Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

You’ll never look at an Irish venue in the same way again

It will probably take you about two minutes at most after you walk into The 02 to cast the Point to the very back of your mind. After five minutes, you’ll wonder just why the hell Irish audiences put up …

Tue, Nov 25, 2008, 14:10

   

It will probably take you about two minutes at most after you walk into The 02 to cast the Point to the very back of your mind. After five minutes, you’ll wonder just why the hell Irish audiences put up with – or had to put up with – that dreadful calamity of a venue for so long. And after ten minutes, you’ll dread seeing the words “playing at the RDS” associated with any act coming to Ireland.

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Yeah, it really is that good. I had a look around the venue last week as the opening date inches ever closer and was hugely impressed by the remarkable transformation which has occured inside the shell of the old Point. The sightlines are Vicar Street-like (and thankfully not Olympia-like). The way the seats are arranged means you’re closer to the action from what is supposed to be the worst seat in the house than you’ll ever be in other venues. And the attention to detail thoughout is not what we’ve ever seen in other Irish venues, with the possible exception of the Odyssey in Belfast.

It may sit on the same location as the Point, but that’s as far as the relationship between the two goes. One is a potentially world-class venue – the other was a big old shed for trams and trains which found itself pressed into use as a venue because we’d nowhere else to use.

Of course, there are a few caveats to be aired before the doors open and the punters come in for the first show. The venue have yet to have a band and 14,000 punters in so we have to take their word that the sound will be bang on. An extensive set of acoustic tests have already been done so I’m sure that any sonic imperfections which occur will have more to do with the quality of the touring band’s crew than the venue (something which was always the other way around in the Point). There will, naturally, be some crowd control teething problems as people get used to the venue and where everything is now located.

But I can’t imagine it will take long for this place to bed down. Punters are already snapping up tickets for every blooming show scheduled for the 02, a remarkable fact given these hard economic times and the way Recession 2.0 is causing havoc with smaller, mid-size gigs. Given that the 02 is set to host many shows once destined for outdoor fields – where they usually underperformed – we can all get used to spending more time down on North Wall Quay.