Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

How are this year’s outdoor shows and festivals doing?

A look at the summer shows which are doing well – and the shows which will require a lot of radio ads to shift tickets

Eminem: one of the hits of the summer

Tue, May 14, 2013, 09:30


There are a number of ways to answer this question and most of them rely on the Ticketmaster count. Promoters scrutinise these daily records like a hard-bitten punter pours over the form guide in a bookies. It’s the real tale of the tape, a guide to how much hard work a promoter has to put in to get a show over the line or, in some cases, the shows the promoter doesn’t have to worry unduly about as they’re doing the business.

Another way to gauge how a show is doing is “the curse of Neil Diamond” and the amount of ads you see and hear for a show. Two years ago, the volume of radio ads for Diamond’s show at the Aviva Stadium was such that even the dogs in the street knew that the gig was a bust. A promoter only takes out ads when he has to and the fact that a show like this was stiffing meant the ads went into overdrive to try to take the dirty look off the place.

In 2013, it’s also about how strongly a show opens. You’ll have noticed that promoters put all their eggs in the early doors basket with the maximum publicity and ads ramped up to take advantage of the buzz when a show goes on sale. If a show opens strongly, the promoter can sit back and be patient because he knows it will get there. If a show opens poorly, however, the promoter has a lot of work to do and radio stations can prepare for an ad-valanche.

We’ve been talking to various OTR sources in the live music business in Ireland and the UK over the last couple of days and this is a fairly rough, though relatively well-informed, guide to which shows are doing very well – and which ones are going to need a lot of lot of elbow grease to make the grade. Yes, there are other shows on sale too, but these are the ones which came up again and again in conversation.

If Bruce Springsteen and his 140,000 ticket sales right out of the box is the big acknowledged winner when it comes to Irish shows in 2013, he’s closely followed by Eminemum. Ol’ Slim Shady has shifted well over 70,000 tickets for his Slane show in August and it’s heading for a sell-out. Similarly, if you’re a Mumford & Sons’ fan (and we’re sorry for your troubles), get your tickets for their Phoenix Park love-in sharpish because that’s heading for the sell-out saloon with only a couple of thousand tickets left on sale. There won’t be any need for radio ads for either act. Likewise, both Rihanna and Robbie Williams are selling very strongly at the Aviva and both are well over the 40k mark. Blur at IMMA and Rod Stewart at the RDS are also grand and won’t be in trouble.

On the other hand, it’s not all roses for other shows at the Phoenix Park or Slane. Our sources indicate that The Killers and Justin Timberlake have not opened well, with the former in particular just not selling despite a pretty credible support bill. The band would be hard-pressed to do an O2 in terms of the business to date after two months on sale. Timberlake will probably require a big-hitter on the undercard to help him add thousands of ticket sales, despite how brilliant the new album is. As predicted by OTR months ago, Bon Jovi in Slane has turned out to be a big ask and, with a month to go, there are tens of thousands of tickets on sale. And it’s not all high-fives at the Aviva either, with Roger Waters still stuck in first gear. Radio and print ads for The Killers, JT, Bon Jovi (more bus ads for the Jovi, even) and Waters all round, then.

When it comes to the festivals, it’s a mixed bag. Sources indicate that the Electric Picnic has opened well compared to previous years – as we know, most of the Picnic’s sales come in the final weeks – while both Forbidden Fruit and Longitude have a lot of ground to make up. Take-up on Longitude’s weekend tickets has not been great, while Kraftwerk are proving to be the biggest draw on the bill in term of day ticket sales. Meanwhile, Oxegen has not not opened as strongly as hoped and it seems there is some resistance to the change in mood-music from punters (or perhaps punters’ parents who’re paying for the tickets). Time to buy some ads.

<Banter 50: Anyone buying or selling a ticket?, our look at this summer’s live music shows and festivals, takes place next Monday at the Twisted Pepper, Dublin. The free list for the event is now closed, but there are a limited number of tickets on sale here>