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Guns N’ Roses & Blink-182 – Amplify’d

“Stand up will you?? Rock 'n' roll isn’t meant to be comfortable!” screams Thin Lizzy’s frontman. Really? Not so, ensconced in the Showdeck at the LG Arena where we await headliner Guns N’ Roses. Sorry Lizzy but this is comfy!  Sat Bal (25 Jun 12)

Of course, comfort doesn’t imply primness and a private, complimentary bar close by soon helps guests feel the music - but more of that later. Red Carpet happens to be at two concerts at two venues within the NEC Group umbrella in the same fortnight. First we see a reconstituted Guns N’ Roses followed, barely a week later, by back from the brink Blink 182 who return after 8 years off.  

It’s an insight into the hospitality offering at the LG Arena and NIA respectively. For consumers and businesses who want more from their events a range of options open up. Supplying these options is Amplify, the hospitality provider for NEC Group, the Birmingham-based venue management company that operates the NEC, NIA, LG Arena and the ICC.

At the LG Arena the differences start with preferential ‘South 2’ car parking next to the Lakeside hospitality entrance. The Amplify parking pass is inscribed “Event hospitality taken to a new level” and these levels encompass three tiers of hospitality package; Freestyle, Club and Air.

Showdeck

The LG Arena fills up nicely with the Guns N’ Roses faithful as we’re led to a security-manned section within the main seating area. The Showdeck is discrete and there aren’t overt indications that this is a private hospitality space. An intimate bar is positioned at the rear wall and becomes a focal point later on. Guests can also relax in stylish lounge chairs with tables away from the seating area. This airy space is useful when the show’s not in full swing, allowing escape from the confines of tiered chairs. And when the show is in full swing the space is soon transformed into an unofficial mini-dancefloor.    

Axl Rose – on time, on form

It’s not long before the audience murmur is broken by the shrill war cry that moved millions of units of Appetite for Destruction. Panama-hatted singer Axl Rose is remarkably well-behaved (unlike his facial hair) and commands the stage only 30 minutes or so later than scheduled, dispelling horror stories of 2-hour diva delays. Still, any delays wouldn’t unduly worry Air and Club Plus members who’d no doubt be happy to pass the time grazing on meals at the members’ private restaurant. Indeed, as Amplify’s GM Sally Walder describes it, her team’s attention to guests includes remembering individual names, giving the experience the air of airline first class.    

Now on stage, Rose soon has Birmingham in the palm of his hand kicking off with Welcome to the Jungle and working through to It’s So Easy and Mr. Brownstone. Music inspires everything, especially choice of bottle and our bar mood is decidedly Jack Daniels. Uncle Jack chimes nicely with the lines “I used ta do a little but a little wouldn’t do it, so a little got more and more” from the smash Mr Brownstone, an ode to brown mixtures rather more sinister than Tennessee whisky.

The place is ecstatic, down in the auditorium where fists smack the air and up here where sporadic dancing abounds as more tracks off Appetite for Destruction are wrought live. If fan reaction is anything to go by there’s no indication that Axl Rose is the only original member of Guns N’ Roses on that stage.  It’s a long set ending around 1am bloated by indulgent guitar solos and rumoured breaks for oxygen inhalation. Even if Rose had come on stage an hour late it’s doubtful that Birmingham would have begrudged him.

No sooner have the last strains of G N’ R vacated the eardrums than we find ourselves, a week later, at the NIA in the big rock glare of Blink 182.  Amplify is the official hospitality provider here too and its offering ranges from drinks to fine dining and the pinnacle; the Showcubes hospitality boxes.

It’s June, it’s England, so it’s raining – heavily. The perks of hospitality soon become apparent as we navigate around the black t-shirted queues and into the Olympian Suite. On collecting our Blink 182 tickets from the desk we are whisked up to the reception point for Showcube guests. There are nine of these exclusive VIP hospitality boxes which can accommodate around 20 guests at a cost of approx £800 plus VAT.    

The intimacy of the Showcube suite is in stark contrast to the vastness of the arena just outside. It has to be said that view from the Showcube gallery was better than the LG Arena positioning. We could see Tom DeLonge leading his band from our vantage point here whereas the Guns N’ Roses Showdeck view was mostly via video screen.

Blink-182 have been away from these shores for a while and last year’s Neighborhoods album was many years in the making. So it’s no surprise that the packed house greets the band with a renewed fervour. From the Showcube gallery we witness a mass surge towards the stage. Security had their work cut out from the minute the band opened with Feeling This and it continued as the band belted out old chestnuts like First Date and All The Small Things.

Showcube interior

It was great to be able to dip into the Showcube suite to replenish on drinks, nibbles and industry gossip and then back to the band outside. It’s apparent why this package looks like good sense for corporates wishing to make impact on favoured clients. Guests who want a break from the entertainment can lounge on the sofas and speak to each other audibly and privately in a well-appointed space.

But there are times when this isn’t appropriate. Case in point is when the lighting rig converges on Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker (headline pic) for a maniacal solo performance. Arms a-blur he thrashes out Give the Drummer Some at warp speed. It’s pure energy and it matters none that Barker split his knuckle open during the session. He just continues the out-of-body drum bash with increasing ferocity confirming why he’s widely lauded as a contemporary drumming legend.

The show finale climaxes with explosions from stage cannons dusting the energetic but sated crowd in confetti. With ears ringing it’s back to the suite. Twiglet for the road, anyone..? 

Pav Shergill NEC Corporate media exec (r) & Sally Walder GM, Amplify 

 

 

AMPLIFY Hospitality at a glance

 

Air

  

£2,750 per Membership (inc VAT)

Club Plus

  

£1,650 per Membership (inc VAT)

 

Club Personal

 

£348.00 per Membership (inc VAT)

Club Corporate

 

£492.00 per Membership (inc VAT)

Freestyle

Champagne Reception

y

Y

Y*

Y*

 

Welcome Drinks Reception

 

 

Y

Y

 

3 x complimentary drinks vouchers

 

 

 

 

y

Complimentary Parking

y

y

y

y

y

2 course buffet

 

Y*

 

 

y

3 or 4 course fine dining

 

 

y

y

 

3 course ‘grill’ fine dining

y

Y*

 

 

 

Complimentary Bar

y

Y

 

 

 

VIP Showdeck seating

y

Y*

 

 

 

Complimentary bar on showdeck

y

Y*

 

 

 

Hostess service to the table

y

y

 

 

 

Upgraded seating

 

 

y

y

y

 

*Freestyle can be purchased on a non membership basis and is primarily sold on line as an upgraded standard ticket experience

*subject to restaurant capacity being available/showdeck seats being available/ subject to menu style selected for the show

 

See  www.amplify.co.uk

 

 

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