SATURDAY 07 APRIL 2012 was a special day for me as it was the first time I would see Cher Lloyd live and also begin my little ‘Sticks and Stones’ tour adventure!!!
My friend and former colleague Claire arrived somewhere around 6pm recognizing my pad from the Zippy from Rainbow Beany who had somehow ended up leering out of a front facing window! How had he got there? I had no idea? Nothing to do with me – I’m sure!?
So we set off. Freddy my ultra reliable, ultra forgiving Ford was how we were gonna get there and it’s only a short drive into Birmingham so wouldn’t take long and I’ve driven it tons of times before. I chose to park at Moat Lane Car Park as it was only a short walk to the HMV Institute in Digbeth from there! So we joined the back of the queue which was snaking its way back along Milk Street and waited, shuffling along until we got into the venue. Alongside the queue was what I didn’t know then (guessed it was but didn’t know for sure), but now know to be Cher Lloyd’s big green tour bus!
It didn’t take too long to get into the venue and just in time to see first support act ‘No Light’s at Lockdown’ finish their set! I think we saw the last 5 seconds of their set oops! So after a quick nip to the bar waited whilst 2nd support act SD Jem started their set. They were an enthusiastic brother and sister act who worked hard to whip up the crowd as best they could! I thought they were ok actually – and they were clearly enjoying themselves! Their music was kinda euro-centric-dancey-pop and they were clearly grateful to Cher for the opportunity she had given them by letting them join her on tour. Drawing the audience in with a “we say ‘Cher!’, you say ‘Lloyd'”!!!! I was shouting as loud as I could with everyone hoping Cher could hear from backstage lol!
Finally, came the moment I had waited ages for since getting the tickets back in November – as Cher would soon be on stage! The band were already out and beginning to play a long intro to ‘Dub on the track’. And then suddenly Cher appeared from behind a giant bobbly curtain on a raised platform behind the drumkit centre stage! The crowd was ecstatic and noisy – as don’t forget – this gig is in the West Midlands so very much Cher country ha ha!!!!
Cher looked amazingly wearing (TopShop?) black straw or felt pork pie hat over her long brunette locks, a small silver or grey top and a black sheer wrap over stripey shorts. She was also wearing a longer wrap or some kind of scarf perhaps too around her waist but she nonchalantly lobbed this into the crowd at the beginning of the set- miles away from me though! Cher was accompanied by 2 lively dancers and her band was all female. The drummer notably looked very happy and put loads into the set – and positively beamed throughout!
Cher ran thru first track ‘Dub on the Track’ and then onto ‘Grow Up’. The crowd was definitely really pro-Cher as we all were singing along – I was down in the stalls and about halfway back and looking up into the balcony could just see everyone singing along. ‘Twas fab!
The third song of the set was ‘Love me for me’ which was a new song to me back then. I just find it an immensely powerful song which Cher fills to the brim with power and emotion. Sometimes I’m still a little surprised ‘Love me for me’ didn’t make it onto ‘Sticks + Stones’ as it is certainly worthy of a place there. It didn’t but it did make it here so in a way, is still part of the ‘Sticks + Stones’ experience albeit live not recorded.
‘Love me for me’ is a song I think we all can relate to. I think it’s about starting out in new love but then reaching that point when it’s time to admit perhaps things aren’t as the given first impression portrayed them to be. It’s about reaching that point, stopping and saying actually here I am which makes it a very honest track. It’s that classic thing when, as you know, when we meet someone for the first time we’re always on our best behaviour but then, as time goes on the little cracks and blemishes come to the surface hee hee. But if you can get around these and take a person on emotionally and properly love them for everything they are then that love will (hopefully!) conquer all x That is what I think the song is about…
…Lyrically, it’s beautiful …
im done, i give up
i dont wanna pretend no more
thats it, so what
ive lost a friend before
gonna say it like it is
no more wondering what if
that aint the way you oughta live
cause i dont want you to love me
if you dont wanna love me for me…
It was lovely to hear ‘Love Me for Me’!
So on we go and the next song of Cher’s set which I was really happy to say was my fave ‘Sticks + Stones’ song – ‘Over the Moon’. However, just prior to the song, Cher did a sweet little talk explaining how she considered Birmingham her hometown gig of the tour. This because it was at XFactor auditions in Birmingham where it had all started Obviously, Malvern is fairly local and I think for these reasons among others, Cher just wanted it to be 100% and as spot on as it could be. To be performing in Birmingham was evidently very moving as Cher did have a little moment and there were a few tears – nothing over the top of course! Just a few – and I just guessed she was feeling overwhelmed! It was demonstrative of Cher’s nature and clearly, underneath the sometimes hard exterior it’s clear is someone with very deep feelings. Cher just came across as very human and very connectable.
