The Point of the whole refurbishment has now become spectacularly clear. While The O2 is still very much a building site, press were yesterday allowed a sneaky peek of Dublin’s newest gig venue, two-and-a-half months before it’s due to open its doors to Kings Of Leon on December 19th – and State came away very impressed indeed.
To say it’s an improvement on its previous incarnation is to seriously understate the case. Live Nation Ireland CEO Mike Adamson was proud to guide us around the new-look, amphitheatre-style auditorium, which represents a dramatic shift from the multi-purpose large venues we’re used to in Europe. Due to O2’s investment in The Point, a joint venture with Live Nation and Harry Crosbie, they haven’t needed to seek government funding for the project, something normally allocated only to American-model, adaptable sports venues; therefore, The O2 is now purpose built for music, with incredible acoustics and uninterrupted sight-lines from every seat. In fact, Mike Adamson is so confident that ‘every seat is a first-class seat’ that there will be no sky or corporate boxes for V.I.P.s.
The capacity for all-seated gigs will now be 9300 which rises to a 14,500 capacity with the removal of giant, retractable seating tiers. The larger stage area will also attract acts such as Madonna and George Michael, whose previous shows were too large either to be performed, or full-realised, at the old Point. The auditorium has, to all intents and purposes, been designed for the maximum satisfaction of artist and audience alike.
Elsewhere in the building, the design is every bit as impressive. The listed 1878 faÃ§ade has not only been retained but entirely cleaned and rejuvenated, with a clear line visible between the old and the new structures. The famous arches have been pushed back to greater visual effect, and the exposed interior brickwork now has a dual purpose; not only is it aesthetically delightful, it helps create a ‘twin skin’ of walls to control sound emissions.
The foyer’s look is very much in keeping with the Point Depot’s industrial heritage, and is built largely from steel, old-style brickwork and even glass panels exposing the mechanical workings of the escalators. Facilities in the new venue have also been improved dramatically; there will now be hotel-standard dressing rooms for artists, six banks of in-house food outlets, 14 bars and, consequently, 250 toilets.
All the same, it’s very much a work in progress; beavering, blue-hatted Doozers pop out of every orifice around the venue, lightbulbs are still being inserted into the giant O2 logo on the crest of the building, and completions of the Luas line and the adjacent Point Village’s hotel, cinema and shopping facilities are still some two years away. All the same, we await December’s grand opening of The O2 with feverish anticipation.