I have been a huge fan of John Owen Jones ever since I saw him as Jean Valjean in a touring production of Les Miserables in Manchester four years ago. I’ve seen the show a few times since then but he has remained my firm favourite. My already huge respect for him doubled in May when he stepped in at a Scott Alan gig and sang an extra song with no rehearsal whatsoever because another guest hadn’t turned up. So, when I saw that he’d be performing an intimate gig at the Hippodrome Casino, I knew I had to go.
I booked two seats in a “Beautiful Booth,” one each for me and my Mum, and I didn’t know at the time that these tickets also included a meet and greet session after the show, so not only would I be seeing him perform live, I’d also be meeting him afterwards. It’s safe to say that I was very excited and also a tad nervous!
Not only is John Owen Jones a ridiculously talented singer, he’s also very quick-witted and definitely more than a little bit mischievous. During one song there was a bit dramatic pause before the crescendo, and John used this time to take a huge, exaggerated drink from his water bottle, much to the bemusement of his band.
I was frequently left in awe by not only the sheer power of his voice but also the control he has over it, performing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s trickiest scores with no trouble whatsoever. The highlight of the show for me was, of course, Bring Him Home. I was instantly taken back to the Palace Theatre, Manchester, watching this amazing show for the first time. By the end of the song tears were rolling down my face and I definitely wasn’t the only one.
The interval was a tad surreal – I used some of the time to get to know Kirstie, the lovely lady who I knew from twitter but not personally. I had persuaded her (oops) to upgrade to a booth so she could sit with me and my Mum for the show and it was great to finally meet her in person (earlier that day I’d had a bit of a fright meeting someone from Twitter who was nothing at all like I’d imagined). I also went to the loo and, on the way back to my seat, realised that Elaine Paige was sat in the booth next to me. I used to spend every Sunday with my Grandparents and my Grandma would listen to Elaine Paige religiously – a trait she passed on to me. I nervously approached Elaine to ask for a picture and she pulled me into the seat next to her and gave me a huge hug – I nearly cried! Partly because I was so overwhelmed to be sat next to Elaine Paige and partly because the first thing I wanted to do was ring my Grandma and make her insanely jealous.
The second act passed by far too quickly and was followed by THREE encores including “Delilah” (John is Welsh after all) and a tricky little song called Minute Minuet that his pianist had bet him £10 he couldn’t sing live. John won.
After the show everyone in the booths was ushered over to a roped-off area at the other side of the casino bar. Everybody was looking around nervously and then all of a sudden John appeared – he’s very tall! Nobody wanted to be the first to approach him (I for one was glued to my seat with nerves) but my Mum decided it was my turn and, for the second time that day, I was dragged over to meet one of my heroes. I don’t know what I expected when I finally met John Owen Jones after four years, but I didn’t expect to talk about tattoos, Rock of Ages and Steel Panther! John is definitely one of the coolest people I have ever met and he was such a sweetheart, doing everything he could to make me feel at ease. As I tried to take a selfie and realised he was far too tall, he took my phone from me, rotated on the spot to find the best light and took a few pictures of us both. I was overwhelmed – I know they say never meet your heroes but I am so glad I finally had the chance to meet John and I am proud to call myself a fan of his.