Friday, December 15, 2006

Return to GMEx

When I first moved to Manchester, GMEx was the venue for large concerts (until the MEN Arena came along and stole its crown). Originally Central Station, a few decades after the railway moved out, it was converted into an exhibition centre. Whilst it works well in that incarnation, the acoustics for concerts were always notoriously bad. That said, it holds some happy memories for me - seeing James in 1990 and taking part in the now infamous 'seated ovation', being not least among them.

The video for the Sit Down used footage from the concert and captures the moment of a band surfing the crest of the wave of local adoration that had built up over the years and on the cusp of hitting the big time - soon they would start to sell as many records as T'shirts.

So when Stuart suggested getting tickets for Snow Patrol, my slight antipathy about seeing that particular band live and my generally dislike of 'stadium' gigs, was supplemented by a nostalgic desire to see the first concert back in GMEx for over a decade.

What can I say, I like Snow Patrol well enough, the splash of astonishing colour in rare tracks like Chocolate and Set the Fire to the Third Bar penetrates the averageness that to me pervades the bulk of their offerings. Live however they lack the charisma or strength of back catalogue to carry a stadium style gig and on top of this they regularly seem to have tuning problems with guitars and vocals.

Still, Elbow a band I totally adore are supporting and an evening with my buddies S&K is always something to look forward to.

Unfortunately a pig of a day has me running late and that combined with unprecedented traffic in Manchester this evening, means we arrive much later than intended - in time only to catch Elbow's last number.

Bars, burger stands and Oxfam campagn desks at the rear of the auditorium give the event the feel of a festival, but the hard flat floor prevents the associated chilling out. Combined with a low stage, it also means that K is struggling to see anything at all. Screens are used, but more as a means of decorative backdrop rather than the compensation for poor views that gigs of this size need.

As for Snow Patrol, well they largely left me unmoved. Maybe my mood didn't help, but for the first time ever I seriously contemplated leaving a gig early. They were competent enough, but I just didn't feel engaged.

Let's face it if the architecture of the venue is proving of higher fascination to you than the action on stage, you know something's wrong.

By the time they left the stage, I can honestly say I've never cared less whether a band returned or not for an encore.

So I'll still be forever grateful to those occasional musical gems that the lads send our way, but as for the bulk of their output and their live shows, I think I'll pass.

Snow Patrol at GMEx - definitely a case of a band punching above their weight.

Fortunately things pick up post-gig. Too late to catch a meal in town, we head to Rusholme and to the comforts of the Punjab. Happily after a few disappointing trip of late, the Punjab is back on highest form - fantastic food and friendly service. One of the best meals I've ever had there (and regular readers of my blog may have gathered there have been a few over the years...).

To wrap things up, the cheeky waiter brings us complimentary festive desserts, fitting for our mature palettes...


Merlin said...

Well that's quite a disappointment. I think Snow Patrol are really rather good and I enjoy listening to them. I enjoy the lyrics, maybe it's something to do with where I am now, maybe it is slightly sentimental c@@p which I find appealing (and I suspect looking at my poems, probably is). Anyway, I stand by them.

sally said...

Book me in one weekend next year. I want a good gig, dinner at the Punjab and evrything else good about visiting you and manchester. Don't wanna read about it any more..wanna be there!!!!! xx

1 i z said...

Name the date Sally my love, name the date!