Golden (vicious) Circles 10/07/2008
Bit of a trivial one this week but hey, it usually sparks a bit of a debate when I’m having a beverage with some friends so let’s hope it stirs some emotion in you lot…
Last night I had to review Alicia Keys who was performing at the MEN Arena in Manchester. Granted not something I’d usually go for but I had nothing planned and we can all use the extra cash right? Anyhow, it was all a bit of a rushed job with me only getting confirmation of my review ticket at around 5 o’clock so off to Manchester I went to go watch the R&B songstress.
After a cheeky stop at the Burrito Bar (potentially the best place for scran in Manchester) I wandered down to the arena and picked up my ticket from the media guest list. “Oh”, said the rather bemused looking woman, “I didn’t think you were coming!” A reply I’d expect if Miss Keys had already taken the stage but alas, she hadn’t and the support act was still trying to warm up the sparse crowd. “Just go through them doors and straight down the stairs, someone will show you to your seat” she instructed me, and being the well brought up, well mannered British gent that I am, I duly obliged.
Already feeling like a bit of a fish out of water (I don’t really fit into the ‘Key Demographic’ of Alicia’s music) the lovely yellow clad M.E.N worker led me to my seat. Following is my internal monologue of the scenario:
“On the floor eh? I would have preferred being on the sides for this one so I could see everything, ah well, musnt grumble… going towards the stage are we? Fair enough… getting closer now… a bit too close if you ask me… oh, he must be heading up then turning off somewhere… nope… still going… oh look, front row centre stage… brilliant”
And so I sat there, for 20 minutes, right at the front, with five empty seats around me.
Now I usually relish on social awkwardness as I think it’s a baffling symptom of the human psyche (Dara O’Briain does a fantastic piece about silence in lifts which you should check out) but even this was a bit too much for me: a chubby, middleclass northern lad in scruffy attire sitting by himself on the front row at a trans-Atlantic R&B superstar concert. Marvellous.
Fortunately for me a reporter from the Manchester Evening News took a seat next to me shortly before the concert started which added some temporary relief before the zenith of my social discomfort happened about twenty minutes later.
I won’t go into the full gig as you can just read the review here but after her high tempo start she then took the centre stage with her grand piano to sing a couple of soulful ballads. In-between two of said songs she announced to the crowd; “I could use some help here”
She then stared into my eyes, neigh, my soul when she uttered the sentence “If you could just do a little finger-click, like this, you know, everyone can do that, it’s easy”
I froze. She kept staring.
“Come on everyone”
She started to look a strange mix of both upset and angry. ‘Miffed’ is the word I suppose. Then she pretty much pleaded with me:
“Come on guys, it’s good for my morale to know you’re with me”
I’d gone too far to click now. It had become a test of my character. She gave up, broke eye contact and looked down at her piano… I felt awful.
There were 6,000+ people sat behind me who would have given proverbial limbs to be sat where I was and it’s unfair that I got that seat. If the shoe was on the other foot and Muse were playing that night and some journo who wasn’t really a fan got the best seats in the house whilst I was up in the heavens having to guess what song they were playing I wouldn’t be chuffed whatsoever.
This eventually brings me rather belatedly to my point; do you agree with the concept of ‘Golden Circles’? If they’re done correctly then I have no problem with them but it’s borderline criminal to have me sat beside five empty seats on the front row at an arena gig.
When I say ‘done correctly’ I suggest competition winners who are evidently big fans of the artist in a ballot style draw. And they shouldn’t have to pay extra for this privilege; that also takes the piss.
When I went to see the Foo Fighters in Manchester a few weeks back it was one of the first stadium gigs I’ve been to in a long time that didn’t have a golden circle of sorts and it both looked fantastic and also added to the atmosphere significantly.
I know there are crowd safety issues involved these days as well but if they worked around it surely more artists could?
A mini blog within a blog…
Just a note to end on; I was asked by one of our artists this week what this whole Sonicbids malarkey is about. Basically it’s like myspace but you have to pay for it, which sounds daft, but is becoming more worth it as time goes by. Whereas your myspace profile is targeted towards your fans, your Sonicbids profile is targeted towards industry. The website was initially set up as a way to bring artists and promoters together but has now progressed to include people searching for licensing deals, songwriters, conference appearances etc.
It’s designed to give industry the key information of you as an artist to help them decide whether you’d be worth booking or not and it’s steadily becoming quite a standard thing for an artist to have in their repertoire. It’s currently far bigger in the US rather than the UK but certain UK festivals (like Liverpool Sound City) are currently requesting all potential acts to submit their Sonicbids profile if they wish to be considered to play.
So in summary; it’s not essential but if you have a spare £25 knocking about then I’d sign up. It’ll make you look more professional if anything and that never hurts.
What I’m listening to this week: my updated Muxtape
What I’m reading this week: Kevin Nolan’s Diary