The ones that get away
You’d be forgiven for thinking that every live act on the circuit, big or small, finds their way to Ireland. Every week, there are more announcements about upcoming shows – this week, you’d Elbow (O2, Dublin, March 31), The Hold …
You’d be forgiven for thinking that every live act on the circuit, big or small, finds their way to Ireland. Every week, there are more announcements about upcoming shows – this week, you’d Elbow (O2, Dublin, March 31), The Hold Steady (Academy, Dublin, Feb 11), The Jolly Boys (Button Factory, Dublin, Dec 11), Eliza Doolittle (Academy, Dublin, Dec 18) and Feeder (Academy, Dublin, Feb 5) planning trips to Ireland. Tonight in Dublin, you have a choice between Warpaint (Crawdaddy) or Peter Broderick. Last night, it was Chiddy Bang, Arrested Development or Future Islands. We’ve never had it so good when it comes to the quantity of gigs.
Yet there are also a ton of acts who never make it over here or, if they do, they’re on second from the bottom on an Oxegen or Electric Picnic stage. Last week in Manchester, I spotted posters for upcoming shows in the city by Gold Panda, Tweak Bird, Tame Impala, The Naked & Famous, Diamond Rings, Best Coast, Tanlines and Delorean, all acts who won’t be heading across the Irish Sea any time soon and more’s the pity.
Promoters will argue that there isn’t a demand for that list of acts – and yes, some of them are probably at the early stages of their career and may not be worth a full room over here – but there’s probably as much demand for them as there was for some of the visitors who have come this way in recent times. As with all visiting acts, though, the real deal-breaker is costs. Bringing an act who are touring Britain over to Ireland costs more, which leads to higher ticket prices and, as we know, there is considerable punter resistance to this.
Costs also explain why at least two, if not three, Irish promoters said no to the Wu-Tang Clan gig when that show was offered around this summer. While you can be sure you’d have filled the venue with every young and old b-boy and b-girl in the land to see the Wu in full-ish flight, the promoter knew that it just wasn’t going to pan out financially. The $35,000 or so fee was just the start of things – add in the hotels, bottles of Cristal and Hennessy and bills for the towels they’d wave around onstage and you were looking at something that was more hassle than it was worth.
You can probably expect even more ones to get away in the coming period. Right now, acts need touring income to survive, which is why there are so many acts touring in the first place, and are therefore putting pressure on promoters and venues in terms of fees. Promoters know that punters just don’t have the cash in their pockets any more to go gigging two, three or four nights a week, as was once the case, so they have become quite cagey when it comes to swapping contracts in the first place. Instead, new acts are herded like cattle onto summer festival bills where anyone who wants to see them probably misses them. It’s safe to say too that the days of Irish promoters battling one another for new acts and pushing fees (and agents’ commissions) upwards are over for now.