If you have read my blog posts for a while then you will know that it’s no secret that I am a huge Shawn Mendes fan. I’ve been a fan of Shawn for years and his music has helped me through a lot, he’s one of my all-time favourite artists.
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I saw him live in 2017 at Manchester Arena with Elin and it was one of my favourite concerts that I’ve ever been to.
Last year, when Shawn announced a 2019 tour, I think that you can all guess that I instantly wanted to go.
When looking at the tour dates and location, I noticed that there was a VIP option, and two of the packages included a meet and greet. I spoke to Elin and after some consideration, we decided that we would try and purchase them. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity after all!
But little did I know how difficult it was going to be.
Myself and Elin decided that we were going to attend Shawn’s show at Manchester Arena on 7th April 2019 and hopefully try and get the VIP package if we could. We decided that we were going to go for the gold VIP package and hopefully be able to get our hands on it. We knew that they would sell out fast, so didn’t want to get our hopes up too much.
There was a pre-sale and also a general sale so we at least had two chances.
I contacted the arena a few days before the tickets went on sale to ask whether they were selling the VIP packages, and to ask whether they could provide us with assistance at the show and also throughout the VIP element as we are both blind.
Someone from the arena emailed me back with information on the VIP packages and told us that they would be able to book them for us if we called the accessibility line on the morning of the pre-sale, providing that we had a pre-sale code. They were also more than happy to offer us assistance as well which was fantastic.
I received my pre-sale codes the night before so was good to go.
Wednesday 16 May arrived which was pre-sale day! I called the accessibility line at Manchester Arena at exactly 10am. The arena gets you to leave a message with your contact details, information on the gig you would like to attend along with any special requirements and they call you back which I did.
I waited around an hour until someone from the arena called me back.
She informed me that they could not book the VIP tickets for us, they thought that they would be selling them but they weren’t. I don’t blame the arena at all as they were only going on information that they were given and they were as surprised as I was.
I was told to contact AXS as they were the ticketing company selling the VIP tickets to see what they could do. Our other option would have been to purchase them online, but we wouldn’t have known whether the seats would have been accessible for us until we had purchased them. The VIP packages were a lot of money, so we obviously didn’t want to risk that. The website wasn’t very screen-reader friendly either, which presented us with more issues.
I tweeted and emailed AXS and explained the situation to them, they tweeted me back and told me that I could only book the VIP tickets online which I said that I was unable to do for various reasons. They told me that there was nothing that they could do and that was the end of the conversation.
I didn’t think this was a satisfactory answer, so I decided to call them.
AXS have a premium rate number so after being on hold for 45 minutes, I was cut off. I also managed to find a standard rate number but no one answered the phone.
I called the arena back and explained that there was nothing that AXS could do, they told me that they would contact AXS themselves and pass my contact details on to them with my permission and they would hopefully contact me the following day.
On the Friday afternoon, I received a call from a lady who worked for AXS, I explained the situation to her and she said that she was going to try and get to the bottom of the problem and she said that she would contact me later that day. She called me again and told me that she had been unable to contact the promoters, however she was working at the weekend so would try again then and call me to tell me on Saturday. I did not hear from AXS on the Saturday as promised.
I decided that my other option was to contact the promoters. I spent the next few days doing a lot of research, and eventually found a telephone number so I called them to try and find out what was going on. The lady said that she would look into it for me. A couple of minutes later she called me back and said that two VIP packages had been put on hold for us, but they were trying to work out how we would pay for them. She told me not to worry and that someone would contact me as soon as possible. Obviously, myself and Elin were extremely happy, but I still felt like it wasn’t going to happen as I didn’t have any confirmation and we hadn’t paid for the tickets yet.
Nearly two weeks later I had still heard nothing, I kept calling the promoters and I kept getting told that the people who were dealing with it weren’t in the office, but I shouldn’t worry.
On the 5th June, I had a call from AXS, the lady informed me that she had been passed my details and had been asked to double check which VIP packages we wanted, and whether we wanted personal assistant tickets as well or not. As the arena said that they would be happy to assist us, we didn’t require personal assistant/companion tickets, so they wouldn’t be necessary on this occasion. I told her this information, and she said that she would go back to the promoters and inform them, then she would call me again to make payment.
