A definitive guide to the land of lavatories
The second hand would reach twelve, the clock would move onto a state of midnight and subsequently all computers globally would fail to realise it was a new millennium, think it was 1900 and as a result nuclear warheads would set off, your blender would kill your cat and your car, believing it was in the Victorian era and thus a horse, would drive you and your girlfriend into the nearest stable, start to roll in the hay and crush you in the process.
The millennium bug and all its associated scaremongering was indeed the best and worst of times in terms of human capability, eccentricity and lunacy.
It still seems amazing that back in the late 90s people truly believed planes would fall from sky because these phenomenal machines that could safely float you over a whole continent would suddenly struggle to work a calendar, but then it seems the end of a millennia generally had people scratching their heads and then walking into walls.
Nowhere was this more prevalent than with the ‘millennium projects’ conjured up by the early 90’s Tories, who one can only think saw the turn of the calendar as some way to crystallise Britain into the historical pantheon alongside the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks with a combination of a wonky bridge, gigantic ferris wheel and huge marquee.
That said, with the dome, it being invented by Britain, mocked by its residents, dismissed into a period of self reflection and yet still flogged to foreign investors, turned into a success and then taxed under a British government, perhaps best exemplifies the skill set of Britain in modern times.
Perhaps the millennium dome managed to fulfil its purpose after all.
Not since Matthew Kelly would scream singers names through the starry eyed clouds has Britain seen such a successful public reinvention as the O2, and one can see immediately that this was done by playing to strengths. Taking on the historical grandeur of the Albert hall or the musically stained walls of the Hammersmith Apollo would have been foolish, so instead the venue has embraced being at the other end of the spectrum to full effect:
Rather than being tucked away like some clandestine musical enclave – its on the river – connected to a big cable car:
Rather than being adjacent to some old café that can tell some classic stories about serving Ike Turner a tea before he sung ‘Proud Mary’ live for the first time- its inner ring is surrounded by restaurants – that take vouchers:
Rather than having no parking spots as its on a windy Camden back street – it is a large car park etc. etc
Now the above may not suggest a place that is on the forefront of the musical zeitgeist, yet at second glance, perhaps the O2 is the musical zeitgeist.
As we are now in an era where Adorno’s ‘Culture industry’ theory has reached its apex, where music is a free for all in terms of sharing, buying, making, faking…..it makes sense that it is large ‘accessible’ arena’s that have credibility. This is not to say intimate gigs in small backwater Shoreditch pubs don’t still have huge appeal and a level of purity – it’s just that they don’t need to define the music as much as they used to, because before you have exited the small pub to then brag about the gig you saw with just 50 people – it’s already on youtube and has 5 million hits.
Don’t feel guilty about selling out when everyone has already bought in.
Sadly, the fact that, as stated above, the venue is a bit of a cultural catch all, means the toilets are rather barren. Depressingly so. Not dissimilar to those experienced at a football ground, but at least at a football ground there is some sort of terrible graffiti or indication of life, familiarity. These toilets looked like there were assembled for some temporary scaffolding outfit because the building manager didn’t want the workmen to enter into his plush office.
Looking up from the urinals to see a sign state ‘now please wash your hands’ is about as Rock’n roll as a Clarkson ‘rocks’ CD you get with the Sun.
Try as I may I couldn’t get a picture (below) that could not make the sinks look like they weren’t part of the wall. It literally looks (and feels) like you are hosing yourself down.
The Porcelain Gentleman:
The dome was originally supposed to be a celebratory building with different zones covering areas called ‘faith’ , ‘body’ , ‘journey’ and my favourite ‘self portrait’ which was a zone explaining how the ‘British view Britain’. Instead, now it shows boxing, darts and popular music shows.
As Jeff Goldblum famously opined in Jurassic Park ‘life finds a way’.
As for the toilets, on night that involved Mick Fleetwood screaming in a faux Scottish accent whilst Lindsay Buckingham (pictured) thrust his ego round the stage, to still recall anything let alone how bad the loo’s were, is very telling – 2/10.