OK. Just back from the O2, and the last UK gig on Rush’s Time Machine Tour.
Before I go all negative, let me just say that it was another virtuoso performance by the band. Nothing they ever do is bad, and they are simply too good to allow mediocrity to creep in. The venue is huge (bigger than Birmingham’s NEC), and it was packed out. The sound was excellent – though a little drum-heavy (that’s because of one of the negative things I’ll get on to in a minute). The crowd was loud, though not especially animated. I think it’s fair to say that the Newcastle crowd beat everyone else hands down (with Manchester and Scotland close behind), and the Sheffield lot were the worst. But Rush played a perfect set each time.
So, the negative parts. My ticket man didn’t deliver this time – I only got my ticket this morning (by special delivery), and he told me yesterday that he couldn’t get anything decent. I had to go with a floor seat on the very last row of block C, and that’s why the sound was a bit bassy in my opinion.
Someone has already searched and found the blog on “sound problem at o2″: in all honesty, there wasn’t one. You aren’t going to get CD quality in a place like this – it was just the big sound/big venue thing you always get.
When I found out about my rubbish seat, I asked my agent what he thought I should be paying to a tout at the venue. That was when he warned me of the O2 policy on touting (I was likely to get thrown off the complex if I tried). And it’s true that there wasn’t anyone touting anywhere in sight. So I’d then decided to go straight to the box office and see if they had anything better. I got a seat about the same distance back, but on the first level – I reasoned that I’d see more if I was off the floor.
The seat was not bad (second one in off the aisle). The problem was the other people at the venue. Throughout the whole of the first half of the set, there was a constant stream of people going up and down the stairs (mainly women, it must be said). About half way through Set 1, some dickhead in the row I was in decided to go out and get a tray of chips (fries) and a burger. Dozens of people missed the first 4 or 5 songs, then came in with food. There is something inherently disturbing about people eating food at a gig – it just isn’t what you do. And the planks doing it are usually trying to juggle two pints of beer, a rucksack, and a carrier bag along with their chips or hot dog.
Then there was the standing problem. One of the benefits of sitting in the side seats is that the steep banking means you can see everything comfortably sitting down. You can’t jump around or anything, otherwise you risk breaking your neck (or end up getting a slap from someone if you fall into them (I pride myself in being of that level of tolerance at gigs), so there is absolutely no point standing up. So what did they all do? Stand up. Then, after a few songs, some sat down – but some didn’t, so the view was interrupted. THEN… when Freewill was played, a load more stood up again.
And all through this there were those bloody imbeciles going up and down the aisle.
Being so far back meant taking pictures was tricky. I had decided to concentrate on the lights, but every bloody time I tried to focus, some prat walked up or down the stairs. The guy next to me was getting pissed off with it as well. They simply ruined it.
I decided at the interval to go and try my other seat. As it happens, it was actually better – it turned out to be on the end, so I could see the stage and the lights very well.
The point is, I would have paid (actually, I DID pay – I need to talk to my ticket man about that) good money to get a front seat. And yet these were taken up by total tossers who obviously weren’t genuine fans. Most of them must have seen about 50-60% of the show at best. And they even started leaving before the encore started. At the other shows, no one moved until the final video had completed (the “I Love You Man” thing). Here, at least half the audience rushed for the exits.
Because of my crap position (I’d been no further back than six rows, and as close as three twice in all the other shows) – and the fact that getting an O2 ticket had proved difficult, even though I’d alerted my agent last November when the tour was announced – I was determined to hate the O2.
In fact it is a great venue. It’s just the people (and the fact that they get tickets when I can’t). It only took about two and a half hours to get from Nottingham via the A1 and M11 (no hold ups at all) – I’d forced the satnav to miss the M1, because I know what that’s like during the day. At the end, I drove straight out of the O2 car park and back on to the A102 without having to pause once – I’d made sure I was near the car park exit. I let the satnav take me back via the M25 and M1, and apart from a few stretches of reduced speed limits through the Blackwall Tunnel and on the motorways, there was no delay at all. Biggest problem was going down there – my satnav told me I had arrived at my destination while I was still in the Blackwall Tunnel, and I didn’t realise that it goes right under the O2 until I went back later and could see it!
Ironically, I got some of my best shots of Neil this time. My camera has 12x optical zoom, but this can be boosted with the digital zoom feature (which I thought I’d have a play with). The only problem is that you need a tripod above 12x, and I don’t think I’d have got one of those through the doors!
So, that’s it! The next step is the new album, Clockwork Angels, which we’re not likely to see until next year. Rush usually tour to promote new albums, but a world tour so soon after this one is unlikely – it’ll be North America. Now, there’s an idea…
And just a footnote… this particular post is getting a huge number of hits linking in from Power Windows and The National Midday Sun. I just want to remind everyone once again that Rush didn’t just play the O2 – they played equally brilliant gigs which I covered here (with much better photos, because I was closer to the stage, and in several cases a much better atmosphere from the fans’ perspective):
At some point I will add a gallery of some of the pictures I took. I got over 400 from most of the gigs.