Sunday, June 04, 2006

Police at gigs

Worked a large-venue gig today. I won't say who or where for obvious reasons.

Off-duty, I prefer gigs in small venues, where you can get relatively close to the performers, and enjoy a more intimate atmosphere. Maybe it's just me, but the music seems more 'personal', that way. When I was a student, and even now when I'm not, I liked/like gigs in the Student Union's various venues for those very reasons.

Admittedly you get the 'wow' feeling stemming from the awe-inspiring scale of the concert when held in a large venue, but it's never really been my preferred choice to hear a group. Thus I've not attended one for many years. You either have to queue up for many hours to get a decent view, or you get stuck at the back and are reduced to watching the concert on a large screen, with all the atmosphere up the front. May as well stay home and watch it on DVD.

Maybe it was because I had an ear defender stuck in one ear and an earpiece in the other, but all I could hear was a general 'noise' which followed a vaguely familiar pattern (as I'd heard all the songs before). It was hard to discern between instruments, the vocals were too loud and all I heard was a vaguely recognisable tune, accompanied by the slow murmuring of the crowd as they 'sang' along. Then again, people don't attend gigs to hear a crystal-clear song. That's what high-quality recordings are for. People attend gigs for the experience of seeing and hearing that song performed.

At most gigs, we work outside the venue, on traffic point; crowd control; enforcing drinking bans and the like. Very few work inside, and those who are will be Public Order trained (proficient in 'riot' tactics). The same goes for football matches. It's primarily a safety issue - a small number of officers inside a venue against far more attendees is not conducive to a safe working environment if something goes wrong. The more cynical would argue that bossess don't want officers skiving off and watching the gig.

Today was a very rare occasion, as I was able to work inside, in plain clothes, on an operation to tackle incidents of drunkeness, which had marred previous gigs in the area. Once everyone was inside the venue, there wasn't much for us to do, so I was able to enjoy the concert. I remained professional, however, as I still found time to eject a few drunken idiots. See - I can balance work and play!

In the main, we opt for discretion over intervention, as most events will have their own stewards and marshals responsible for the majority of the grunt work involved in queue management, admission etc. We just hang around in case something goes wrong or traffic levels (human and vehicle) reach stupid levels. It's an easy shift!

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I do wish I was in an area which has events on this scale frequently
Oh and am being careful not to give away where I am! :p
I trust your superior officers will have this matter drawn to their attention in the hope they can get it right next time? How did they get it so wrong?
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