Back with another venue accessibility review! This time, O2 Institute2 in Birmingham.
(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)
Once again, I was not the one that actually bought these tickets because once again it was part of birthday plans from my best mate Dev (she bought us tickets to Bring Me The Horizon in Birmingham for my 2020 birthday present and this was part of the 2021 celebrations). What can I say? I have the best pals. It was a case of buying one general admission ticket and then emailing the venue with the order number to request a space on the accessible platform and a carer ticket. I was pretty sure they’d probably have my disability “proof” on file since I’m often at venues in the city and I believe the O2 venues are all linked in some way (although I could be wrong) but I had the proof ready to send if necessary.
Travel wise, there wasn’t actually much travelling to do once Dev was in Birmingham. Since I live fairly close to the venue, it was just a 30 minute or so walk into Digbeth, through some of the works going on in the area.
Experience & Seating
On arrival at the venue, it was clear there was already a pretty decent queue, probably since (as far as I’m aware) there were shows in all 3 of the Institute rooms that night, so the queue wasn’t just our gig. There was also fencing cutting off half the width of the pavement (those works I mentioned earlier). Once we were in the queue our tickets and COVID passes were checked. We were then directed past the main entrance to the accessible entrance which had a ramp. I did get a little stuck on this ramp and have to be helped in, but I’m not sure if it was an issue with my approach or the actual ramp/entrance. Once in the building, we walked along a short hallway and turned into the main foyer where everyone else was entering. The Institute2 is on the entrance level, so we headed through a door and into the venue.
When we entered the venue, I noticed that both merch and bar were on the main floor, down a set of stairs from the access platform, so Dev headed down to grab merch and water. I also noticed that there was a metal barrier in front of us and closer than the actual permanent platform. Given that I wanted to be as close as possible, we decided to shift the metal barrier out of the way and keep drinks on the shelf at the back of the platform to prevent any possible spills on important electrical equipment.
After a little while, a member of security came and pulled us back from the main barrier and told us we’d have to stay where we were told to be (about mid platform) or the metal barrier would go back in. They said it was something to do with not spilling drinks on the electrical equipment below us. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the intention but like, we already HAD a plan to have the metal barrier out of the way, be at the platform barrier AND keep the equipment unharmed? Needless to say, we moved back to the platform barrier later on and no one else said anything, so I think us moving the metal barrier was actually a non-issue.
In terms of the actual show: As Everything Unfolds, Yours Truly and Holding Absence were all AMAZING. I’ll admit I hadn’t really heard any of these bands when Dev suggested the gig (I took the “it’s my birthday, it’s in Brum, fuck it why not?” approach) but I thoroughly enjoyed the show. So much so that, when Dev asked my thoughts on the show, my response was “fancy a road trip to Sheffield tomorrow [for the next show of tour]?
We didn’t make it to Sheffield because they didn’t have any space left on the access platform, but (SPOILER) I did make it to another show on this tour and there WILL be another access review from this tour.
Overall, FANTASTIC show and a fairly accessible venue (other than getting stuck on the way through the door and the minor barrier issue with security) .
Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)
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