A week later, I had another call from the same lady at AXS, she had been asked to check whether we wanted wheelchair spaces, or just accessible seating. I told her that we just needed accessible seating and yet again hoped that I would be able to pay for the tickets soon. The promoters had already been given this information several times, so I had no idea why they were unsure.
I didn’t hear anything after that for over two weeks. On Tuesday 26th June, I received a call from another person at AXS who said that she had been asked to call me so that I could pay for the VIP packages. She said that I had been allocated one VIP package and one personal assistant ticket, this wasn’t what I requested; I have lost count on the amount of times that I told them this.
She said that she would look into it again and then call me back. She called me back later on that day and I finally purchased them!
I then called Elin and screamed down the phone that we were meeting Shawn Mendes because know it has to be done right?
I can’t even explain the relief that I felt once I had finally purchased them for us. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and neither of us wanted to miss out because of our disability. I have discussed all of this in a lot more detail in a previous post if you are interested.
I do not blame the arena in any way, they were fantastic, but I do feel like ticketing companies and promoters need to put provisions in place for disabled fans. We want the same opportunities as everyone else, so there really should be an option for purchasing VIP disabled access tickets, just like there is when purchasing general admission tickets. Music is a lifeline for many of us, so we want the chance to meet our favourite bands and artists as well.
Before we knew it, 2019 was upon us and the concert was getting ever closer. Around 10 days before the concert, I started to worry as I hadn’t received our tickets. The week before the concert, I called AXS several times, once I was told that I didn’t choose to have them tracked (but I wasn’t given this option when I purchased them over the phone), I was also told that they had been put on Europe mail and not UK mail so had probably got lost, they agreed to put them on box office collection so that we could collect them from the arena.
Whilst all that was going on, I was contacting Manchester Arena to ask whether our assistance had been put in place which it had, the arena did everything they could to ensure that it was in place. On that side of things, I was extremely confident and felt like they had done everything that they could.
Sunday 7th April arrived and I woke up feeling extremely excited and also a bit nervous. I spent the morning getting ready, before heading to the station with my Mum and getting the train to Manchester. My Mum very kindly came with me and spent some time in Manchester with Elin’s Mum whilst we were at the concert, I am so grateful to her for doing that.
We soon arrived at Manchester Victoria Station and met Elin and her Mum. We hung around for a little while before making our way to the place where we had been told to meet the member of staff from the arena. A part of me was worrying that they wouldn’t turn up and we would be a bit stuck, but thankfully that wasn’t the case and they came a few minutes later.
We were met by a lovely lady who was a steward and also someone from the security team who was very friendly. They had already collected our tickets for us which was great, it was such a huge help. They didn’t have to do that but it was really nice that they had thought ahead and done so.
The VIP experience
We had to wait a little while before they took us up the steps and into the arena. Once we were inside, we showed our tickets and then went through security, we then checked into the VIP area where we were given our merchandise which was included in our VIP package, this included a signed tour poster, a lanyard, a tour passport, a light-up wristband, a light-up rose and a little rose badge. I think it’s great how the package included a range of merchandise.
Once all of the checking in process was completed, we went down to the VIP area. Whilst on our way, we actually met one of Shawn’s security who actually guided me towards the lift, he was really friendly and I thought that was really nice of him.
Once we were in the VIP area, we had to hand our bags/coats in whilst we were in the meet and greet part. Once we had done this, we then joined the queue to meet Shawn.
Whilst in the queue, the lovely lady assisting us described what it all looked like.
We waited quite a while in the queue and then were lead into the Shawn Access Museum, this was where some of Shawn’s accolades and things were, including his first ever guitar, and various things representing pinnacle moments in his career.
The museum was really visual but the lady described everything to us which was fantastic, I was able to picture it all in my head as she gave such detailed descriptions. She really tried her hardest to ensure that we didn’t miss out which really meant a lot.
At the exit of the museum was a curtain, when you walked through the curtain, there was the man himself, Mr Shawn Mendes!
