Ghost, Manchester

Written by ant-rocks     May 13, 2022    
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I was looking forward to this, but sometimes things don't work out how you expect them to

Manchester: Arena, 9th April 2022

I was looking forward to this, but sometimes things don't work out how you expect them to. However, the story I am about to relate could easily have been avoided.

I arrived at the venue, and on going to the box office to pick up the tickets and photo pass, I was told there was only one photo pass. No tickets, from what I understood, just one photo pass. Ah, Manchester again. After a lot of too-ing and fro-ing, I eventually got the tickets. Jolly good. On to business. I presented myself at the gate where photographers enter the venue, and I thought it was a little strange having to go in where we did. I had covered shows here in the past, but it was some years ago, and a lot has happened in that time. So, quickly through the security bag search, at which point a label was put on the handle of my bag. "That's good" I thought, "then everybody from here on will know that the bag has been checked". I had to wait in this area until the first band came on, which is common for most larger venues. I was glad it was sunny, as it was outside.

Twin Temple are a quirky American band incorporating saxophone with the standard bass, guitar drums etc, fronted by a female vocalist and a male guitarist/vocalist. The young lady sported a beehive haircut and a short skirt, with a skull in her hands from which she anointed the front rows with some liquid, while the guy in a long jacket emblazoned with a cross on the back stood there holding a bell (?). We couldn't tell initially whether she could sing or not, as her microphone didn't work. When that was eventually sorted, she got a huge cheer and she did have a good voice. I heard three songs; I have no idea what they were.

Then the fun started.

We were led outside the venue to where we waited prior to entry. Apparently, there was no facility for storing cameras. I had a ticket to go back into the venue to review the show, but I would have had to dispose of my camera. They wouldn't let me leave it where we were, and they said I had to either take it back to the hotel? Or take it back to the car, only to come back, eventually get to my seat after which I was expected to go back to the car, retrieve my camera equipment, and then gain re-entry to go through the whole process again. Really? One problem with this was, if I could have found the car (and left my somewhat expensive equipment in the boot, which wasn't going to happen) it wasn't my car we came in, and the person whose car it was was already sat in their seat watching the show, which I of course was not allowed to do. I couldn't enter; I couldn't get the key. Photographers all had to wait. Outside. I complained and the security girl messaged her head of department. The message came back. There was absolutely no provision for storing our equipment. Hotel, car or stay here. Unbelievable!

I weighed things up. If I got in to review the show, I had to walk half way round the Arena area before I could find the car that was parked somewhere in the car park, leave my stuff in the car (not going to happen), return to the arena, find my seat, sit down, almost certainly get straight up again to go and fetch my camera from the car to cover the next band, bring it back, by which time the band would probably be half way through their second song, photograph them for around three minutes, then go out and repeat the whole process again. The weight was too heavy. That wasn't going to happen. Or, just take my camera gear and leave it in the car throughout the length of the show (Not going to happen). It appeared I had got this far, and I wasn't going to get any further. I therefore decided to photograph the bands to at least get something out of the evening. The owner of the car was told, if they came out of the arena to pass me the key, then they wouldn't be allowed back in.

Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats were already on when we were taken back inside; not as quirky as the first band, but a bit more straightforward Rock. If I had been allowed to sit and watch the rest of their set, I would probably have been able to tell you what style of Rock they played, or if they bore any similarities to other bands' music. It was a lot more brash than their predecessors, and the bass player struck some really good poses. Being led outside again, it was now dark, the sun had gone, and it was cold. (There was a frost that night).

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The monastic chant had already started when we got back in, and the show started with the silhouette of a faceless ghoul on the white curtain which stretched the width of the stage. The curtain dropped to show that the Ghost set didn't look quite as elaborate as for the last tour, and the masks had changed to something that looked a little like diving helmets. They were dynamic to say the least, very tight, and the guitarists and bassist did quite a few choreographed poses. Papa (or is he called something else now?) commanded the whole of the stage in his now, somewhat economic, face make up. They did 'Rats' as the second song, and that's as much as I can remember. We then went home. I would have loved to have seen this show.

We are all aware of what occurred here a few years ago, how terrible that was and that things had to be made more secure, but what happens here now is OTT and completely ridiculous. We take a three hour plus trip, to do a job, only to find that when you get there, the over-paranoia of "supervisors" over-rides simple common sense. You go through a secure area, you have your bags thoroughly checked, they label them, and then don't allow you to leave them there. If I were a terrorist, that is not an area that I would think of attacking and, if I was, and did, I fail to see why my camera bag is only allowed to be there if I am with it. My bag is still there, and crazy people that do that sort of thing don't worry about walking away. The gate security people would have been happy for us to leave our stuff there (there were only two of us with tickets), but they couldn't because of the "policy". Bearing in mind I cover shows in numerous arenas, Sheffield, Leeds, Birmingham N.E.C. and major venues in London including the O2, Wembley, Twickenham and the Albert Hall, and don't get this problem at any of them.

Please utilise some sense here and give people who are trying to do a job, promote the music, and the venue to some extent, the courtesy of being allowed to do it. What is in place is too restrictive and, being made to wait outside on a cold night leaves you thinking that they really don't care. I wouldn't want to be here in the winter. I didn't really want to be here now, and I won't be returning if this is how it stays. I won't even go into the fact that there are no facilities for people who do this job with a disability. And apologies to the guy I met at the box-office who, when he heard me say who I was working for to get the pass, told me he read Fireworks and Rocktopia and it was the best rock mag/web site out there, and he would look forward to reading the review. Unfortunately, this is it.

Andy B.

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