Sunday july 25th 20ten, late afternoon
At 4:27 pm, finaly the redemtive message arrives. I answer in very tough: "We will be there".
The men decide to have something to eat at first. Les pains we bought on our way from Gourdon with somet jambon cru, saucisson, pâtés et fromages on the side. We have quite an elaborat diner at our terrace.
By five we keep the women company at the pool and try to relax by swimming a few tracs. About a year ago we did just the same in Montreux. What a royal life, a bit of swimming before attending a princeconcert. We don't want to be overley exited and making a fool of our selves attending the meet and greet, we don't want to come down as fanatics, so we have to keep our cool.
Half past five is time to shower en change clothes. We don't want to be late at our appointment. I don't have any idea how long it wil take to get there, let alone park the car en get to that invitation line.
Surprisingly we are there in ten minutes, I must have booked a hotel at the right side of Nice. A large parkinggarage is reserved for the concert, at een fee of 3 euro. You just have to be out of there within tree quarters of an hour after the concert. Not a big problem considering we might have something going on at night, we hope.
Leaving the parkinglot we don't see the Espace Nikaia immidiatly, so I ask a policemen. He just point to a big grey biulding just in front of us. I didn't know we were that close.
There are some queues, but I have no idea were we'e supposed to be, so I ask a security, again. It seems to be at the right side of the building, the whole way around. In the mean time I enjoy some 'dreamer', they are soundchecking. We find the counter with 'invitations' en see some security.
Suddenly I'm spoken to in French, Annie-Claire, the manager of the hotel we stay in, is here with her assistent, the girl who cleared the tables at breakfast.
"Eh bien? Je pensait que vous alliez backstage?"
Eh, yes, they will pick us up here, I suppose. You found someone to accompany you?
Yeah, but she doesn't know Prince.
There is such a living spieces on earth then? I'm totaly stupified. I'm about to sing some tunes, but Esmoreit prevents me just with his look.
Meanwhile I texted Tamara and Cristine that we are already there, and give them some directions. In a distance I see them getting trough the grounds, a wheelchair is a convenient landmark. By the four of us we can speak Dutch. They are from our neighborhood. Oost-Vlaanderen is in the house!
I buy two bottle of water, for 4 euro/half a liter you can quench your thirst. Kate and Grodon, the winners from the UK so us get around the weelchair, so the join in. We change to English. It's a bit much for Esmoreit, Dutch, French and English in just one conversation. He understands everything but everybody thinks it's also all in a days job for him, switching from one language to another.
We don't find the other two from Sweden. Some texting back and forth with Gav, and they seem te be just near us at the security. 'I don't have any problem, do you?' Tim seems to be quite a funny man. He's there with Mattias, the other winner of the MoQuakecontest. We are complete, and exchange our phonenumbers, we have to be organised once we get some news about an aftershow.
So we wait for Kiran. I don't even have a clue if we wait for a man or a woman, but Tamara is in the know. A former model, a role model?. What else could I have expected prince wanted for personal assistent. A charming beautiful lady waves at us. So a gangstergang is easy recognizable. Kiran proposus us to have some drinks first while the girl get ready.
She tells us they just finished soundchecking. The stage in in full sunlight and it's very hot up there, though work for the band.
We meet extensivly and Kiran realy makes an effort to pronounce 'Esmoreit' well. My son's name is not easy pronounceble in English. She's genuingly interested in where and how much we've seen Prince live. Numbers from 25 over 50 tot 85 (Tim) come by, but Esmoreit sets the record. ONCE. Seeing Prince live for the first time and getting a meet a greet after that, is bullseye! Kiran Tells us that she hasn't been working for Prince that long. She attended the concerts in Londen 2007 as a fan. After seeing one concert she only wanted to see more. We don't differ all that much, do we?
She tought Montreux was magical, so did Prince, she says, that's why he feels so sorry that the Geneva date was canceled.
we acclimatize in the anti-chamber before getting backstage:
Esmoreit, Christine, ik and Tamara
Gordon, Kate and Tim.
Kiran fetches some posters so the girls can autograph them, how thoughtful of her. She checkes if they are ready.
A very warm welcome overwhelms us. We are exentsivly introduced to Shelby Johnson, Liv Warfield and Elisa Fiorillo-Dease. All three they repeat our names, Tamara, Christine, Kate, Gordon, Mattias, Tim, Luc and euh Eis mho rait.They all do their best to pronouce 'Esmoreit', he's touched.
Treasures, those tree ladys. They offer us drinks, some fruits?
We all just stand there, feeling a little awkward, what do you tell them at such an accasion. Kiran propeses the sign the posters, they immidiatly get to their jobs. The run around barefoot, recovering from the shoes and high heels they wear on stage. Surely it's no problem to take pictures, of course not.
our angel with her gardian angel
There's some hilarity as Liv noted that Shelby has a matching 20ten dress. She stands up and poses with the poster. 'I have, I have! Take some pictures as proof and be sure I get them'. We oblige willingly. I want to point out that also the fruits are matching. Realy, every detail is looked after in the princecamp.
During the autograph sessions there's some time for small talk. We inform about the setlist for tonight, but they assure us that they only know what to sing once they get on stage, it'll be a surprise. The same thing for the aftershow.
The ask us if we heard the new CD 20ten. Yes? Everybody is very enthusiastic and the tree girls even more so. The say that often the backings nowadays are mixed to the background, but on this CD they get a leading role. The sing some songlines. When talk about Laydown, how we love that track, Shelby points to Liv, 'She's doing leads on that one!' She? No? As proof she sing the line. No doubt, it's her! They go mad! They sing everywhere. At the airport they get remarks, Who are those three fools? You just feel that singing is what they love the most.
Groupshots, no problem, they pose patiently with everone. Kiron goes to all the trouble of getting everybody the appropriate memory on his one camera.
During the photoshoot Shelby takes Esmoreit firmly in her arms. I'm impressed by the warm hearted Elisa. Liv suddenly yells out: 'I just added you on facebook' Elise looks at me, 'Me too!" With Shelby I'm friends for quite some time now on the social network. (Thanks again Bart)
Time flies and Kiran informs us that the band has to get ready for the gig. She'll bring us to our space at the stade. We extensivly say our goodbeyes and get kisses.
Leaving the room we pass the lobby where all the artist are. I push the door against Joshua the bassplayer, who is resting in the couch. I apologize, but he waves kindly at me. Frederic Yonnet recognizes Crhistine and Tamara and asks his wife to take some pictures. Whe he sees me taking a picture, he points the grisl at mee. Three smiling faces.
Back outside, a little lost. We don't know what came over us realy. We are impressed by the warm reception. Esmoreit summes it up quite nicely: 'It was common but very extraordenary at the same time'
Prince is surrounded by incredibly warm, carring, loving people. Maybe we are not as demanding as their boss, but ordinary people got very special for a moment.
Again special thanks to Gavin McLaughlin and MoQuake, Kiran Sharma, de tourmanager, the three fantastic singers and Prince for giving us this unforgettabke experience. Far did we know that the day had a lot more to offer.