Advantages nostalgic, fun interacive
Disadvantages could be queses at busy times, not for those with young children
|Is it worth visiting?|
My boyfriend and I do have a keen interest in music and popular culture ts decided to visit the British Music Experience one Sunday lunchtime in in August. I was a teensy bit sceptical , as the adverts for it had a question about which two bands fought the Britpopp battle in 19994. Surely th Oasis- Blur showdown was in 1995, I bought the Country house single in Coventry when seeing my then boyfriend which was definitely in 1995.
Ever since the Beatles crossed the Atlantic Great Britain has been one of the most influential and one of the biggest exporters of pop music in the world. There' museums to pencils prams and lawn mowers so its only fair there should be one commemorating and celebrating Brutish pop's biggest achievements (so no Aggaddoo in there) . This was realised in 1999 with Sheffield's oil fated National Centre for Popular Music. This project funded by the Millennium Fund folded a year later due to low visitor figures and escalating debts. Ten years on and there has been another stab at commemorating Britain's pop music when the British Music Experienced opened at the 02. London has a burgeoning number of visitor attractions all vying for tourist's time and cash so does the British Music Experience cut the mustard and will it survive longer than its Sheffield predecessor?
Anyway, accessing the attraction is fairly easy. The best way to get to the 02 from central London is via the Jubilee Line alighting at north Greenwich its a weekend where there is no Jubilee line (which is a frequentest occurrence) get a mainline train from Charring Cross Waterloo East or london bridge to either Greenwich, Westcombe Park or Charlton then get a local bus to the former Millennium Dome. Once you are there head past the line of restaurants and the cinema to a far corner of he dome and you will find the British Music Experience.
The British Music Experience is very much an all singing all dancing all guitar playing hi tech type of attraction which people either love or loathe. I like it if its done properly and I think they do it well. On arrival the mood is set by a couple of flash swiveling screens playing interconnected music videos whilst you wait for the introductory film to begin. The film presented by Miss indie music Lauren Laverne gives a good overview of what you can see in the exhibition whilst how to work it, which is useful for technical Neanderthals like me. At the heart of it is your smart ticket, which is not just a ticket. Its your passport to your the experience. It works like an Oyster Card. You tap it on to a sensor to star th exhibits and you can gain access to all this information and see how badly you performed at the interactive arras. later on at home via the website.
In each of the rooms there were cases of music memorabilia such as trademark outfits, original artwork and lyrics. I was excited to see the glamorous outfits th 60s girls such as Cilla and D wore, a pair of John Lennon's glasses and even Boy Georges frock, hat and braids which really took me back to childhood. However I was bemused by the inclusion of such “Iconic items” such as Kate Nash and Adele's dresses in the final room. I actually could understand the Spice Girls' dresses being there. I may not like their music them but I recognis e Geri's Union Jack dress is as era defining, as much as Marc Bolan's feather boa.
The Rest of the Edge Zones (nothing to do withU2's permahatted guitarist) contain the more informative parts of the attraction. There are seven of these starting of with a Pre Beatles one (1945-1962) and ending with another unfocused one from the start of Brit pop in 1993 to the present. As you enter each of these rooms music is played from that era and it was great to sing along with old favorites. I found the first one particularly interesting, as it really set the scene and explored the origins of British Popular music from Skiffle, early teen heartthrobs and the birth of music television.
Information about these items could be gleaned from either traditional labels or headphones. You selected the item by using a touch interface meant to look like a piano keyboard, which was a nice touch. I found the final; zone to be unsatisfactory all round (apart from the Britpop case), as it seemed to be a rushed after thought to the other eras skimmking over an era where music vastly changed.The other thing I liked in the Edge zones was a mock Jukebox with examples of all the sub genres of rock from rockabilly to garage and soft metal. Sometimes I'm not sure what all the term mean so this explained it nicely with sound clips. Less successful for me was a touch screen coffee type table with films about different genres and events. These films had interviews with key players in each scene and at over five minutes were a tad too long when you were standing over the table. The back wall of each room was a time line covering important events , artists and song related to in each year. I found these to be information overload and you could spend hours and days exploring all the clips archived there.
The other main attraction was the Dance the Decades video booth where you could learn the dance moves to everything from the Locomotion to rave dancing and then record yourself making a fool of yourself pulling some funky shapes. It took me a while to get near it, as a family of young girls were hogging it. I can understand this , as this would be the main attraction for the younger visitor unaware of The Beadles, the Sex Pistols or Trex. I did have a real laugh trying out some ska dancing to Madness's “One Step Beyond”.
The drawback of such a hi tech exhibition is things tdo break down or don't work properly. We could not get an interactive music mp of Britain to work. That could have been interesting navigating from Strawberry Fields to the Hacienda and Abbey Rroad. Also in the middle was a simpler display of music devices from gramophones to MP3 player' which took me back a bit.
The experience ends with a concert montage then you are lead out via the shop to buy all your musical memorabilia. which varied in price.We spent over two hours in the attraction and could have spent a heck of a lot longer with we had viewed all the films and the information but by that time we were musiced out.
So was it worth it?? its n excellent rainy Sunday afternoon attraction being all in doors combined ith lunch at one of the myriad of chain restaurants in the o2, especilly if you have a 2 for 1 voucher. Boyfriend said he would have paid the full £15 as he got a lot from it being a bit of a muo. it'd recommend the attraction to those with a general interest in pop music, as there really is something for adults of all ages whether they were a mod , punk or a heavy mettaler. I'd also recommend it to those with older children , as the Gibson Studious and Dunce the Decades is a lot of fun. However I would not recommend it for those with younger children, as there really is not enough to keep their interest and it would be an exercise in pushing buttons for the sake if it. I'd also recommend coming early in the day (it opens 11am Monday to Sunday) , so you can actually get near the exhibits especially the interactive ones.
The O2 Bubble
The O2, North Greenwich, London SE10 0DX
020 8463 2000
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