Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Hold the front page: big gigs are recession-proof

As you can see from this thread, quite a few OTR readers ended up with egg on their faces when it came to predicting if the Kings Of Leon show at Slane Castle next May would sell out or not. …

Mon, Nov 8, 2010, 09:22


As you can see from this thread, quite a few OTR readers ended up with egg on their faces when it came to predicting if the Kings Of Leon show at Slane Castle next May would sell out or not. Yes, there will probably be a few “prodution tickets” on sale nearer the date, but the fact of the matter is that the band sold tens of thousands of tickets in a few minutes last Friday morning. That’s quite an achievement in this day and age although, as someone at their record label pointed out to me, the writing was on the wall. The band are at the peak of their popularity, have a huge audience in Ireland and are an annual best-seller here when it comes to album releases. People weren’t buying tickets because it was Slane’s 30th anniversary – only Lord Henry believes that old guff about the special nature of a show in a big hilly field in the middle of Co Meath – they were buying tickets because it was Kings Of Leon.

But it’s not the only big gig which is defying the current law of gigonomics where shows are downgraded rather than upgraded. On the day that the Slane headliner was finally announced (MCD can now save some cash by just sticking on a CD before Kings Of Leon go onstage rather than booking some big support acts), the demand for Take That tickets crashed the usually reliable Ticketmaster system. They sold 82,000 tickets for one Croke Park show in jig-time and quickly added a second. It seems the masses want to see Take That and their elephant (and I’m not refering to the return of Robbie to the fold).

And that’s not all in the mega-gig department. This coming Wednesday, The Script’s show at the Aviva Stadium will go on sale. Given that 60,000 tickets for their Irish tour next March sold out in a few hours a few weeks ago, ticket prices for the Dublin 4 show start at a fairly reasonable €44.20 (plus TM charges) and promoters MCD will promote this with great gusto all week, it’s probably a safe bet that this one will also have the “house full” signs up early doors. The following day, it’s the turn of Bon Jovi to get those Ticketmaster pokes with their RDS show going on sale. Seeing as they’ve already done standalone large capacity shows at Croker (2006) and Punchestown (2008), don’t be surprised if this one also goes fast.

So what’s the reason for such mass flashing of the credit cards? Is it the obvious one that we’re talking about huge bands playing to their strengths and simply pulling the crowds that their stature guarantees? After all, the acts mentioned above are regulars on the Irish gigging scene so it’s not as if punters don’t know what to expect. Are audiences placing their trust in recognised brands? Are Take That, KIngs Of Leon, The Script and Bon Jovi the musical versions of the Chocolate Hobnob, the Jammie Dodger, the Fig Roll and the Ginger Nut? Remember that we saw fast sellouts like this two years ago for summer 2009 outdoor shows by Oasis, AC/DC and Take That (although the Coldplay show did take longer to shift the tickets).

One interesting theory which was put forward on Twitter by Hilary Allen was the “inverse lipstick” effect. The lipstick theory says that consumers will swap expensive luxuries for cheaper thrills (such as lipstick) during an economic downtown. But the inverse might also hold true: people may be going out less, but they will splurge and spend more on one big, memorable event. It will be interesting to if this mania for mega-gigs holds up when tickets for “Europe’s Favourite Rock’n'roll Weekend” (self-proclaimed) go on sale.