and asked them to put the ticket in their metal filing cabinet, with all their important documents. That ticket meant the world to me, and I wanted to make sure that it was safe, and as horrible as it sounds that if the house went on fire my concert ticket would be safe!!!!
I went back to work at the hotel and straight away asked to head chef for the weekend off in July to go to the concert. I asked for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday off as I wanted to get to the concert arena as early as I could, if not the night before!
That was in April, and I was given permission for the 3 days off. About 3 weeks before the concert, the head chef told me that I could only have 2 days off, the Saturday and the Sunday. OMG what could I do, why did something always happen to try to stop me seeing Michael!!
Well there was nothing I could do. My plans were totally messed up. My original plan was to go to my parent’s house on the Friday; collect my ticket and then very early on Saturday morning go to the arena.
What actually happened was that I had to go my parents house on the Saturday morning, get my ticket and then go to the arena. The journeys seemed to take much longer than usual, but I eventually made it to the arena around 9 am.
I walked into the arena and saw people queuing at the main gate so I went over and joined the queue. At first I was very overwhelmed. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by people who felt the same way as me about Michael. I made myself comfortable against the wall and just tried to take everything in. All around me I could hear bits of conversations about MICHAEL. After a few hours I slowly started talking to people near me. I just couldn't believe the ease and confidence in them as they talked about Michael. I found out that they were UK fans who had seen Michael a few days before at Wembley and and had traveled to Ireland just for this concert. They told me about the UK fan club they were members of, how this fan club was arranging trips to many of the concerts around Europe that summer. It was a whole new world to me. Suddenly I had found people like me, who were actually doing everything I always dreamed about.
As the hours went by, the excitement was building. The queue become longer and longer. As I was on my own, I had brought some food with me, but I didn't really feel hungry.
At about 3 pm, the atmosphere started changing. The queue became more squashed together, people started pushing forward. By 4 pm, it as getting very squashed, security started telling people to stop pushing as people up the front were very squashed.
Finally at 5 pm they opened the gates. It was insane. It didn't seem real, that I was actually going into the arena to see Michael. They let us in one by one, and as soon as everyone was through the ticket check , everyone was running to the stage. I don't really know how, but somehow I manged to propel myself forward. I had no idea where I was going, just following the line of people before me, trying to keep up and not fall or be pushed.
Suddenly I found myself at the stage. Out of breath and not really sure how I got there, I had made it, I was in the most wanted place, the front pit. I wasn't at the front, but about 4 rows from the front but it was good enough for me. To try to keep the crowd calm security told everyone to sit down. I was so glad, as by now I was shaking, in disbelief at where I found myself.
When I had calmed down, I started taking photos. I had been so scared about taking a camera with me, that I just took a cheap disposable camera.
After about an hour, the support act, a group called HUMAN NATURE came on. I don't really remember much about them.
Finally, the atmosphere changed, and Michael was about to come on stage.
It was the most amazing, spell binding few hours I have ever experienced. It was all just too much to take in. The noise, the screams, the lights, the music, the dancing... I just kept thinking, omg, he is here, in my home city after all these years of dreaming about him, I am actually seeing him in front of me on a stage.
Afterwards, I was just in a daze, the noise ringing in my ears. I couldn't believe what I just experienced, it didn't seem real but it was.
That summer of 1997 my life changed forever. Seeing Michael for the first time was a dream come true. I felt I was walking on air and I didn't understand yet that it was because of Michael.
When I went back to work everyone saw the change in me and they couldn't believe it. They knew I liked his music, I was always playing it but they didn't know how much he meant to me. One evening in the staff room after work some of my work colleagues suggested that I should join a fan club. Up until then I had always been wary of fan clubs, as my parents had always thought they were a waste of money.
A few months later when I was at home I was reading one of my favorite books about Michael called THE VISUAL DOCUMENTARY by Adrian Grant.
This is an amazing book, giving a day by day, year by year account of Michael’s life. I had first heard about Adrian a few years before when Smash Hits a British pop music magazine did a feature about him. As a result I knew that he was a genuine fan and was not just another journalist out to make money from a book about Michael. At the back of the book I found the address of the British fan club, MJ News International. I remember that was the fan club the fans I had talked to at the concert were members of. I decided to write to them, asking about membership.
To my surprise I got a very nice letter from a lady called Gloria Haydock who ran the club. The yearly membership wasn't too expensive and I decided to join. When I received the first magazine, I was jumping with joy, omg the magazine was amazing. Every moth I couldn't wait for the next edition. For the first time in my life I was able to see that how I felt about Michael was ok, and that many others felt the same.
In one issue they had a feature called YANA groups. This was an idea based on the song You Are Not Alone, to get fans who lived in the same city or town to meet up. In Ireland, as it is so small there was just an Irish group. I decided to send them a letter via the magazine, to see if there were many fans in Ireland.
To my surprise I found that they were a small group of about 5 or 6 fans who would meet up about once a month in Dublin. It was soo much fun to go to these meetings in the beginning. We would meet up usually on a Saturday and spend the afternoon talking about Michael, and going around the second hand music shops to see what we could find. We would then head to Burger king or MacDonald’s where everyone would show the group the latest item they had bought from the fan club or a rare item from their collection. We used to wear fedoras and Michael t-shirts and even though we got alot of strange reactions that was part of the fun.