I thought she handled all the emotion really well. And to me – it’s apparent that it all means something to her. I later learned there was some kind of equipment problem but I didn’t pick up on that at the time? Nothing new there huh – as most things usually go over my head and about a week later I’m like – “oh yeah… I geddit now”
… You know? Anyone would think I wasn’t paying attention!!!
But I was, I promise! And so back to the gig! As Cher quickly re-composed herself and as I said, ran thru ‘Over the Moon’ which is a delightful feel good song! Next was ‘Superhero’ which had a memorable dance routine during the chorus (fists held high like Superman flying)! After that Cher sang her 2nd UK single ‘With Ur Love’ – with everyone joining in really loudly especially on the “da da da-da dum dum, da dum dum” bits!!! Then followed the 2 thoughtful songs from ‘Sticks + Stones’; ‘End Up Here’ and ‘Beautiful People’… & omg ‘Beautiful People’ live was particularly special and sent shivers down my spine like the entire cast of Riverdance were performing an encore on my grave ha ha! It was at this moment when it became totally clear to me that Cher can totally cut it live – and omg can she sing!
Cher then paused the gig for a little chat with the crowd, asking if anyone was on Twitter and answering some questions people had tweeted her. Then one of the dancers held up an iPad and snapped Cher standing with the crowd behind with the photo been immediately tweeted too! Cher was really engaging during this part of the set and clearly has a sense of humour and likes to share a joke with the crowd. Cher just came across as really charming!
Next, was a section of cover versions as Cher ran through an acoustic version of Jason Derulo’s ‘Breathing’ – an enchanting and haunting rendition of Robyn’s ‘Dancing on my own’ (which stayed in my head for month’s afterwards!) – and also Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’. All these songs were performed so so well and fitted into the set perfectly.
Then began a dancy intro and I’m ‘like what’s this?’ – as straightaway I couldn’t place the song – I was jigging about then as the drumroll began I quickly realized just before the airhorns began what track it was. Of course! My favourite all time Cher Lloyd song and also her UK No.1 and first single – ‘Swagger Jagger’. It was fab to see/hear this song performed live with everyone (me included) shouting like a loon “U can’t stop looking at me, staring at me, be what I be ♥ u can’t stop looking at me so get out of my face!”.
I really really Love ‘Swagger Jagger’ so for me, that was really special! Next up was another lively one; ‘Playa Boi’ and I quickly realized Cher had run through each and every track of ‘Sticks + Stones’ bar one! Anyone who knows the album would know the remaining song couldn’t ever be missed though ha ha! But after ‘Play Boi’ was another treat as Cher performed a wonderful cover version of Usher’s OMG. Gave me goosebumps to hear! Fantastic!
And so finally, to the track off ‘Sticks + Stones’ not played yet – ‘Want U Back’ – which at the time, was Cher’s last single. I love the bratty, perky pop perfection of ‘Want U Back’ so it was an excellent track to close the set with. During the song, Cher thanked her band and her fans (it’s ok Cher – you are perfectly welcome!), and at the end of the song exited stage as the band played a long run out of the song!
Aw Thank you so much Cher – you played an absolute blinder – I knew at the time I was going on to see Cher on the last 3 night’s of the tour – at Nottingham, Swindon and at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London – with the last two dates been added on Cher’s sell out tour due to demand! Meantime, Cher would be playing to fans in London (indigO2), Bristol and Bournemouth x
So I had a fab time at the gig – as I say, it remains special to me for several reasons, some big some small. In no particular order these are; that it was the first Cher Lloyd gig I had ever been to, that it was in Birmingham which is MY home city – a place I dearly love and at a favourite venue – and also that is was so evidently special to Cher with her acknowledgement of Birmingham been the city where it all began with that famous XFactor audition!
The set was delightful- every song on ‘Sticks + Stones’ was performed and also were 4 cover versions and ‘Love Me for Me’ – 16 songs in all – in a set lasting about an hour! Also, of course, Cher had shone a light on 2 support acts and given them an opportunity to ‘shine’ as well! I beetled off into the night really really happy and really looking forward to Nottingham!!!
My Cher Lloyd ‘Want U Back’ poster bought from a street vendor after and outside the Birmingham gig x
CHER FACT!!! Cher’s Mom was in the crowd tonight – sitting up on the balcony with a great view of the stage! I couldn’t see as down in the stalls but it’s nice that she was there isn’t it!
Dub on the Track
Love Me for Me
Over the Moon
With Ur Love
End Up Here
Breathing (Jason Derulo cover)
Dancing on my Own (Robyn cover)
Complicated (Avril Lavigne cover)
OMG (Usher cover)
Want U Back