After fifteen minutes walk from Mile End tube station, we finally get onto the site. It was laid out like a mini-Glastonbury with more food stalls than you could shake a burger at (even in the middle behind the sound desk).
There were at least 40,000 people in the arena. We milled around near the back for a while then discovered that if you went down to the side near the bar you could at least get a view of the band on the stage.
The disadvantage of being near the bar (and it being still light) is the crowd all keep talking like they are in a pub watching the gig on TV. Even the hardcore fans have given up and started talking. I try going in a bit nearer the stage for a couple of songs but there wasn’t much improvement. Nights like this make me resigned to the fact that most people don’t experience these gigs in the same way I do. I remind myself that London crowds always SUCK.
At one point, when Bat for Lashes were on, we realised we were standing in front of Steve Lamacq. In a break between songs I introduced myself. Turns out the researcher who had been teasing me with the idea that I could send in something to his show about the tour had been away for the last week. My dreams of a radio career melt before my eyes.
Mr Lamacq did note that we were in the “Prawn Sandwich” section of the crowd, where people can afford to spend £50 on a ticket and then just socialise, drink and chat without being all that bothered about the gig. I drawn the line at a Radiohead gig becoming an exercise in corporate hospitality.
Once it got dark and the light show was in full effect, things improved. The band are enjoying Bangers & Mash and still doing the You And Whose Army/ Idioteque segue.
Thom came back on and played Cymbal Rush. They finished as a band with Planet Telex , which sounded a bit all over the place, the mix at the sides of the field wasn’t very balanced.
There was some ligging action to be had later. This being London, it was in a proper festival-style bar tent with picnic tables and bowls of sweets. (Parma Violets anyone?)
All a bit surreal. I’m introduced to an American called “Beetle” who has been to forty shows and compares the whole experience to following The Grateful Dead, only with less drugs and better music. I guess I’m part of that whole scene but it doesn’t feel like my experience.
People who know better than me reckoned the gig was pretty good (but they don’t have the problems us punters have to put up with).