A year and a mil­lion gig-go­ers later, the Point is all but for­got­ten

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion - bboyd@irish­times.com

Some­time just be­fore Paramore’s gig at the 02 tonight (see panel, page 20), the one mil­lionth punter will pass through the doors. It’s an in­cred­i­ble suc­cess story for a venue that opened last De­cem­ber in the depths of d’re­ces­sion.

Live Na­tion and Harry Cros­bie pumped some ¤80 mil­lion into trans­form­ing the unloved Point De­pot into a state-of-the-art venue. In less than two years they “hu­man­ised” the space by mov­ing the stage around, putting in am­phithe­atre-style seat­ing and gen­er­ally act­ing as if Philippe Starck had got his hands on the gaff.

By the end of this year, 1.2 mil­lion pun­ters will have got up close and per­sonal with the venue. This ex­tra 200,000 is due to the strength of the up­com­ing card, with Ed­die Iz­zard, Paul McCart­ney and Mi­ley Cyrus per­form­ing. Given the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion, that’s a re­mark­able pro­por­tion – far higher than Lon­don’s 02, and one that pos­si­bly makes Dublin’s 02 the most over-achiev­ing venue in Europe.

A handy pub quiz ques­tion for fu­ture ref­er­ence is “What was the first song played at the 02?” It cer­tainly wasn’t by the Kings of Leon (that was the sec­ond show) or any­thing on the Child­line bill two nights pre­vi­ous. It was Noel Gal­lagher’s favourite U2 song, Van Diemen’s Land, played by Bono and The Edge to an au­di­ence of six, a week or so be­fore the venue opened.

Per­haps one of the rea­sons why the venue has per­formed so well is that its spec­i­fi­ca­tions fi­nally al­low acts to bring their full stage show. The old Point sim­ply couldn’t fit all the rig­ging and lighting for mar­quee acts, so we usu­ally only got 75 per cent of the full show.

And the line-up has helped enor­mously: a lot of bands felt it wasn’t eco­nom­i­cally fea­si­ble to lug all their gear over the Ir­ish Sea for a 6,000-ca­pac­ity gig, but with seat­ing for 14,000 it be­comes a lot more at­trac­tive to the mega-names.

There have al­ready been talk­ing points: both Yusuf Is­lam’s re­cent show and last week’s per­for­mance of Aida at­tracted lev­els of “cus­tomer dis­sat­is­fac­tion” sel­dom wit­nessed be­fore at an Ir­ish live mu­sic venue. Mean­while, the com­mon con­sen­sus is that the best gig yet at the 02 was last April’s teeth-rat­tling, turn-it-up-to-11 af­fair by AC/DC.

The 02 peo­ple say they are thrilled by the “name recog­ni­tion” take-up over the past year, with mar­ket re­search show­ing that 85 per cent of Ir­ish peo­ple re­fer to the venue as the 02 rather than the Point. Live Na­tion is in it for the long haul and and will be flex­ing its tech­no­log­i­cal mus­cles next year.

At some stage in the fu­ture you’ll be able to buy con­cert tick­ets on your phone, ac­cess the venue through a bar code swipe on your phone and even down­load songs off posters through your phone. There are also plans to have down­loads of the show avail­able min­utes af­ter the band leaves the stage.

Com­ing up in 2010 are the Queen We Will Rock You mu­si­cal, the first DJ head­liner in the shape of Tiesto, and two gigs by Lady Gaga. How­ever, it will come as now sur­prise that two of the most pop­u­lar shows due re­flect the pub­lic’s seem­ingly in­sa­tiable ap­petite for all things re­al­ity TV.

Run to the 02’s web­site now if you want to se­cure tick­ets for ei­ther the “stars” of The X Fac­tor or Strictly Come Danc­ing.

The 02’s mil­lionth cus­tomer ar­rives tonight

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