U2 // Vertigo // London

London was roasting on Sunday. And I went to see rock legends U2 for their London performance of their Vertigo tour at Twickenham stadium in the early evening. There was, at times, a nice breeze in the stadium as the evening drew in. When the band came on – the noise was deafening. Over 50,000 people cheered, clapped, danced and sung their way through every number – right up until darkness. It was good.

Big thumbs up to Bono and the crew!
(Two fingers to the event organisers for their “no camera” policy –
click here: all my images can be purchased at Flickr.)

And this brings me on nicely to my one major criticism ofthe whole event: the camera policy. There were signs everywhere that cameras were prohibited. The event organisers went to great lengths to ensure that people got the message that they should not bring cameras to the event – even printing the message on the tickets as they were sold months in advance. This irritates me deeply. Bullying people into not bringing their cameras – and making people feel like they are some illegal contraband – without giving ANY explanation why is just plain stupid. And there really was no explanation as to why. Of course, everyone knows that it’s to prevent professional photographers and videographers from making money selling high quality pics and videos created using high-quality capture and imaging equipment – but your average concert-goer isn’t going to want to attend the show in order sell images and vidoes. So – by making cameras a no-no to everybody had the effect of deterring the average concert-goer from bringing their holiday-snap camera to take a few memorable pics to commemorate the event. Which was completely unnecessary – especially as the face value of tickets was up to 95 pounds per seat! (In fact the show was a sell-out and tickets were trading on Ebay for over 300 pounds!) So – when you pay that much money for a ticket – then it seems stupid to tell people so forcefully not to bring their cameras so that they couldn’t capture some wonderful moments of the experience. But the thing that really irked me even more was the fact that the officials inside the stadium wearing yellow or orange T-shirts with the words “Crowd Safety Control” written on them (and there were loads of them) actually monitored the audience for cameras! And every time they spotted someone using a camera – they rushed up to that person and told them firmly to stop! This is simply ridiculous. The bag searches that took place as everyone entered the venue ensured that nobody could smuggle in professional imaging equipment – meaning that the only cameras let through were personal ones – so why on earth were the officials who were supposedly about crowd safety so edgy about people taking “holiday” snaps?

I really hope that the event organisers read this – as it is highly devious to send such strong signals about cameras to the fans so far in advance – but then on the day allow personal cameras – and then to make those who did try to use their personal cameras suffer the humility of being told that they can’t take pictures by crowd safety control folks threatening to throw you out the venue.

Of course – I took my camera, my 5 megapixel one – and I also took my mobile phone – which has a camera in it (OK – not exactly high quality) – but almost everybody in the audience had a cameraphone – so at least people did get a chance to take some pictures. And although I was one of the many people who got told on numerous occasions to stop taking pictures with my digital camera – I did so anyway. The whole thing about the camera prohibition was completely laughable by that point – it just simply wasn’t worth taking seriously when a crowd safety officer one moment stops some drunken reveller from splashing their beer all over the place – then goes and asks someone to stop using their camera – completely laughable.

They’ll have to think again when the next generation of mobile phones containing 5 megapixel (and above) cameras hit the streets. What are they going to do then; employ crowd safety control officials to pounce on people holding their mobile phones? This was the tainted edge of an otherwise great show!

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