We went to see Tinchy Stryder at UEA on Friday night. Jack normally sorts out the guest list but this time due to some misunderstandings we weren’t on it so he upgraded us to the triple AAA – Access All Areas – which was very hip, or not, with the dressing rooms being a warren of sixties offices above the Lower Common Room. We went upstairs to say Hi to Tinchy and the boys where Ben the Hat rather uncooly leapt straight in with requests for signatures for work colleagues children’s birthdays. I must say, Tinchy delivered with great forbearance and sang froid considering it was only ten minutes to the off. Soon after the autographing we were asked to clear the area as the performers were about to get changed for onstage. Considering they all wear their strides in the manner that allows you to see the whole of their underpants anyway I could not quite see the logic of this.
It was a great gig, Tinchy has had two number ones now so the weight of anticipation in the house is large. We stood side-stage and watched the whole thing. It’s a rather beautiful, privileged position. Tinchy comes off a couple of times to change a shirt and out in the wings he cross himself before he goes back on, a detail that Ben the Hat, being very devout, loved. For myself I was most absorbed with watching the faces of those in the front rows. They are young, both male and female (though more girls) and rapt in adoration; they constantly hold their hands out to be touched by their hero. When the connection is made, it completes the experience for them. The last thing Tinchy did before leaving the stage for the final time – with the words ‘One Love’ and ‘Flee!’ – was to touch his fist against the fist of one boy who had had his hand stretched forwards throughout the two encore songs, in the gesture that says ‘Respect.’ As Tinchy took his towel and disappeared my gaze returned to the boy who had been touched; I cannot imagine anyone looking happier at such a simple transaction.