London’s Premier Concert Venues – Wembley Stadium

When it comes to a venue in London, Wembley Stadium is as famous as they come. It is also one of London’s Premier Concert Venues. Probably most famously of all it hosted the Live Aid concert in the 1980s which was beamed on TV around the world.

The iconic arch over Wembley Stadium

The iconic arch over Wembley Stadium

Today it is a much changed structure whilst maintaining an appeal to a wide audience. Although normal capacity has been reduced on safety grounds, the facilities have been brought up to the 21st Century.

 

An Icon

There is little doubt that Wembley Stadium is an icon. One of London’s landmarks and famous throughout the world.

In sport it is home to the FA Cup Final in football, home to the Challenge Cup Final in Rugby League. Also as the national stadium it plays host to the England Football Team. This is a stadium built for crowds.

As one of London’s premier concert venues it now has a notable arch which makes the site visible from a long distance away. It can be seen from miles around. However for me I prefer and remember fondly the white twin towers which used to stand at the main entrance before the stadium was rebuilt.

Wembley logo

Wembley logo

 

Transport

Getting to Wembley Stadium is not too much of an issue although it is far on the west side of London, close to Heathrow. From the road you can access it following a short drive from the M25.

Train links run from the city and the west as well as the option of taking the bus.

We arrived at Wembley Stadium via tube. The London Underground is our preferred mode of transport in London, quick and direct. There are a number of tube stops in the Wembley area. We took the Jubilee Line to Wembley Park. This arrives at the famous Wembley Way, a walk way which leads directly to Wembley Stadium.

Since we were based close to London Bridge for our stay in London, catching the Jubilee Line was very easy for us.

On leaving Wembley Stadium at the end of the concert it appeared that the tube was a very popular choice for others too. The main act of the night, Robbie Williams indicated that there were 68,000 people in Wembley Stadium. Can you just imaging the flow of people when so many of those are trying to fit into one tube station?

Wembley Way as thousands leave to catch the Tube home

Wembley Way as thousands leave to catch the Tube home

To be honest the flow of people did keep moving although it did take a fair period of time. Under the circumstances I can understand that.

If you are claustrophobic then it may well be a very unpleasant experience for you. The queues and then the tube ride home was very packed, like sardines in a tin.

The show finished at 10:45pm. We managed to arrive at London Bridge on our direct Jubilee Line tube at around 12:25am.

 

Surroundings

Wembley Stadium has long been held in the history of London and England. Host to many events and now one of London’s Premier Concert Venues.

As we arrived around 2 hours prior to the show beginning we thought that we would wander and catch something to eat before going in. It seemed that others had the same idea to, or at least to get a few drinks first.

Even though it was a Friday, many of the pubs and eateries in close proximity to Wembley Park station were packed out with many people drinking in the street outside the entrances of the pubs.

There was a host of fast food shops, Indian restaurants, plus newsagents and off licenses. Since it was so busy we ended up walking for around 10 minutes looking for somewhere less busy. Finally we opted to go into the Quality Inn, close to Wembley Arena. We managed to get a decent meal and a few drinks without the place being overly crowded.

Once we walked towards the entrance to Wembley Stadium itself we noticed that there was a large TGI Fridays plus a selection of burger vans and drink trucks.

The surrounding area has clearly been developed in recent times as there is a plethora of new hotels in touching distance of Wembley Stadium. This included the Ibis, Holiday Inn and a very smart looking Hilton Hotel.

 

Entry

As we walked around Wembley Stadium to our entry point, entrance A, it was noticeable that quite a few of the turn-styles had queues maybe 20-30 people deep. By the time we arrived at our entrance this didn’t seem to be the case at all. Using our bar coded tickets we were able to go straight in.

It was then that we encountered the Wembley Stadium security check. This was actually a very enjoyable experience believe it or not. The member of staff who attended to us was in high humour and made lots of funny jokes as we chatted away.

We were even more impressed at his consideration and understanding. The rules of the Stadium, like The O2 and other places is that you can bring in plastic drinks bottles as long as the lid is removed. My bride had a bottle of water so removed the lid. The security guard soon picked up on the fact that my bride had medication with her and said it was okay for her to replace the lid due to her tablets.

We were both very impressed with how considerate and understanding this guard was.

We then had to ascend some long escalators to arrive at our seats in the upper tier. I was quite amused at this stage since Wembley Stadium seemed to have its own “Escalator Supervisors”. I was wondering if they were then in case somebody didn’t know how to use an escalator?

An escalator steward

An escalator steward

All of the staff at Wembley Stadium seemed in good humour and made it a pleasant experience for us. No jumped up power crazed people in uniform here.

 

Seating

We entered Wembley Stadium in full knowledge that it is a sporting venue. As such, like many a football stadium we weren’t expecting the greatest of seats. Plastic fold up seats with little leg room.

In reality they were plastic fold up seats however the leg room appeared fairly adequate. I would say there was more legroom than could be found in seats at The O2 Arena across in Greenwich.

Leg room at Wembley

Leg room at Wembley

There were also no armrests with drinks holders attached. No armrests at all and that actually suited me fine. I found the seating at Wembley Stadium very appropriate and was comfortable being sat there for more than 3 hours.

