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BST’s Jim King talks Adele, live biz resurgence

The AEG European festivals chief hails the singer as "the biggest act on the planet" ahead of her two-night stand at Hyde Park this weekend

By James Hanley on 30 Jun 2022

Jim King

AEG’s Jim King has hailed Adele as “the biggest act on the planet” ahead of the singer’s exclusive two-night stand at BST Hyde Park this weekend.

Demand for the 65,000-cap London shows was enormous, with tickets selling out within minutes of going on sale last October.

The 1-2 July double-header will be the star’s first concerts proper since 2017, when her scheduled four-night run at Wembley Stadium was cut short due to damaged vocal cords. Her planned Weekends With Adele Las Vegas residency was postponed in January – just 24 hours before its opening night – with rescheduled dates still to be announced.

“She’s the biggest act on the planet. And for us to be able to have two concerts with her here is such a highlight for everybody involved,” King, AEG’s CEO of European festivals, tells IQ. “We couldn’t be more thankful that she decided to come and play here. We know they’re so excited about it.

“Fans are going to see the biggest act in the world perform two of the best concerts anyone’s going to see this year”

Adele, whose 2016 Adele Live tour grossed $167.7 million across 107 shows, is represented by WME agents Lucy Dickins internationally and Kirk Sommer in North America.

“The conversations that we’ve been having with her team all the way through this have been unbelievably positive,” adds King. “They are a great team to work with – we know them very well from days gone by. Fans are going to see the biggest act in the world perform two of the best concerts that anyone’s going to see this year. It’s very exciting.”

This year’s BST hosted headliners Elton John, the Rolling Stones and Eagles last weekend, with Adele and a second date with the Stones (3 June) following over the next three days. Concerts by Pearl Jam (8–9 July) and Duran Duran (10 July) bring the 2022 American Express-sponsored series to a close.

But despite expanding the BST programme from six concerts to nine, AEG pressed pause on pre-pandemic plans for new events in favour of rejuvenating existing festivals. King – who previously warned the live industry against oversupplying the market – feels the promoter’s “cautious” approach since returning from Covid-19 has been vindicated.

“The concerns that we had at the top end of the year still apply now”

“I think we’re going to continue to have an amazing year, but based on the fact that we were relatively cautious,” he says. “It sounds a bit crazy to say that with nine sold-out Hyde Park concerts, but it’s nine – we’re not chasing 99. So we have chosen to be fairly modest in our output.

“The concerns that we had at the top end of the year – that rescheduled shows from 2020 and 2021 were being rescheduled into ’22, on top of those shows that were coming into the marketplace in 2022 – still apply now.

“What we saw, and what we still see, is the indoor touring cycle extending quite deeply into the summer because of venue availability, and thus you have festivals competing with headline tours. There’s only so much money that people have to buy tickets, so I think that concern is very real and our response to it – which was being cautious in the number of shows that we did – was the right thing to do.”

“The backbone of the industry is the supply chain and the staff. They’re the people who make this happen”

King also reflects on how the touring business has changed compared to pre-March 2020 times.

“From an operational perspective, it’s largely the same, albeit there are well documented challenges in the supply chain – labour resourcing, etc, has been particularly difficult,” he says. “We have an industry now which has picked itself back up again, but there are a lot of faces who are no longer with us. A lot of experience left the industry and that is one of the greatest challenges we have needed to bounce back from.

“How do we quickly and aggressively drive that experience back into what we have? Because the backbone of the industry is the supply chain and the staff. They’re the people who make this happen. And the ability to make decisions and, more importantly, make the right ones is what makes the UK industry the leading one in the world, in my opinion.”

He adds: “We’re also dealing with the impact of a wider economy issue of the cost of living crisis, which is ongoing and will be with us for some time, no doubt. But we’ve been here before, we’ve been in challenging economy situations where money’s tight and we have to react accordingly. We have to drive value and quality into the market so that when fans buy tickets, they feel that their experience was unbelievable value and they want to remain with us.”

Read part one of our interview with King here.


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