Goo Goo Dolls @ The Academy, Manchester

Legendary rockers Goo Goo Dolls headed down to Manchester on their latest run of U.K. dates with support from Those Damn Crows.

What appeared to be just a rainy evening in Manchester on the 23rd of June 2023, was actually the long-anticipated date when the Goo Goo Dolls bring their Chaos in Bloom tour to The Academy. The lead-up was exciting, as I revised their discography. The anticipation of the night. Imagining the positivity, the dancing, the emotions! For some, it really lived up to expectation. 

Those Damn Crows were opening. The five-piece from Bridgend, Wales, were incredible. Their music has the classic rock sound, and together they have an incredible stage presence. There’s interaction with the crowd, and with each other. It’s fun, energetic and talked of returning to the North later this year! I’m hoping to get myself there.  

Goo Goo Dolls were some-what interactive with the crowd. There was the odd moment of talking, and even a phone call to a sick fan. For the most part, they just played through their setlist. They even stopped Here Is Gone and pointed out a fan that needs help. Their songs were a mixture of new and old, playing the likes of Slide, Better Days, Black Balloon and, of course, Iris.  

I wish I could say more about the artists themselves. Unfortunately, it was hard to get into the mood when I’m once again met with a bad crowd. Those that were lucky enough to be centred in the room, I’m sure had the time of their lives. I’m happy for them. As I was there on photography as well, so I stood to the side of the room in hopes that I don’t block anyone’s view and take away from their night. Usually, photographers are in the pit – but it wasn’t allowed for this show… which, from what I saw of other photographers, was difficult for all. Every other photographer I saw looked stressed, and I can imagine why.  

I don’t have the luxury of height or a modern camera. It was incredibly difficult for me to find a spot where I could find good photos. I’m also certain that tall people look to stand in front of short people. It’s frustrating, especially when they acknowledge the camera before standing in front of you. Ignorance. Once the photography is done, you’d think then I’d be able to fully engage with the music.  

Pushing is to be expected at all shows. I’ve mentioned before about how concert etiquette has disappeared post-pandemic. Everyone’s just there for themselves nowadays. Maybe I had too high hopes for an older crowd, but I was greeted with more entitlement. I remember the days when concert goers were united. You were all there for the same reason and built a community. Everyone now wants their moment, and they don’t care if it’s at the expense of other people’s fun. There’s only one show post-COVID that I’ve experienced this.  

 I wonder if it’s just me? But I look around and see groups of people leaving over half an hour early. I see angry faces, and even tears. I talk to friends, and they’ve been experiencing it. It’s enough to make me reconsider going to see live music. I love live music. It’s just not enjoyable. It’s not just pushing, but assaults. My partner had been pushed completely over by a woman trying to get through. Once she realised that she’d done that to get nowhere, no apology! Just head down and rush the other way. We were pushed back and back into the corner of the bar as more people wanted to be exactly where we stood. By the end of the show, I’d had enough. I left the main room, only to be greeted by more tears and anger.  

Like most, I love Iris. I was looking forward to hearing it live. I’d spent the time leading up to the show thinking about how it’d feel to experience the song live. How did I experience Iris? In the backroom, sat on the floor wondering why I didn’t leave after I’d finish my photography. Embarrassed at the quality of photos I’ll be putting up for Altcorner. Heartbroken, as what should be a safe place has turned into a cause of distress.  

I apologise to Those Damn Crows and Goo Goo Dolls. I wish I could report back on your shows more. I was there for them. I couldn’t pay attention. The music sounded perfect, and performances seem to have gone well. Hopefully I get another chance to see both bands and have a better crowd. This was my worst concert experience yet – and it wasn’t on the bands at all. I beg you, please think of others at shows. Your night won’t be ruined.  

Concerts are better united.  

Vicki Evans

June 27, 2023

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