Last week I received a mail from James who’d just been to the Indigo 2, but I decided to hold his thoughts until I’d been myself and could comment too.
I’d chosen the Blind Boys of Alabama mainly because it was an almost guaranteed good night out – they’ve been going for about 900 years and if they don’t know how to work an audience by now…
At the time of booking there was no seating plan of anywhere in the building so I had to take a chance. Just this once, I decided to push the boat out and go for the mysterious ‘King’s Row,’ where, in exchange for money, you too can become a VIP.
You know you’re a VIP because you get to go in a different entrance to everyone else and, when you get in the elevator, someone pushes the button for you (in case you got it wrong, I wonder?) You also get your ticket checked at least four times, but at least it’s by the lovely Stepford Staff who are friendly to the point of obsequiousness.
The bar (read ‘cash cow’) is swanky indeed – all furry tiles, mirrored walkways, retro fittings and circular wooden booths – really very nice indeed, but you don’t really get a chance to enjoy it. The reason is simple.
Unallocated seating. You’ve paid top-whack for King’s Row seats, but once you get in there it’s a free-for-all. Most seats are not bad, some are very good and two (at either end) are utterly appalling (‘restricted view’ is not the word – the speakers COMPLETELY cover the stage and are pointing away from you so you don’t even hear it properly. I’d be furious if the only seat left was one of those two.) This means that you do really need to get there at the time on the ticket, despite its being at least hour before performance, to bagsy seats. For last night’s concert, everyone was very civilised, but I could see fisticuffs at some gigs.
TOP PHANTOM TIP
Bring a woolly as a marker, or make your own portable cardboard “reserved” notice. It doesn’t guarantee your seats would be kept but at least you don’t have to sit there for an hour. There is table service so you could just sit there, it’s a pleasant enough experience and gives you a chance to get to know your neighbours.
You can’t bring glass into the auditorium, but plastic is allowed, and you can either have a bottle of wine put into a jug or kept behind the bar for you. There is only bottled beer available. I did see people downstairs with pints, but couldn’t check the facilities as there was no way of getting down there – they’re totally separate.
This all might sound as though I don’t like Indigo 2 – and that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you can get there early enough to get a good seat (we arrived 15 mins after the doors opened and we had very nice swivellly seats – not the best, but still v. good. The ones on the front of the front row seem slightly better than the ones that have tables, but there’s not much in it) then you’ll have a great time.
The place itself is bigger than I had expected, the sound is good, the view (save those two seats) seems pretty ok anywhere and the whole place itself is fresh, clean and – well – just a good place to see things. Some might find it a bit ‘sanitised’ but it’s horses for courses – there are some great ‘authentic’ venues elseswhere for other nights. This is AEG and they don’t do grunge.
We sneaked up to the Grand Circle to check out sightlines and although the action looked a lot further away (obviously) the seats we checked seemed good.
The Blind Boys themselves were fabulous, rousing Gospel music to warm the cockles of the most atheistic of hearts. The sight of a septugenarian – nay, octogenarian – rabble-rouser being mobbed by girls a quarter of his age will stay with me for some time. And Amazing Grace, House of the Rising Sun-style, the Gospel equivalent to Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’s ‘ One Song to the Tune of Another,’ was both hauting and moving.
Frankly poor Mavis Staples had a hard act to follow. She was full of power as always, but never managed to eclipse the headliner. I’m not sure why they put them on in that order. I had assumed it was so that the older act could get back home to bed, but as we left we found (and congratulated, of course) the Blind Boys drinking in the bar, so that could hardly be the reason.
I can’t comment on the ground floor of the club. Can anyone else?
As promised, here is what James had to say about the first night at the place:
I thought I would let you know what a great night we had at the 02 on Monday evening watching Jools Holland. It was the first time anyone had performed in the smaller Indigo 02 which holds about 2300 people. It is a great little venue with unbelievably acoustics, Jools and his many band sounded great. It was my second time to visit the 02 I went the week before to watch Snow Petrol but the larger arena was half empty and the atmosphere was not that great although the ban were really good. The indigo 02 was totally buzzing and everyone was up dancing and having a great time. I recommend this venue to anyone and the tickets are very reasonably priced.