Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Yes, there are some outdoor shows which are selling

We write here a lot about under-performing shows because they’re the ones which catch the eye, but there are times when you need to acknowledge that promoters sometimes get it right with those big outdoor shows. Just look at Snow …

Tue, Feb 28, 2012, 08:50


We write here a lot about under-performing shows because they’re the ones which catch the eye, but there are times when you need to acknowledge that promoters sometimes get it right with those big outdoor shows. Just look at Snow Patrol and Florence & The Machine in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Now that’s what we call BOOM! 45,500 tickets gone in a couple of hours because the promoter got the billing right. No need for huffing and puffing over that one, no need for a rake of radio ads after the tickets went on sale, no need to be sticking any of the bands on any TV show which will have them. Tickets on sale, tickets sold out, game over, move on. Good call MCD.

Of course, there are plenty of bigger shows sitting on the promoter’s books which are still waiting for punters. Look at the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Croker, for instance. Even the addition of Noel Gallagher and The Vaccines hasn’t added a sold-out sign to this one. Similarly, you’re likely to hear a lot of ads for Madonna’s show at the Aviva before the gig rolls along in July. Yes, she is the new Neil Diamond.

This summer, mainstream punters had a desire to see Snow Patrol and Florence & The Machine and that was what got them out to buy the tickets when they went on sale. You could argue that RHCP and Madonna are bigger acts (and they are, all told, when you take worldwide appeal and sales into account), but they’re not the ones that fans are willing to go mad with the credit card on day one to see in a big field this summer. This summer, the bona-fide superstar acts are the ones which require the heavy lifting when it comes to promotion.

On this score, it will also be interesting to see how the various festivals perform over the coming months. Given that Oxegen isn’t happening – and we reckon it won’t be returning to Punchestown after MCD director Caroline Downey-Desmond’s fume about the cost and effectiveness of the guards in Co Kildare at the Hot Press Music Show at the weekend (she also had a pop at the Electric Picnic, which is weird given that she is a part-owner of that event via Gaiety Investments’ share of Festival Republic) – all eyes will be on how the Stradbally event performs. The Electric Picnic announce their line-up on Thursday and it will be interesting to see who will be joining The Cure at the top of the bill. Our new Festival Republic sources in London are speculating about The xx, Elbow and Ed Sheeran so let’s see if they’re on the ball come Thursday or if they’re leading us astray.

It will also be a fascinating summer to see how events like Forbidden Fruit, Body & Soul, Castlepalooza, Indiependence, Sea Sessions, CorkXSW and Belsonic perform as well. All are no longer novelties and will be seeking to prove their credentials this year. We’re still hearing about a couple of new festivals and bills in the mix – there’s talk of a dance bill of some sort for one of the days at the Phoenix Park, for instance, and also another new dance festival a la Homelands to take up the slack from Oxegen – and we’re also waiting to hear about some festivals’ plans for 2012. For instance, we understand that there’s a question mark over Arthur’s Day this year. Plus, we’re eager to hear about the music bills to go with those well-established arts fests in Galway, Donegal and Cork. And, while it’s not an outdoor festival, the arrival of the Camden Dublin Crawl will be one to analyse too.

But let’s remember where we came in a couple of hundred words ago: there are still outdoor shows which are selling. People are still buying tickets on the day they go on sale, but they’re being choosy feckers about it. If the bill features Gary Lightbody and Florence Welch, it’s a winner, but you can’t have them playing in your field every night of the summer. The trick for the promoter this year more than ever before is knowing when to say yes to that pushy agent on the phone and when to let him down gently. After all, this might be a great year to let another promoter take the fall on that act you’re unsure about. That is, if there are any other takers.

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