Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

More Complaints Denis

If it’s Monday, it must mean that Irish concert-goers are fuming. No-one fumes as well as we Irish and there’s never been a better time for it than this summer. For concert promoters MCD, this must be another one of …

Mon, Jul 16, 2007, 17:46


If it’s Monday, it must mean that Irish concert-goers are fuming. No-one fumes as well as we Irish and there’s never been a better time for it than this summer.

For concert promoters MCD, this must be another one of those days when you just want to take the phone off the hook and go back to bed. Last week’s Oxegen was one thing – and please don’t make me go through it all again, it’s all here and here if you’re still interested – but the Barbara yoke is quite another. This time, it wasn’t 17 year old kids off their heads on Dutch Gold who were on the phone to Liveline – this time, it was their parents and grandparents. I mean, on the phone, not off their heads on Dutch Gold, though you’d never know.

While you could argue that anyone who paid good money to see Ms Streisand in action was already cruising for a bruising, it still didn’t stop the complaints coming thick and fast about the concert on RTE Radio One’s Liveline and Today FM’s Last Word.

People without seats. People with other people in their seats. Mud. Badly lit car-parks. Lack of stewards and security personnel. Lack of stewards and security personnel who really knew what was going on. Traffic chaos outside the venue.

Apparently, Babs was alright. So that was nice.

It has been a bad week for the biggest concert promoters in the land. Despite really pulling up their socks at Oxegen, the company still got it in the ear with a rake of nagging post-event. In Ireland, it seems we’re quite happy to blame companies like MCD for society-wide alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour and lack of respect rather than actually look for the real reasons why youngsters at a rock concert act like savages. It’s easier to blame to Denis Desmond for that.

However, last weekend’s problems cannot be pinned on a few hundred gobshites and future accountants/bank clerks/fork-lift drivers. When it comes to concert production, the areas of traffic, stewarding and seating, to take the three areas generating the most heat, are mundane, straight-forward and unglamorous tasks. They have to be done and done right. It’s as simple as that. They are planned in advance and are part of every largescale open-air concert’s event management plan. These event management plans are prepared by the concert promoter for the local authorities, gardai and emergency services so there should be copies available in all the usual places if anyone cares to ask for one.

But lets just take those three areas for now. Start with traffic. You need to have the right number of access and egress routes to the venue to enable people to get to and from the concert as easily and quickly as possible. These routes have to take account of the number of ticket-holders and, more importantly, how these customers travel to the venue. In the case of last Saturday’s show, organisers should have been expecting about 8,000 cars, based on an occupancy of two people per car. Unlike Oxegen, the Streisand crowd just doesn’t do public transport, darling.

Next, staffing. You need to have an adequete number of stewards and ushers to show people to their seats especially in a venue like Castletown House which is not normally used for concerts and which is fully seated. In these cases, you err on the side of caution and have plenty of hired help.

Most of all, for a show like Babs, you REALLY have to have the right number of SEATS. It is, after all, a seated show. These lads and lasses paid top dollar for their tickets and they expect a seat and maybe even a cushion. To have people turning up holding pricey tickets to non-existent seats (as some radio show complainants had it) or to have people already sitting in those seats and refusing to budge is just not good enough. I don’t think if you or I decided to nab a seat in a box in the Olympia that we didn’t have a ticket for that we’d be allowed to stay there for the show. Or maybe this is now a new policy.

At least, there’s some good news for MCD. There’s a month to go until their next outdoor show. Anyone care to bet on the number of complaints POD’s Lovebox will generate next weekend?

UPDATE Check out the complaints from punters who were at the show (instead of pundits who were a hundred miles away enjoying Tipperary beating Cork with the sideline direction of a very different Babs) over at Dermod Moore’s blog.