For the third time this year I found myself at Murrayfield. Two gigs and one rugby match. I don’t know what was worse, watching Scotland getting beating by Italy in a matter of minutes or the two gigs.
The first gig, back in May was a truly bizarre mix of tribute bands: The Beatles, Abba, Queen and Led Zeppelin…that was 50% “ok” for me. Except that it wasn’t, Led Zeppelin (tribute) weren’t at all good and Queen (tribute) was recognisable, but nowhere near as good as One Night of Queen from 2006.
Today’s gig, Bryan Adams, should have been a “dead cert”. After all, I’d seen him live in 1991 at the Milton Keynes bowl (along with Thunder and three other metal acts that can’t have been that memorable). Sixteen years ago, he played to a full stadium, glorious sunshine. Today, he played to a pitch load of wet fans and some less wet fans in the lower east stand – no sign of the summer sunshine that we should have at this time of year. With the weather we’re having, anybody would think that we’ve done something to alter the weather over the last forty-fifty years.
After this disastrous gig, I have a number of recommendations:
1. Umbrellas should not be allowed. If the band don’t need them, why should you?
2. Camera ‘phones should be banned. It felt like everybody had one of these damn things, filming and photographing, all I could see was a huge array of 2″ screens. People: you are there for the gig – why spend half of the gig trying to get a handful of shots on a low-resolution camera? Not 10 years ago, cameras were banned at gigs, heavyweight bouncer-types would descend upon you and relieve you of your spool (film).
3. Open-air venues only work if the sound system is designed and installed by people who are expert at it. The sound system use at this event and the tribute acts was appalling. Unless you were close to the front at the centre, which was impossible for Silver ticket holders for reasons I will discuss in a moment, the sound was grossly unbalanced, tinny and very distant. I’d like to bet that Metallica at Wembley earlier this month sounded awesome…I won’t be missing my next opportunity to see them live. I was thwarted from getting to the gig because of the excessive cost of that “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” show in the West End – my missus wanted to go to that whilst I was getting a sore neck at the ‘tallica gig. I lost out because of the cost of some other show…how does that work? [rhetoric, of course]. I digress.
4. Scam 1. Never have seen a sizeable square shaped area in front of the main stage reserved for people who bought Gold or VIP tickets. That’s just extortion. I don’t believe for one minute that Bryan Adams would entertain scamming his true fans in this way. I believe that it was a venue scam, designed purely to raise more cash to compensate an ailing events business. With the exception of Yngwie Malmsteen (great video here), I’ve never attended a gig that wasn’t sold out…except at Murrayfield. Don’t scam fans.
5. Scam 2. Just after the ticket desk, there was a portacabin with a banner: “food/drink tokens, 3 for £10”. Naturally we challenged the vendor, “what, can’t we just pay with cash money?” I’m sure you can imagine the response: “no, but you can buy tokens inside, but there will be a queue”. So we bought a 9 tokens for £30. One token == one beer OR one item of food OR two soft drinks. Net result after we got home – three tokens left over. So the venue/event organisers scammed us out of an extra tenner. Well done. This act alone is enough to make me never attend a gig at your venue again. And since everything was served in plastic bottles, I do wonder what the plastic recycle policy is at such an event? Don’t scam fans.
[photo via here]
Oh, I almost forgot, the music. Adams did the right thing by opening the gig via the centre stage, as can be seen the photograph above. This meant that the Gold/VIPs folks got a raw deal. However it didn’t last, after a couple of tracks he retreated to the main stage, only to return to the centre stage for the third encore which saw him hand pick the local talent from the audience. Incidentally, the centre stage performance was much better than the main stage, even though the main stage speakers were still in use. Centre stage performances, a’la Def Leppard at the Glasgow SECC, are far better, giving the whole audience a sense of involvement – event organisers, please note.
I couldn’t help but notice what I thought was miming on more than one occasion, it turns out I wasn’t alone in my thoughts about this either. This was confirmed when I spotted Adams running from one side to the other, no microphone in sight, yet still the vocals could be heard…I got the impression that Adams’ primary guitarist (almost a look-a-like) was also chipping in as and when required. Summer of 69 arrived fairly early in the set…which was odd, perhaps because that was one of the few songs I was there for. Anyway, I put up with the rain, the idiots with umbrellas, the pratts with their camera ‘phones, the selfish fans who put their 5 foot tall offspring on their shoulders thus blocking the view for a lot of folks behind them, including my party.
Overall, Adams stage performance was pretty damn good given the weather. However, I don’t think those were his speakers of choice. The event sound did not fill much past the main stage and lacked any depth or power. The light show was basic, little use of the late evening darkness was made. That said, the centre stage lighting was reasonable.
So I’m sorry MurrayFieldLive, I won’t be back at a gig until things change for the better. The truth hurts, but honesty is my only excuse. I’m gonna get me some of those “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” icons from somewhere…