Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Here comes summer 2016

Aside from the football in France, what are the other issues ahead for outdoor shows next summer?

It's time for OTR to dust off the photos tagged "summer", "music" and "balloons"

Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 09:51


Even before Jon Walters put the ball in the Bosnian net last night (and then did it again in the second half for good measure), summer 2016 was already up and running. It will not have escaped your notice that a number of key, out-door event gigs have already been announced for next year with The Stone Roses coming to Dublin’s Marlay Park on July 9 next, John Grant playing Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens on the same date and the mighty Wilco playing the latter venue on July 10.

Early bird tickets have also gone on sale for Body & Soul and the Electric Picnic, with Live Nation UK/MCD/Festival Republic’s Denis Desmond telling Gordon Deegan that half of the tickets for the latter event have already been sold. No doubt we will hear plenty of other announcements about big outdoor shows between now and Christmas as promoters do their level best to get people to put tickets under the trees.

Of course, the football will have an effect on all of this activity. No promoter will want to have a big show taking place on the same day as the Republic of Ireland are playing a match in France and those exact dates won’t become clear until the draw takes place at the Palais des Congrès de la Porte Maillot in Paris on December 12. Until then, any promoter holding dates for shows from June 10 to 24, when the first round of matches will be played, will have to just sit and wait – unless, of course, they’ve booked an act who won’t be relying on a football-friendly audience.

Euro 2016 isn’t the only issue which promoters will have to deal with ahead of next summer. For instance, we’re curious to know if any of them have held a mandatory “pre-application consultation meeting with the relevant local authority” ahead of announcing shows or putting tickets on sale and what happened at this meeting. Remember that the government told us a few short months ago that a mandatory “pre-application consultation meeting with the relevant local authority” was going to be one way to ensure that there will be no more Garthgates to entertain us over future silly seasons.

These consultation meetings were part of a parcel of new event licensing regulations introduced by Paudie Coffey, the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, last June. As reported then, the biggest change was that the organisers of events likely to attract an audience of 5,000 punters or more would have to engage in a mandatory “pre-application consultation meeting with the relevant local authority” before submitting an event licence application or putting tickets on sale.

The regulations came into effect on October 1 so, in effect, meetings should have already taken place regarding Body & Soul and the Marlay Park gigs (the Iveagh Gardens is a sub-5000 capacity venue and the Electric Picnic tickets went on sale in September straight after the last event so would be exempt from these meetings). However, as we noted in the earlier report, there was very little detail around the proposed content of and reporting on these meetings which means there are a lot of questions to be answered.

Such as? Well, here are a few. Are these meetings going to be public and advertised in advance so local residents and interested parties (and nosey journalists) can attend? What exactly will be discussed at these meetings or will they simply be box-ticking exercises? Will there be a standard agenda for these meetings or will it vary from authority to authority? And if these meetings are held in camera, will the local authority tell us what happened at these meetings? Some transparency about all of this would be welcome, especially for residents around the regular round of big venues like Marlay Park (the venue which will host concerts for at least another five years, following the signing of a contract between Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and promoters MCD despite a 2,500-strong petition objecting to the concerts from local residents and park users), Croke Park, Slane and the Aviva Stadium.

Another issue which will be on all promoters’ minds after last Friday’s horrific events in Paris will be security. While Ireland is not regarded as a likely target for Islamic State terrorists at the moment, the standard security procedures at big outdoor events will no doubt be stepped up to try to prevent any such events occuring. As we saw from the murderous attack on the Bataclan club and the attempt by suicide bombers to get inside Stade de France, venues hosting big crowds will always be a magnet for publicity-seeking murderers.

No doubt, additional steps to safeguard audiences and venues have already been taken. Promoters Live Nation issued a statement saying that they “have implemented heightened security procedures globally”, while other venue managers worldwide have also made similar moves. As we’ve seen from some chequered events here over the last few years, security is one of those key issues which can never be down-played or taken for granted.

One more thing? Keep an eye on reports about the growing secondary ticketing market and especially the industry’s response to these findings. UK consumer champion Which? magazine carried out an investigation into the activities of four of the biggest secondary ticketing websites – the Ticketmaster-owned Get Me In! and Seatwave as well as StubHub! and Viagogo – and found evidence that music fans were missing out due to “anti-consumer tactics used by touts”.

These included tickets appearing on re-sale sites before they were officially released, tickets appearing simultaneously on primary and re-sale sites, suspicious ticket release patterns and re-sale restrictions being ignored. Expect more on secondary ticketing in the coming months as the UK Department of Culture Media and Sport are also carrying out an investigation and they may well get a better answer out of Ticketmaster about Get Me In and Seatwave than the one Which? received. Maybe some Irish politicians might want to take a look under the ticketing bonnet when they get a chance?