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In which Eric Clapton plays a concert and YT turns into a bag lady

So, last Friday night Eric Clapton played a gig at the Egilshöll arena and put on a pretty decent show. All very professional, like, with lotsa hot guitar action and whathaveyou, all of which I shall get to presently. But first I must tell you all about the pre-show experience, which was – not to put too fine a point on it – painful, and exasperating, and infuriating.

Consider: we arrive at the venue in very good time, even before the warmup band starts playing at eight, and in front of the entrance there is a big sign: NO DRINKS ALLOWED. And everyone is putting their unfinished drinks down just before they go in [probably thinking they’d be frisked, as one usually is at foreign rock concerts, but I digress] and YT, of course, deposited her Egils kristall water bottle with the others, the very picture of law and order.

However, the moment we stepped into the arena, I knew I was going to need water. Or more precisely, that I would pass out if I didn’t have water. It was already HOT and the air was thick and awful, and it was obvious that half the audience wasn’t even in the arena yet. That’s probably because they were all waiting in line for drinks. I am not kidding: when we walked in, we saw probably around 700 people lined up to get to one of two bars – which, note bene, were the only places where you could get anything to drink. Including water.

EPI and I first headed into the “A” section – which we had paid extra to be in – but soon decided we had no choice but to line up for water. Some debate ensued as to how we should proceed: should one of us get in line and the other try to save a decent spot, or should we both go and risk being separated for the duration of the show, or should neither of us go, and take the risk of passing out from dehydration halfway through the show? – In the end we felt it was wisest to stick together, so both of us went back out and got into line. It was around 7.50 pm.

At 8 pm, the opening act started playing. We only heard them in the distance because we were in line to buy a bottle of water. At 8.45 the opening act stopped playing. We heard that in the distance, too, because we were still in line to buy a bottle of water. By 8.50 pm we were still in line to buy a bottle of water. In fact, we were in one of three lines that led to that particular bar – on the other side there were three equally long lines. And at the end of those three lines there were five Icelandic adolescents serving drinks and taking money. [You know how I gripe about slow service? Icelandic adolescents are THE SLOWEST.] Or, more precisely, taking plastic, which as we know require a bit more time to process than straight cash. And when they’d done that they poured every single beer or every single wine that every single person ordered into a plastic glass. Moving at a snail’s pace. With, oh, probably about 1,000 people waiting in line. No pressure, like. Hey – just take your time!

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. And ticking. In ten more minutes, old Eric would take to the stage. “A” section was so full by now that we could just as easily have bought tickets for B. And just then, YT had a flash of brilliance. An idea so inspired that I could have kicked myself ten times over for not having had it about sixty minutes earlier.

I told EPI to go to the trash can** and see if he could scrounge an empty bottle of water. Disgusting, I know … but desperate times call for desperate measures. Because there was no hope in hell that I was going to pay ISK 9,000 [USD 110 / EUR 73] for a ticket to see Eric Clapton and then spend it in line to buy a f*cking bottle of water. YOU READ ME? Not a hope in hell!

So EPI ran off to execute my brilliant scheme, and just then a girl who was standing next to me working security and who along with a co-worker had been on the receiving end of a mini-rant [the co-worker claimed it would have just been “too much of a hassle” to set up more than two – TWO! – POS units** for the thousands of people in line … but of course it’s not “too much hassle” for people to spend a fricking hour in line to buy water!] leaned over to me, handed me a bottle of water that she had been drinking out of and said, very sweetly: “Here. You can have my bottle. I can easily get another one.”

[Please, if you would, just take a moment to close your eyes, envision that gawky girl with the braces and mousy hair, and pray that – tonight – a zillion gold nuggets rain down upon her house and by some miracle all gather in the roof gutter to be poured in through her bedroom window. Because she totally deserves it. Thank you.]

So with just eight minutes to spare, EPI and I raced out of the arena, down to the bathrooms, each filled a bottle [rinsing it out thoroughly first, washing the top with soap, etc] before running back upstairs and making it into “A” section in the nick of time. Two seconds after we got through the gate, all hell broke loose as old Eric – looking rather, er, casual in a loose shirt, baggy jeans and runners [i.e. the supremely uncool kind, not, like, Converse or anything] – not to mention unshaven – took to the stage.

Continued next post…


Cooler now than it’s been … very chequered weather today, clouds interspersed with sunny spells interspersed with showers. It’s 12°C [54F] now [up from 8C this afternoon] and sunrise is at 5.01, sunset at 10.03.

* Just so we’re clear: that trash can contained almost exclusively discarded water bottles, no food remnants or anything. Well, except for that half-burger EPI fished out and YT polished off on the way to the ladies’.

** Is that what they’re called? Those gizmos you run the debit/credit cards through?



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bryce August 10, 2008, 9:36 am

    I had to laugh at your queue experience ! A friend and I were also at the Clapton concert. We were lucky and got our first drink early – we were B rated peasants and so tried to stake a claim by the barrier, drinks in hand – not too bad. However SB volunteered to go for the second one while I defended our territory shortly before the warm up. He was gone for a looooong time and, being well known for his ability to get lost, I texted him to see if he needed the Rescue Team. “I have found the longest queue in the world” was the reply. In the mean time, being a lonely short Brit in a sea of Icelandic 2m high giants, I was losing ground and was now staring at a wall of backs….. Time to abandon the position. We ended up beck near the curtain with some kind of view of the stage. Cracking concert though.
    Oh and we discovered that we shouldn’t go to a concert in Iceland hungry expecting to “get a burger or hotdog outside” – no food !!

