… and the next phrase is NOT Moneysupermarket.com and their infuriating ads.
Instead the answer is Peter Gabriel and his appearance (So …) in Glasgow last week. But unlike the last time I saw him in Glasgow, this time he was not in the SECC but in the new Hydro (I know it is sponsored but given recent events I don’t feel I have to mention the sponsors). A few months ago I wrote about seeing Neil Young and Crazy Horse and made some comments about the poor retail and other facilities at the show. I did not mention it, but that was in one of the barns of the SECC.
So, unlike the SECC, that part of Glasgow now has a purpose built concert arena. And a fine site it is as well. Seeing it for the first time inside was a lot different to the SECC. The show space is excellent and the acoustics and sight lines make a welcome change from what has gone before.
But what about the retail and commercial space? A few things struck me:
As with Neil Young the retail aspects of the show were decidedly low key. This time they were housed in a purpose built commercial space, but there was not much effort really made.
The effort however was made in the eating and drinking spaces. There were numerous grazing opportunities (seats, what do you mean you want to sit down?), all well staffed up with an emphasis on the fast – in food and service. Certainly there seemed to be more than in the SECC – and the newness added a sheen.
But the biggest change was in the egress and access – where it reminded us both of sports stadia (particular Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, but that is probably familiarity). There seemed to be a lot more emphasis on circulation space and moving people quickly. Linked to the dwell spaces for food, this is a modern arena, if a little bland (which is probably the main difference to sports venues where there is an opportunity for more branding and personality than in a multi-user space).
S0 … brilliant, in concert and venue terms.
The last time I saw Peter Gabriel in Glasgow I was interested in that at the gig you could pre-order a CD of that concert. I found out about it on the night but do not recall how I signed up. Nine years on, an email arrived before the night offering the same opportunity – and a host of others for the more serious collector! Direct from the soundboard to your home, with added downloadable footage.
And maybe that’s one answer to why selling stuff at the venue is so low-key? Those that really want the tee-shirt or the CD or the whatever it is, have moved, like so many other things, online. So, in reality I can now have the tee shirt and the concert without leaving my computer – so why would I go there and buy anything?
It’s just that I find that all a little soul-less. Nothing for me beats live music (well except Wales beating anyone at rugby – again) and the experience it gives you. And it is that sense of theatre and experience that we have lost from so many places and spaces.
Can’t help feeling that one main impact of your interesting write-up on the Hydro is to highlight just how lacking the SECC was in many aspects. From my very first experience at the SECC it struck me as having an air of, ‘done-on-a-barely-adequate-budget’ and ‘we actually got it delivered and about on time so what more did you want?’ Truth to be told IMO, Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall (aka Lally’s Pally) has that same air. Now that Glasgow has the resplendent and high performance Hydro, it would be nice to think that attention will turn to ‘doing something’ about what is meant to be the City’s premier concert hall. Meantime of course, there’s a massive reinvestment and retrofit task awaiting at the SECC. It’s that evegreen Glasgow story of ever changing, ever adapting, ever wanting better.
Old vs new in many respects. And to be fair to the SECC it was Exhibition and Conference Centre rather than a music venue. But it is needing work.