This story has it all; a journey, a meeting, entertainment, tension, relief, wonderment, a farewell and another journey which results in our heroes returning to the place they started, but with their lives being ever so slightly changed.
The story shall be told from the point of view of one of our heroes – not both – and so the recollections of others may differ from this, the account which will be loosely labelled as ‘The Official Version’. If this epic saga were to be made into a film, this would be the unofficial ‘Book of the Film’, containing a series of grainy stills from the film, and some of the backstage shenanigans.
And so on with the actual story. As already mentioned, it involves a journey. This journey is not a particularly interesting one (our hero has done it many times before), nor is it fraught with danger, as so many journeys are in stories such as this. Our hero catches a bus from Ashford Bus Station, and promptly falls asleep for a large part of the journey, waking only as his bus approaches the very outskirts of London in time to see a series of unmarked police cars go flying past (not literally) in the opposite direction. Where are they going, he wonders briefly, and why are they in such a hurry? He soon forgets this, and looks at his watch. The bus is still on time.
After his bus arrives in London shortly after the hour of six o’clock in the evening. Our hero would like to throw cold water upon the idea that he would ever catch a bus that arrived at the end of a two-hour journey at six o’clock in the morning. He claims never to have heard anything so ridiculous. Upon arriving in London, he purchased one of the most expensive muffins in the history of civilisation, and proceeded to devour it as rapidly as he could. This should come as no surprise to those who know our hero, in fact, it is almost expected of him.
The meeting occurred soon after, so soon in fact that our hero was still brushing crumbs from his coat. As with all heroes, ours had a companion. This companion arrived on a bus from Leicester, and after a brief discussion, our two companions set off in search of Victoria train station. The search didn’t last long since both knew exactly where the aforementioned station was situated, and so they made their way directly there, pausing only to look and listen before safely crossing the road.
Once inside the station, they stopped briefly to purchase tickets for travel along the underground to the borough of Hammersmith. Through the barrier they went, brandishing their tickets like shields against the glare of the reflective-jacket-clad Underground employees, and boarded the underground train.
Upon arriving in Hammersmith, our two travellers strode out into the evening drizzle and looked around them. Our Kent-based hero was at a loss for a moment – this was not the Hammersmith he recognised from his visit in November (see ‘The Travels (in Constants) of Phil #4: Explosions In The Sky’) – indeed, he did not recognise it at all, save for the fact that it was as cold and miserable as before, though his razor-sharp intellect soon deduced that this was not a characteristic exclusive to Hammersmith. The two of them came to a decision, though history will not reveal if this was democratically decided, or whether fate intervened. Either way, they turned left, and strolled through the precipitation to a set of traffic lights. Whilst waiting for them to turn red, our brave adventurers looked both ways (as you should too!), and noticed, in the distance, a large building bearing the legend "Tonight: Sigur Ros". Guessing that they were moving in the right direction, they set off (as soon as it was safe to do so) in the direction of the aforementioned building.
As they drew closer to the large building, which by now was definitely the Hammersmith Apollo, they noticed a large queue forming. Being British to the core, they admired a good queue, and decided to do their best to enhance it, and set off in search of the end. Their search lasted longer than they expected, and they finally located the end of the queue a good two hundred yards away, round the corner and past a fair number of kebab shops. Much to their delight, the line moved rapidly forward, and it was not long before they had reached the door. Their tickets were scanned, and they proceeded on, into the vast interior of the Apollo. On the way to locating their seats, they investigated a merchandise stall, and were shocked by what they found. T-shirts, hand-printed (so the stall claimed), were £25. Shocked, our heroes beat a hasty retreat, checking their wallets hadn’t been surreptitiously removed, such seemed the stallholders’ desire for every last penny they could extract from passers-by.
Having found their seats, they sat down. Soon, the theater began to fill up, and by the time the opening act (a female instrumental group called Amiina) appeared, it was virtually full. Amiina were good in an edearing way. From where our heroes sat, they looked little more than children, though they were almost certainly grown women. After playing about half a dozen songs (one of which involved a saw, the first time either of our brave twosome had seen a saw played live) and plugging their E.P. in the cutest Scandanavian accent, they departed, leaving behind an air of anticipation.
Sigur Ros arrived at nine o’clock, just as they were supposed to (their punctuality caused them to rise even higher in the estimation of our main hero). Their opening two songs were taken straight from their latest album, "Takk…", and were performed behind a big screen, with the spotlights projecting the shadows of the band onto the screen, giving the impression that not only were there more people on stage than there actually were, but also that they were all in excess of eight feet tall. After the second song, the screen was lifted, and the gig proceeded along more normal lines. The other moment which caused our heroes to rub their eyes and pinch themselves to make sure they were not imagining things was the moment a complete, if somewhat scruffy, brass band strolled across the stage. The performance ended as dramatically as it started, with the screen descending as the band built to a crescendo playing ‘Untitled #8’ from ‘( )’, which they had dedicated to their lighting technicians whose last show this was.
Our hero and his companion left the Apollo, and strolled back to the Underground station, discussing what they had just witnessed. As they travelled, they decided to disembark at Victoria to get something to eat, before travelling on to their accomodation for the night, an old match factory in Bow which had been refurbished to provide housing for law students of a certian calibre. As they ate, several attempts were made to contact their host, though none were successful. What were our plucky heroes to do?! However, Lady Luck smiled upon them in their hour of need, and their calls were answered. Final arrangements were made, and they proceeded once more.
After leaving Bow Underground station, they proceeded down an almost deserted Bow high street and met their host upon a street corner (worry not, those of you who are a little perturbed by this revelation, their host was not the sort of person who regularly picked up guests on street corners). To the match factory they went, discussing the trials and tribulations of London life with their old friend.
Their host’s residence was a sight to behold! The living room stretched higher than the eye could see, and it was a masterpiece of residential conversion. After a brief conversation about the evening’s football, and debating the various merits of human rights law against corporate law, they all retired to bed, or in the case of our adventurers, the sofa and the floor.
As dawn broke, our heroes were still fast asleep. In fact, they remained this way until much later (about nine o’clock), at which point they rose, rather groggily, to find that they were under observation by their host and one of his flatmates. They left after a while, and made their way back to the Underground station, and from there to Victoria train station. Here they retraced their steps from the previous evening in reverse, and lurked around in Victoria Coach Station for a while, waiting for our hero’s bus to arrive. When it did arrive shortly before noon, he departed, leaving his companion behind to catch a coach of his own back to Leicester.
Edit: I finally…. sorry, our hero finally found some photos taken at the Hammersmith Apollo. These might or might not be from the night our hero and his companion were there since Sigur Ros played consecutive nights. Our hero hopes they are from the night he went. His companion has so far declined to comment.