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