In the past few days I have revived my live music attendance, with two shows in very different experiences.
Firstly on Saturday, I was at the Libertines semi-triumphant return in London’s Hyde Park. I say semi-triumphant, as the environment was Apocalypse Now-ish in its disorganisation.
Let’s take it step by step. We (myself, my wife and a group of friends) arrived around 4pm during the set by Maximo Park, one of many bands on the bill who were past their heyday, but whose heyday produced a damn good album. They sounded ok, but we were in after visiting the opening of Beavertown brewery’s tap room and nature called. There were too few toilet facilities near the entrance meaning the hoardings became a public urinal. This is hard to stop and what security I did see were not moved to do anything either.
I’m not defending the Royal Parks despite my two half marathons in there, but this is easy to solve with more facilities.
Next we hit the bars, with thousands of others in an attempt to pay £5 for plastic glasses of Fosters. Hey at least the bars were accepting contact less cards and they put a queuing system in later, shame the organisers didn’t have the foresight to do this in advance and save a lot of aggrevation.
The food lines were long, and around the stage area, there were more toilet facilities but same story unfortunately.
Into the arena, and we found ourselves fairly centrally located with a decent view of the stage. However we were far from decent people – open use of drugs, people pissing and a huge fight which saw a member of our group caught up in it. Where were the security? Sadly absent.
The band themselves were actually very good. Considering they have not played together for the best part of 10 years, they sounded tight and well organised. What they could not prevent was the crowd surges and trouble which caused them to stop during two songs, as well as their support act The Pogues.
We stayed for most of it, but headed to the empty back of the arena and it got a bit more tolerable. The band finished sounding like the plug had been pulled, perhaps it was after naked people started climbing the speaker/delay towers.
All in all, not a pleasant experience. In fact, the most unpleasant since I went to Milton Keynes to see Eminem in 2003 and saw plastic bottle battles, still at least both Marshall didn’t get interrupted.
Moving on to the next live event three days later, and it could not have been different. An audience of metal fans of varying ages where the biggest grumble was the three-deep queue at Kentish Town’s Assembly House.
Extreme announced these shows, playing their second album, 1992’s Pornograffiti. An album-order and hits gig that lasted two hours? Thanks very much!
My wife and I ended up next to three mid 40s men who were not only entertaining company, but bought us beer – yes no fighting here but pure solid entertainment from the band and audience.
What is the answer? Only go to gigs that are indoors? Only see bands touring albums 20+ years old where the audience are there to listen and enjoy? Arguably yes. In the same way that I get annoyed at people who buy cinema tickets and then talk all the way through it, I don’t understand how you pay all that money for a concert ticket to cause aggro.
I don’t do drugs but am also not anti them, but it would be decent to know how to be sociable whilst under the influence.
Final word is for the organisers, just organise properly. You know who is coming and know how to prepare, it’s not rocket science, just organising a live event and there has not been any experiences like this in my previous experiences.
Mind you, it was bands performing 20+ year old albums.