As soon as I stepped into the room Shawn spoke to me straight away. He realised that I was blind because he said “if you walk straight ahead, you’ll walk straight into my arms”, I think my heart melted at that moment!
It was honestly so thoughtful of Shawn to say that and those words truly meant the world to me.
If you’re wondering, yes, I did walk straight into his arms and he then gave me the biggest hug. He asked how I was and then gave Elin a hug as well.
Once he had hugged both of us, he asked if we wanted a photo which we obviously said yes.
Shawn stood in the middle of us, he put his arms around both of us for the photo. The Photographer told us which way to look which was really helpful, knowing me I would have probably been looking the wrong way!
After the photo, he gave us both one last hug, I thanked him for everything and that was it, WE HAD JUST MET SHAWN MENDES!
I couldn’t believe that it had all happened. I had just met someone that I had looked up to for so long.
The meet and greet was really quick and seemed to be over in a flash but it was so worth it. Shawn is honestly the most genuine, down to Earth and the loveliest person, he also gives the best hugs!
Once the meet and greet was over, we made our way out, collected our bags and jackets and then was assisted to the room where the Q&A was taking place. The room was filled with large cushions on the floor that we sat on, it gave it quite a cosy vibe, there was also some good music playing as well.
The lady assisting us said that it was quite crowded at the front so suggested that we should sit at the back which we did, she said that Shawn would be directly in front of us anyway. We waited a little while, one of Shawn’s security did a little talk and then Shawn came in the room. Everyone cheered when he made his way to the front.
He told people to put their hand up if they wanted to ask a question and he would try and get through as many questions as possible. I really wanted to ask a question but I wouldn’t have known whether he was pointing at me or not, I’m sure he would have realised and done something so I should have just gone for it.
Nevertheless, it was really interesting to hear everyone’s questions and Shawn’s answers.
The Q&A seemed to fly by. When it finished, the lovely assistant came back to assist us. We had around 45 minutes to wait until the doors opened so the lady very kindly assisted us to the bar where we got a drink.
The staff in the bar were very friendly and more than happy to assist us. Before we knew it, our lovely assistant came back and she asked if we wanted to go to our seats or not, she was happy to come back if we didn’t want to. We were keen to get to our seats.
When inside the arena, she showed us to our seats, once we knew where they were, she showed us where the toilets and bar were in case we needed anything, she also introduced us to the steward on our block of seats and made sure that someone knew to assist us when the concert was over.
She went out of her way to help us, make sure that we could have the best time and that everything was in place for us.
After some orientation, she assisted us back to our seats and said goodbye to us.
At around 7:30, Alessia Cara came on stage. She performed some of her well-known songs and a couple of other tracks as well. She also performed the track ‘How Far I’ll go’ from the film Moana. My favourite performances were Scars to Your Beautiful and Growing Pains.
Alessia certainly didn’t disappoint, her set was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed it. She got the crowd really involved, everyone was singing along. She was really good live and her vocals were brilliant. She has some beautiful messages in her songs.
Alessia performed for around 40 minutes and went off stage at around 8:10pm, there was a 20-minute break before Shawn came on stage.
I can’t describe how excited I was for Shawn’s set, I was fully ready to sing my heart out to every single song and that’s exactly what I did.
Shawn opened his set by singing Lost In Japan which is a song from his latest album, he then followed this up with There’s Nothing Holding Me Back and Nervous. Honestly, the energy this guy has on stage is unreal,
I’ve never witnessed anything like it. His passion for music is clear to see and you can tell that he’s truly grateful to be on that stage performing to thousands of people. His vocals, stage presence, crowd interaction and set are something else!
One thing that makes Shawn’s set even more amazing is his band, they are a group of incredibly talented people.
The wristband and rose that we were given as part of our VIP package lit up during the show which really added something extra special to the whole thing.
Shawn performed a range of tracks, from his well-known singles, to some songs from all three albums.
However, he doesn’t just perform the songs, he always adds something a little bit different to them. He did a medley of A Little Too Much and Because I Had You which I loved.
I also really liked the interlude of I Know What You Did Last Summer which was performed in the middle of Stitches and Bad Reputation.