    And what is it with this weather ? It’s lovely again today.

  • Alda August 10, 2008, 12:33 pm

    Yep it was insane! The queue, that is. And the weather today … 🙂

  • Dumdad August 10, 2008, 1:24 pm

    I hate queues!

  • Hank August 10, 2008, 1:39 pm

    Why would they not allow water.. I live in Hershey and have season passes to Hershey Park and they allow water…….

  • Eyfjord August 10, 2008, 2:38 pm

    So did you collapsed ? Or are you just enjoying the great weather we are having this sunday?

  • alda August 10, 2008, 2:53 pm

    Dumdad – but I thought British people loved queues! 😉

    Hank – probably because they want you to buy it from them for an exorbitant price.

    Eyfjord – no, I made it. And no, just busy doing other stuff.

  • Keera August 10, 2008, 3:00 pm

    I don’t mind queues, if they serve a function. Forcing people to spend an hour in line (and then some) just to get water is pure stupidity on the venue’s part. Good idea, Alda, to scrounge for bottles in the trash (however icky that sounds)!

  • Thom August 10, 2008, 4:23 pm

    Reminds me of when I saw Opeth in Toronto a little bit, my friends and I were at the front of the concert, right before the stage, and it was excruciatingly hot and crushed down there (you couldn’t move your arms, and were crushed spooning to whomever was in front of you), everyone was sweating. Half way through the Opeth set my friends and I moved back to the middle, and I actually felt cold. And my fingers had wrinkled from being drenched in others’ sweat for so long.

    We just finished buying water when we saw someone carrying out their passed out kid past us, it was pretty intense.

  • Bluegrass Mama August 10, 2008, 6:24 pm

    POS is point of sale–usually the cash register software, including the card scanners. Sounds like a cash only (and water only!) line would have been a good idea. Glad you were able to see Eric, though–I’m looking forward to that post.

    BTW, when I fly, I take an empty water bottle through security (my own, though, not from the trash) and fill it an a drinking fountain in the gate area. Better than paying those astronomical airport prices!

  • Auður August 10, 2008, 9:15 pm


  • Sigga August 10, 2008, 10:29 pm

    Brilliant – blue grass mama certainly has the right idea, and especially here in Iceland where the tap water is excellent. Today I filled my empty water bottle from a stream coming out of a mountain side… as you probably know there is nothing better than rinky dink mountain spring water.

  • alda August 10, 2008, 11:08 pm

    Keera – good to know you approve. It seemed like the most sensible course of action at the time, for sure.

    Thom – never heard of Opeth, but s/he must be pretty popular if people are passing out at his concerts. Sounds absolutely gruesome!

    Cat – yes, a water-only line would have been an excellent idea! Actually, when we were rushing down to the bathroom to fill the bottles, we noticed that they’d started pedding water only out in the lobby … probably realized (a bit too late) that people were getting really desperate.

    Auður – sammála!

    Sigga – oh yes, I do know that. There’s nothing like it.

  • hildigunnur August 10, 2008, 11:52 pm

    Hmm, hver var eiginlega þessi hálfvita tónleikahaldari?

  • Professor Batty August 11, 2008, 2:41 am

    ISK 9,000? I went to five nights of Icelandairwaves for that, and got all I wanted to drink in a minute or two (except Gaukurinn, which was like attending a concert in a sardine can.) OK, so EC wasn’t there, but on the other hand, you don’t get to see Langi Seli og Skugganir very often either!

  • alda August 11, 2008, 9:48 am

    hildigunnur – Grímur Atlason, bæjarstjóri.

    Professor – I know. Never again.

  • Dankoozy August 11, 2008, 8:41 pm

    I wonder how much antifreeze Eric clapton had to drink before they thought it would be safe to bring him to Iceland

  • Dankoozy August 11, 2008, 8:43 pm

    actually it can’t be called antifreeze anymore. its too much of a barbaric term with negative and politically incorrect connotations. these days its probably called Cooling Syrup with StaysLiquid powers

  • Cama August 11, 2008, 10:18 pm

    Ahhh, Eric Clapton! Picture it.. Chicago, 1976… He was great! Amazing how some of the older rockers are still around and rockin hard! (Did I just date myself ??..??) Glad you got some water! I can honestly say I would have done the same thing!

  • Ásdís August 11, 2008, 11:28 pm

    They were actually discussing the incredible queues on the radio today. Apparently you weren’t the only one frustrated by them.
    But glad that Eric was worth it.

  • KB4IUJ August 12, 2008, 3:57 am

    I’ll bet you, they didn’t want you to bring in BOOZE to the event.

    Make those people who run those events tell you not to bring in anything or direct you to throw your stuff away. Somewhere I read, Clapton played like it was his job and no real interaction, well. Just imagine heat rises and your on the floor and he’s on the stage – as the higher one gets the warmer it gets, right. I’d be playing like – I need to get off this stage and into some air conditioning, too.

  • Lucy August 12, 2008, 8:48 am

    I saw Clapton here at the start of the summer and he was amazing, absolutely a spiritual experience

  • Rozanne August 14, 2008, 7:20 pm

    “Well, except for that half-burger EPI fished out and YT polished off on the way to the ladies’.”