Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Is downsizing the new “unforeseen circumstances”?

There have been a few games of musical chairs going on in Dublin venues over the last week. Yeasayer’s show was moved at short notice from the 1,300 capacity Olympia to the 850 capacity Academy. Arrested Development moved from the …

Tue, Oct 26, 2010, 13:53


There have been a few games of musical chairs going on in Dublin venues over the last week. Yeasayer’s show was moved at short notice from the 1,300 capacity Olympia to the 850 capacity Academy. Arrested Development moved from the 750 capacity Button Factory to the 300 capacity Crawdaddy. At the weekend, En Vogue were due to play the 1,300 capacity Tripod but found themselves throwing shapes in Crawdaddy instead. Now comes news that A Flock Of Seagulls are also on the move, from the Button Factory to Crawdaddy.

Interestingly, there has been little or no explanation from the promoters about these last minute venue changes. Sadly, it seems that they’ve stopped using “unforeseen circumstances” to explain why they’re doing this sort of thing. And you can be sure that no promoter is going to tell you that the gigs have flopped and they’ve had to move the show to take the dirty look off the venue. No, the truth is that the promoters and the agent thought the band would do a certan amount of tickets when, in fact, the band weren’t worth even half that. Chalk it down to the band themselves (three of the four above are really trading on past glories), greedy agents and deluded promoters.

But at least the acts are still coming to Dublin. Scissor Sisters have just announced that they’ve canned nine shows on their European tour due to “funding issues”. It’s not the first time that this has happened to a high-profile act (Counting Crows were also hit by the credit crunch in 2008, though the promoters tried to fob off enquiries with some other aul’ excuse first) and I’m sure there will be others to come.

While there are certain shows which are still reasonably recession-proof – especially the increasingly rare ones which sell out the minute they go on sale – the vast majority of gigs will require the promoter to do a lot of hoof-work which he didn’t have to do during the boom times.

For instance, Take That have just announced that they’ll be playing Croke Park next June. I fully expect that show to sell out immediately (especially as it’s going on sale this week round about the same time that people get paid) and another one to be added. But it’s often the second show which slows things down. It’s easy enough to sell out one show, but the second one is often a much harder sell. For instance, I’m sure I don’t need to remind people of the massive brouhaha here and elsewhere in August over Arcade Fire’s forthcoming shows at Dublin’s O2. While word was that the first show sold out in jig-time – oddly, there are still tickets available for it, per Ticketmaster – it’s no surprise that the second one is still on sale.

Naturally, it’s not the only unsold show on Ticketmaster’s books at present. It will not come as a surprise to many OTR readers to note that there are still tickets on sale for the much hyped tour by The Commitments, for instance.

If there’s a thread to all of this, it’s that anyone who thought that the gig business had bottomed out is being a little too optimistic. Sure, as I know every promoter will remind me, there are still shows which sell out and sure, as I know every promoter will also say, not every single show sold out at the drop of a hat in the good times. But at a time when every band on the planet looking to make cash has to tour to do so, we’re looking at a situation where supply far out-strips demand: too many bands on the road and not enough paying punters to go around. Don’t be surprised if there’s a rake of other last-minute venue switches in the coming months.

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