Bob-bob-bobbing along since 1996

Worst experience at a Ford venue since Lincoln

Monday, November 14, 2011

Last week the missus and I went to see Reba McEntire, plus Eden's Edge, Steel Magnolia and The Band Perry. (Of those three, I'm only familiar with Steel Magnolia, because we watched them win season 2 of Can You Duet?.) She's a big fan of Reba, and while I very much enjoyed the sitcom, I have only a passing familiarity with the music. Nonetheless, I was eager since I've never been to a country concert before.

So the Ford Center just opened here, and its construction and necessity has been a big debate in town. Most of the critics have pointed out lack of parking, coupled with the less desirable lifeforms of downtown after dark, and the smaller capacity than our existing facility. So how does it stand up?

While parking wasn't necessarily a problem, we had a ten-minute walk in the wind and cold. It was free, which is a nice switch from venues in larger cities. On the plus side, had we been heading for home afterwards, it would have taken us less than twenty minutes from the end of the show. We also never felt in any danger, largely because we were among a throng both coming and going. Saftey in numbers.

But what of the arena itself? Did. Not. Like. Sure, it's all modern and clean and stuff, but yeah, it's small. I mean, I'm sure its great for Division II basketball and stuff, but it just didn't seem to have a lot of space. In addition, the food could use some work and was hideously overpriced (The nacho cheese was cold, and five bucks for a chicken finger? Seriously? Yes, I said a chicken finger.)

Most disappointing was the seating. The missus waited in line and paid a lot money for floor seats. Image the dismay when we got to the seats to find we couldn't see the stage. Literally. Seats consisted of folding chairs, concert-goers are packed in like sardines, and the view consisted of the backs of heads. The stage wasn't raised more than probably six feet, so to see anything she stood on the chair, which the ushers immediately nixed.

Eden's Edge was the first act, and she was peeved not being able to see, so we went out to smoke, which consisted of a trek around literally the entire building and down two flights of stairs. Fair enough, smokers get the shaft, but the least they could do is have some speakers or something so you can still hear the show. While we were there, one of the security personnel advised us to stand, even if everyone around us was sitting. We went back to find Steel Magnolia was nearly finished. We tried to stand at the edge of the floor (not blocking anyone) but we got shooed. We went back out to smoke while The Band Perry played.

The missus was quite visibly upset at this point. She left to what I thought was use the restroom before Reba came out, but came back to tell me an usher had said we could move to empty seats in the tiered seating provided no one showed up to claim them.


Reba McEntire
I still can't get a decent photo from my phone. This was the best one.

So there are decent seats in this place, and we could actually see the stage, and we could see Reba and her band quite clearly. Fortunately, her portion of the show was quite good (even for a non-fan such as me) and all ended well.

So the moral of the story is if you're going to get tickets for a concert at the Ford Center, eschew the floor seats, they just ain't worth it. Had we known that, we could have saved seventy-five bucks. As it is now, it's gonna have to be one helluva humdinger of a show to lure me back to that place.