Just who was so brainless about Bryan?
By FIONNULA HALLIGAN
SADLY for Bryan Adams, who played his heart out and delivered a superb two-hour 15 minute show at the Convention Centre on Wednesday night, he had strummed his way into several uniquely Hongkong problems.
The first was the venue. Two promoters, one for Adams and the other for Peter Gabriel, both tried to book the Queen Elizabeth Stadium for February 10. Neither group could wait for the Urban Council to decide who could play. So the Adams camp turned to Convention Centre general manager, Dan Saunders, and begged to let them have his venue, and Gabriel's promoter, Andrew Bull, had no alternative but to scrap plans for a Hongkong date completely.
That's why Adams ended up at the Convention Centre. How it worked out is a different matter. Everybody in the business acknowledges it is poor venue for a stadium rock concert: the seating is level, the ceilings are low and the sound gets distorted. Having recovered from the Pavarotti fiasco, Saunders wants to get the centre back up on its feet as a venue for bands. But he has yet to realise that when hundreds of fans run to the front, as they did within seconds of Adams taking to the stage, people behindcan't see - even when they stand up on their seats.
And that's just not fair for anybody who shelled out $420 for a ticket.
The problem, however, is also tied in with Hongkong getting au fait ''concert etiquette''. The issue even raised its head at the Hongkong Coliseum, where seats are staggered and everyone can see - and I was abruptly told to sit down during a Simply Red dance number.
As more and more Western acts knock on the territory's door, some confusion appears to be developing as to how one should behave at a rock concert.
Those in the top-priced seats in front of the stage may feel justified to complain about the crush. But they should remember that it is, after all, a rock concert, and people want to dance.
Promoters too have to act responsibly. As ticket prices creep ever closer to the $500 mark - far above the bands' asking price elsewhere - fans need to be given value for money, or else they won't return.
This means they should be treated well and not forced to pay $20 for a soft drink because of the Convention Centre's corkage rates. They should be able to expect a performance to last at least 90 minutes - and not a half-hearted 70 minutes as was the casewith Paula Abdul and Maxi Priest.
And concert-goers have to understand that a rock concert isn't a night out at the Cultural Centre - even if they've paid the same kind of money for their seat.
Bryan Adams gave one of the best shows seen here in recent years. I hope he comes back - but the Convention Centre will have to do a lot of better before it can expect to attract acts of a similar calibre again.