I'm in London just now - feel like a country hick in the big city, all I need is a knotted napkin on a stick to complete the look - because Stevie Wonder was playing at the Millennium Dome last night and there was no way I was going to miss him.
I say Millennium Dome; the real title is 02 Arena, and it's such a cartoonish temple to capitalism that it makes me feel like a red. They've essentially built a little stadium under the canvas, and around it follows a plastic street with brands and franchises plastered everywhere - high street pub chains & restaurant names, a cinema, and displays for other sponsors. Adidas is "uniting Britain", ludicrously, BMW is aspiring you to own a grey car, Pepsi Max is supercharging your life without sugar, Credit Suisse is (probably going bankrupt but shhhh), and so on. There's not a speck of dust anywhere; just pish watery lager, overpriced factory-processed food, and manipulative corporate propaganda everywhere you look.
Makes me talk like a red too.
Stevie was due to start at 8:15, as an announcer repeatedly told us, but as we were hurrying to our seats the restaurants and bars were full of punters who seemed completely oblivious. Surely - oh surely! - they hadn't just come here for the food! We were seated on time, three rows from the back on the top tier (the last time I was in this venue, for Prince last year, I was three rows from the back of the top tier too. One day - ONE DAY! - I will get a ticket for a show at the O2 that is less than 150 metres from the stage) and could clearly see hundreds of empty seats in the stadium, for this supposedly sold-out show. VERY slowly people started to fill in, but Stevie was nowhere. He didn't come out until almost every seat was filled, at 8:45.
Then, at the end, waves of people were scurrying out before Stevie had even finished. It was like being at Ibrox, where most Gers fans are horrified to see people leaving a full 5 minutes before full-time to get to the Underground quickly. But this was Stevie Wonder!
London is so monied that a £55 ticket to Stevie Wonder was just a regular evening out for thousands in attendance, it didn't mean anything, hence them swanning in late (in such numbers that it delayed the show) and leaving early again. Y'know, I just travelled from Scotland and took a week off work and paid three times face value for my ticket, six-and-a-half miles from the stage, while the 'fans' in the best seats were corporate guests and bored middle-aged couples with nothing else to do.
Probably, I shouldn't care, but I did. Dedicated fans always feels put-out when someone else tramples on their deeply-held affection for a musician; whether that's through a scathing review in a magazine, a withering look of contempt in a conversation, or a mass show of apathy at a once-in-a-lifetime show.
This is how Jonas Brothers fans feel when they're ridiculed. But but but - Stevie Wonder!
more later (mibbe)