When Elton John came to Hong Kong a while ago I looked at the price (HK$1580 if I remember correctly) and decided not to go on that basis alone. I then spent ages regretting the decision. So when Billy Joel (frankly not so high on my “must see” list as Elton John) came up at $1280 for decent-ish seats Mrs smog and I decided to go. And overall we’re glad we did.
Spike commented that the show was almost sold out. He missed the fact that the rear part of the hall was empty and separated off by curtains. Those seats had been for sale, and what happened was that everyone who bought them for (I think) $480 got free upgrades to the mid-price section (was that $880?). Now if I had been one of the people who paid $880 and saw that happening I would have been a bit pissed off – you can bet they didn’t get their money back. But then I don’t feel guilty when I get a free upgrade on a plane so I guess I can’t complain too much.
Mr Joel did gave an excellent performance with a very tight band. Unlike Spike I had read the reviews and so knew to expect the roadie’s Highway to Hell, and it is a novel but very effective way to get the crowd on their feet – before that no-one was standing; from then on everyone was.
One thing that surprised us was the complete absence of large displays – he had them on the earlier tour dates, and most stadium rock/pop shows that I have been to in Hong Kong have had them too. Mrs smog felt her age and regretted not having her glasses with her! We wondered if this was the cut the promoter made to make up for the shortfall of a couple of million HK dollars in their budget due to not selling all the seats.
Three other things annoyed us:
- why did the tickets say no alcohol allowed in the arena when in fact (for the first time in my experience in Hong Kong, and a very good thing it is too) people were being allowed to bring beer in? By the time we saw this we were at our seats which were near the stage and a long way from the bars, so we couldn’t be bothered going out for some.
- why do so many people pay $1280 for tickets and then turn up over an hour late? It was very annoying to have all the people wandering around trying to find their seats (with the “assistance” of ushers and security people who seemed to have no more clue about where the seats were than anyone else) and blocking our view for the first half of the show
- why did we have to get sat in front of a bunch of young New Yorkers who mistakenly thought that they were in a karaoke club and spent the whole show either singing very loudly and badly or conversing at very high volumes in those intensely penetrating American accents? We paid a lot of money to listen to Billy Joel, not some bunch of talentless kids, so they were lucky I was in a fairly mellow mood.
But anyway, overall a good show which introduced Mrs smog to some of the excellent music that was around before she was born! Next up we have to hope that the real AC/DC make it to Hong Kong on their forthcoming tour, otherwise that’s going to be worth a flight somewhere (for me at least – Mrs smog, of course, is unlikely to be able to get time off work).
Oh, and someone should tell Billy Joel’s drummer that he might as well get rid of all his cymbals and most of his drums except the big one – we could see that he was giving them a good clattering, but the way the sound was mixed last night you couldn’t hear them at all!