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JLS at Utilita Arena

Accessibility Blog

Holly is a lover of pop music, beauty, fashion, and all the usual girly stuff. She currently splits her time between working as a Social Media Officer within the charity sector, writing articles for publications, doing a bit of radio presenting and creating content for her own blog. In my free time you can usually find her at a concert, spending too much time on the internet or reading a good book.

Holly is registered blind due to a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), and can only see light and dark so have no useful vision. 

She created the blog 'Life of a Blind Girl' in 2015 as a way of sharing her experiences of living with a vision impairment in a predominantly sighted world.

Pre-Event

With everything being thrown into disarray over the last 18 months or so, I was a bit nervous and sceptical about attending a concert again.

As I’d had this one booked since pre-pandemic times, I knew that I just had to go for it. It was to see my favourite boyband after all. The last time I saw them was at their final show at the O2 Arena in 2013, so this tour was a special one.

Myself and my friend Jess decided on the two shows we wanted to attend, and had to keep our fingers crossed that we could get tickets.

Booking Tickets

It has been 8 years since I last attended a concert at Utilita Arena Sheffield, so I was unsure on the process of booking accessible tickets. Luckily I didn’t have to worry as the process was quick and easy. Coincidentally, the last concert I attended at the arena was actually JLS, so it feels like it went full circle.

I called the booking line as soon as the tickets went on sale. Due to high demand, I wasn’t able to get through straight away so I kept trying. I knew that getting tickets for one of the UK’s biggest boybands wouldn’t be easy!

Thankfully I eventually managed to get through to the booking line. The agent I spoke to was very friendly and extremely helpful. She asked about my accessibility requirements and also described the location of the accessible seating options to me which was great.

In order for my free companion/personal assistant (PA) ticket to be approved, I had to provide proof of disability. It didn’t take long for the arena to accept my evidence and my booking was confirmed!

Overall, the process of booking accessible tickets at Utilita Arena Sheffield was quick and easy.

Due to the global pandemic, the tour understandably had to be rescheduled twice. As the final rescheduled date was drawing closer, I started to worry as I hadn’t received my tickets.

I contacted the box office at the arena, and they agreed to reprint and post my tickets out to me just in case they had somehow got lost in the post. As promised, the tickets arrived within a couple of days. Panic over!

Utilita Arena Sheffield has a detailed access guide on their website which provides information on booking accessible tickets, disabled parking, accessible seating, disabled toilets and much more.

The Concert

After waiting so long, it felt like the gig would never come around. Somehow, Thursday 28th October was here before I knew it!

I won’t lie, the thought of going to a concert again made me feel rather anxious.

I planned to get the train to Sheffield. It was the first time since 2019 that I would be getting assistance from staff at the stations, and was actually the first time that I’d used the new passenger assistance app. Both the thought of travelling and going to a gig after such a long time made me feel anxious, yet I’ve come to realise that these feelings are only natural.

After all the fun and games of the train journey, I arrived in Sheffield and met my friend Jess.

With a few hours to spare before the concert, we decided to get something to eat and headed to our hotel.

We made our way to the arena in plenty of time. Our tickets told us that we needed to go to the blue doors, however it wasn’t clear where this entrance was located. We overheard someone else asking a steward where the blue doors were, so we took this as a prompt and found our way.

After going through the security checks, our tickets were scanned and we made our way into the venue.

Our seats were located in block C. We had to make our way down a number of stairs in order to get to our assigned seating. I’d recommend checking about level access or location of lifts when booking if stairs are not ideal.

It wasn’t long before the support act came on stage. Cassa Jackson was their support act, someone I had never heard of before. Cassa put on a great performance. She kept the crowd hooked throughout her set.

At each gig throughout the tour, a DJ got the crowd ready for the show. Joining JLS at this show was DJ James Hall. He got the crowd jumping and singing away, ready for JLS! The atmosphere was buzzing.

It was just a matter of minutes until JLS took to the stage.

Before we knew it, the lights went down and the intro music started. The crowd erupted, and that’s when I knew my boys were back…

They opened their show with their hit The Club Is Alive, going into Do You Feel What I feel?

Emotions were high between both the fans and JLS themselves, each of the boys expressing how good it felt to be back on the stage performing again.

Hearing the whole crowd sing back the songs is one of my favourite things about a concert, it really is breath-taking. Hearing the crowd sing the much-loved hit One Shot was a reminder of how priceless those moments are.

They might have taken an 8-year break, yet somehow it was like they hadn’t been anywhere. After all this time, it was clear that performing and being on that stage was still natural to them. The boys also made references to the fact they hadn’t performed in 8 years.

The show was filled with some of their much-loved tracks including Take a Chance on Me, Eyes Wide Shut, Love You More, She Makes Me Wanna, and not forgetting their first ever single, Beat Again.

One segment of the show was a fan choice – whichever songs the arena shouted loudest for was the one they performed. They even picked one or two lucky fans to pick from a selection of songs. There was a choice of songs from each of their four albums.

They even took it right back to the beginning and performed If I Ever, which was their X Factor audition song back in 2008. What a throwback!

After performing Beat Again, JLS left the stage and the crowd went wild. They soon returned for an encore!

The songs that followed were Proud and Everybody in Love. During Proud, a compilation of significant moments from their lives appeared on a screen. I obviously couldn’t see this myself, but it was something the band discussed after, explaining how they couldn’t look at the screen during the performance as it made them emotional. As a blind fan, having this audible description from JLS helped me to understand what was going on.

A concert wouldn’t be complete without some new tracks would it?

JLS performed two tracks from their upcoming album, JLS 2.0. They treated fans to the first single Eternal Love, and another track titled Day One, referencing to the fans that had been there from the beginning.

They finished the show with what I would call their signature single, Everybody in Love. It wouldn’t be a JLS show without this one! It’s always a perfect ending.

Some of my favourite parts of the show included performances of One Shot, Love You More, Close to You, Proud and Everybody in Love. I also enjoyed the fan segment as well.

Like many concerts, the show was filled with their famous dance moves, bright lights and various effects. As a blind fan, I couldn’t see these aspects of the show, nevertheless, it was absolutely fantastic. The fact that I got to see a boyband that I have admired for so long up on that stage again after 8 years is something I will never forget. That beats the visual aspects of the show by far.

Overall, the process of booking accessible tickets at Utilita Arena Sheffield was easy. The access was really good.

JLS were amazing. If you ever get the chance to see them live then do it!

Courtsey of Holly from lifeofablindgirl.com