Shawn doesn’t just have one stage, oh no, he has two! It’s very difficult to know when to turn around when he goes onto the B stage which was behind us but it’s all part of the fun right? #BlindGirlProblems.
The acoustic songs that he performed on the B stage were incredible, his vocals blew me away.
It wouldn’t be a Shawn Mendes concert without him saying how much his fans mean to him, he is truly grateful to be doing what he loves and that’s one of the things I love about Shawn, he doesn’t take any of it for granted.
It’s such a magical moment when the crowd sings back the artists songs, I don’t think there was a song that we didn’t sing back to Shawn.
Towards the end of the set Shawn performed Youth, this song is all about all of the bad that’s going on in the world and the only thing that can conquer hate is love. The crowd singing that song was such a special moment.
He did a speech in the middle of the song which left me feeling very inspired but also rather emotional.
“No matter how old, no matter how young you are, you are the people who have the power to change the world for the better.” – Shawn Mendes
Shawn ended the set with a cover of Fix You by Coldplay and his single In My Blood, these songs fit perfectly together. His cover of Fix You definitely brought a tear to my eye and the crowd singing it back gave me goosebumps. It was the perfect way to end a show!
It was confetti central at the end of the concert, I was covered in it but what an amazing way to end an incredible night!
It’s pretty much impossible for me to pick a favourite moment, but some of my highlights were his performances of Bad Reputation, Never Be Alone, Like to Be You, Mutual, Fallin’ All in You and the Fix You/In My Blood medley.
Shawn thanked everyone for coming before going off stage.
Once the show finished, a member of staff came over to us. He asked if we were ok to wait until there was less of a crowd before he guided us out. We waited a few minutes and he then came back and guided us out of the arena and kindly took us to Victoria Station where we met up with our Mum’s.
I’ve put together some audio clips from the show, highlighting some of the best bits, it was very hard to decide which to put in! Feel free to check it out.
The assistance from the staff at Manchester Arena was faultless, they guided us throughout the VIP experience, too and from our seats and to the train station. There really is no other venue that offers assistance like Manchester Arena, more venues need to take note of what they’re doing because it is brilliant.
I am fully aware that this post is a bit like a book and it is far too long, thank you if you’ve read this far.
I love to share my experiences with you all, I treat my blog a bit like a diary sometimes. I also hope that it helps other disabled people as well, and gives them a bit of an idea of what it’s like to go to a concert when you have a disability, in my case a visual impairment. Most importantly, I want people to know that having a disability doesn’t have to stop you from doing this sort of thing and it doesn’t stop you from having the time of your life.
I have shared the highs and lows of the VIP experience from the stress of getting the tickets, to the incredible experience of meeting Shawn because I think more needs to be done so that disabled fans have equal access to these opportunities like everyone else.
We went through so much stress, upset and frustration to get them in the first place but it shouldn’t have been like that, procedures need to be put in place to ensure that disabled fans have these opportunities. I’m determined to raise awareness of this.
All that’s left for me to say is a few thank you’s.
Thank you to my Mum for coming to Manchester with me, she always supports me in everything that I do and encourages me to have these sort of opportunities.
Thank you to the staff at Manchester Arena for arranging our assistance and for providing us with amazing assistance at the concert. The staff that assisted us went above and beyond and I can’t thank them enough.
Thank you to Elin for sharing this experience with me and for having an absolute ball at the concert.
The biggest thank you goes to Shawn Mendes for making the experience one that I will remember forever, I will treasure the memories for years to come.
Thank you for making music that helps us when we need it most, thank you for always being yourself and for being determined to get to where you want to be in life. I cannot thank Shawn enough for everything!
Nothing beats having the time of your life at a concert and seeing one of your favourite artists live.
I feel beyond lucky to have had the chance to create memories that I will remember forever and had the chance to meet someone who I have been a fan of for years. Shawn’s music has really helped me and continues to do so. I still can’t believe it happened, it still feels so surreal!
The concert left me speechless and it’s a day that I will remember for the rest of my life, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I have never wanted to relive a concert so badly!
Have you ever met your favourite band/artist? If so, what was your experience like? Or have you ever seen Shawn live? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.