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It’s not every day that you can go and see old school friends play music in front of fans and TV cameras. But that day came yesterday, when I trundled along to watch Ghosts play at London’s Hospital club, a mysterious but fittingly white building in Covent Garden. The performance was being filmed for AOL Music, and only a few people were invited, which made it all the more enticing. I’d brought along Elli, who had know idea who Ghosts were and who i’d hoped to convert to a fan. We managed to meet in Leicester Square – despite the delayed trains doing all they could to ruin it – and I followed Elli the few hundred yards over to Covent Garden. I discovered, much to my annoyance, that it’s another area of London that’s actually quite nice. Dammit.
We arrived unfeasibly early, and sat in a nearby bar having a cocktail while the clock ticked round to 6.30. After we’d got in and had ourselves ticked off on the guest list, we were ushered to another room, which looked like an art gallery. On the walls were photographic portraits, and as we had time to kill we walked around looking for all the world like art connoisseurs. Gradually, the room filled up with people, and after we’d stared at the portraits for far too long we were taken through to the performance stage.
It was an almost entirely black, large room, with one side set up with microphones, speakers and instruments and the other with the lighting crew and a white line on the floor – which we were told to stand behind. Camera crews were swinging their large wheeled cameras around, practising for the main event. After a few sound checks and excited whoops from the crowd, the place went silent.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome… GHOSTS!” The small crowd erupted in claps and cheers, and then the moment I’d been eagerly waiting for – the members of Ghosts rocked up through the curtains at the back of the stage.
It was a strange feeling – these were guys I’d known for years, at least one of them since I was seven years old. Unlike everyone else in the crowd, I couldn’t picture them at all as pop stars – I still remember them on the sports field, or at the back of the class in lessons. And yet here they were, about to do something a lot of people dream of…
Simon and Robbie, the singer and bassist, seemed to notice me – standing head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd, bang in the middle, I was hard to miss I imagine. I was tempted to wave, but they all evidently had their hands full – and if they decided to wave back there’d probably have been a camera retake to deal with. I contented myself with giving them all knowing smiles and taking pictures (which are here) and a couple of rubbish videos when I could. (Seems another person in the crowd was busy with the camera trigger too).
After their seven song set – plus two more for retakes – the session was over. They then embarked on a meet and greet for the crowd, and I was going to slip away – eager to not appear like a groupie – until I caught the eye of Robbie. He greeted me with a big smile, talked about the success they were having and how exhausting it all was – they all looked knackered, having been in Paris that morning for promotion and flying back for this gig and two rehearsals in the afternoon. “Any groupies?”, I asked. “Not yet – but I’m working on it…” Robbie said with a knowing wink. I managed to catch up with all of them on the set, and hung around a bit to watch the fans asking for autographs taking pictures and telling Simon how many gigs they’d been to so far. The AOL cameras were still filming, taking it all in. It was a little surreal, and I could sense that all the band wanted to do was sit down and zone out after a long day. As Elli and I made our way through to leave, Simon told us to follow him upstairs. We ended up in their dressing room, complete a suitable enormous flat screen television – “we’ve no idea how to work it, it’s beyond me,” said Mark – sofas, a beer fridge and mirrored washbasins. And there we sat for about half an hour, reminiscing with them all. It was great to catch up with them, and also great to find that they haven’t changed a bit from the nice guys they always were…