 

Refreshments

Like any major football stadium we knew that Wembley Stadium is not going to be renowned for great refreshments. This is probably why we decided to eat before entering. The selections consisted of typical fast food and a limited range of drinks.

It was actually the area of drinks which really annoyed me. Prices were ridiculously high, they always are when they have such a monopoly on the supply.

I was looking for some alcohol since we were at a music concert. The selections included red or white wine, Pimms (which I don’t drink) or Carlsberg lager. Well permission to rant please!

This is our National Stadium! For the nation.

I am from the north of England and grew up drinking bitter, a dark ale. There was not a sign of a bitter or dark ale in sight. I don’t like lager and I like Carlsberg even less. Then at £5 a pint I felt very ripped off.

When you come from the North of England you still get this sense of a North-South divide in England. A view from each side that the other is very insular and either disrespectful or ignorant of the needs and aspirations of the other. Well as a national stadium I think Wembley Stadium should cater for people from all over the country. I could just walk outside and find a pub serving Tetley’s, another form of bitter or real ale. Yet as soon as I’m inside for more than three hours I can’t select a drink which brings pride to many in the nation. I don’t like lager and I hate Carlsberg.

Okay, rant mode off.

 

View

Sat in the upper tier and in such a large sporting ground we knew in advance that the view for us at Wembley Stadium would not be great. We were sat around the half way line and the stage was to our left.

Robbie Williams, the star on a star

Robbie Williams, the star on a star

The performers were very small to our naked eyes but we could make them out, just. Big screens were a great aid for us.

A large part of the crowd was on the ground, in the bear pit as Robbie Williams called it, although I prefer the term “mosh pit”. They had a fantastic view, standing room only.

 

Acoustics

Wembley Stadium in its various guises has held many rock and pop concerts. Famously it has held Live Aid and Live 8, the latter in the newer version of this national venue.

It is clear that from all this experience the show managers know exactly what sound equipment is required and where to position it.

Watching Robbie Williams live at Wembley Stadium was a great sound experience, everything was crystal clear. It is little surprise there were so many of us dancing away either on the pitch or in the aisles.

 

The Show

Well what can I say about the show? Olly Murs live at Wembley Stadium followed by 2 solid hours of Robbie Williams! In one of the largest premier concert venues in London the setting was perfect.

The crowd were buoyed by the music and the stage show was enticing.

The star of the show, Mr Williams himself entered proceedings by appearing at the top of a large scale make up of his face. Then he glided down a wire to the stage to open the show with the highly predictable although uplifting “Let Me Entertain You”.

The show lasted 2 fantastic hours. From time to time some mock model heads rolled out onto stage, some with balloons, many to climb on (by Robbie that is not the crowd). However a highlight for me was the underrated “Me and My Monkey”. With great light animation the mock face of Robbie was made to look like a monkey.

Me and my monkey

Me and my monkey

The encore was the highlight for many. Wembley Stadium filled with the sound of my favourite Robbie song “Feel” then climaxed with the classic “Angels”.

Overall Olly Murs was a great warm up act who got the crowd buzzing. Robbie Williams, well love him or loathe him he is full of ego and charisma. To my delight and some surprise he was pitch perfect all night. Accepted that he is not the best vocalist in the world, he is certainly one of most entertaining performers.

In conclusion it was a great night at a great venue for such a large concert. The sound was loud and proud, the atmosphere was contagious and there was enough room to sit, stand or walk.

The stage for Robbie Williams at Wembley 2013

The stage for Robbie Williams at Wembley 2013

I was disappointed with the choice of drinks when in a venue for so long. It also took some time to leave the venue via the Tube but this was more a factor on the sheer volume of people. If it wasn’t so late then maybe we would not all be in such a rush to leave.

I think that as one of London’s premier concert venues, Wembley Stadium is a great place to visit for a concert or a great sporting event.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I would love to see a sporting event there one day. We have the same problem here with many of our stadiums in NYC – high priced beer and crappy food. At least it seems you saw a terrific concert.

    Just to let you know it seems Comment Luv just wont’t work for me on your blog since you switched to this new format.

    • says

      Hi Phil. Yes these concert venues do have a complete monopoly over refreshments, you just know that you are going to be ripped off. But as you say it was a great concert and I’ve waited nearly 15 years to see this guy do his own show.

      Thanks for the update on Comment Luv. I think all these recent plugin updates has caused a conflict again. I’ll have to get researching and work it out. Don’t you just love WordPress!

  2. says

    That reminds me of Robbie Williams concert I attended in Brussels last month. The show itself was incredible. Although Robbie got much fatter and older (would you agree?), he still knows how to entertain the audience. I had an incredible time! Prices of food and drinks were also ridiculously high. A can of small coke costed us 5 euros.

    • says

      Hi Agness, yes I’m looking forward to your Robbie concert review :-) He is the ultimate entertainer. Older absolutely, fatter? Maybe from where we were it was not too easy to tell. He has had issues in the past but he certainly does not lack energy and is the ultimate performer. Fantastic show. I think his new album is pretty naff yet he has such a catalogue of brilliant hits that you can’t help but love him.

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