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Wembley Stadium prepped for historic summer season

Programming manager Matt Owen previews the London venue's 2024 live music calendar, which includes a record eight dates with Taylor Swift

By James Hanley on 13 Jun 2024

Matt Owen


Wembley Stadium programming manager Matt Owen has spoken to IQ ahead of the launch of one of the venue’s “biggest summer seasons ever” this weekend.

The 90,000-cap national stadium will host more than 1.2 million visitors over the next 10 weeks, beginning this Saturday (16 June) with the Capital’s Summertime Ball. The annual pop curtain-raiser will feature acts such as David Guetta, Sabrina Carpenter, Raye, Becky Hill, Jak Jones, Sugababes, Perrie, Meghan Trainor and Aitch.

Much of the attention, however, will be focused on Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour‘s eight-night run (21-23 June and 15-17 & 19-20 August), which will see her crowned as the biggest-selling female artist to ever perform at the London venue, in addition to setting a new record for the longest residency of a solo artist at Wembley.

“Hosting eight nights of the highest grossing music tour ever is huge,” says Owen. “We are very excited to be part of this piece of live music history. The eight performances are the most at any one venue throughout the entire tour. It is a huge privilege for Wembley Stadium to have that honour.

“The shows will no doubt go down in Wembley history, and we can’t wait to welcome all the fans to share in that moment. It promises to be one of the biggest summer seasons ever and we can’t wait to get started.”

In addition, the stadium’s summer calendar includes concerts by Green Day (29 June), AC/DC (3 & 7 July) and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band (25 & 27 July), as well as the return of All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) All In spectacular on 25 August.

“The demand for major, live shows is huge at present. All our summer shows sold out months ago and that is a great sign for the industry”

“The demand for major, live shows is huge at present,” Owen tells IQ. “All our summer shows sold out months ago and that is a great sign for the industry. People still want to come and see these huge shows. They are more than just a performance; they are experiences that last the whole day and create memories that will last a lifetime.”

Last year saw shows by artists including Harry Styles, Blur and The Weeknd, and Owen says live music is a “big priority” for the multi-purpose venue has hosted several major sporting events already this year, including the Carabao Cup Final, the men’s and women’s FA Cup Finals and the 2024 UEFA Champions League Final.

“Non-sport events make up a huge chunk of our calendar and we are very conscious of the history of live music at Wembley Stadium,” he says. “Today’s Wembley Stadium is all about providing different options for different audiences. Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy that experience under the arch.

“We continually invest heavily in a variety of projects to enable us to deliver more concerts, and to make the fan, promoter and artist experience best-in-class. We have improved our audio systems, along with investments into our lighting and digital infrastructure.

“The goosebump feeling of an artist coming out on stage at Wembley and hearing that roar of the crowd is electric. Wembley is, and always has been, one of the most iconic multi-purpose venues in the world.”

Owen suggests the trend for booking stadium shows further in advance has largely continued, post-pandemic.

“Stadium shows at this level and scale are always going to need a long lead-time”

“We’re certainly seeing shows locked in 12-18 months beforehand, but at the same time we’re also seeing things come in on a shorter time frame,” he notes. “Stadium shows at this level and scale are always going to need a long lead-time. The sheer size of some of the tours we’re seeing now need to be planned much further in advance.”

And despite huge competition in the London stadium sector from rivals such as Emirates Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London Stadium and Twickenham, as well as outdoor sites such as Hyde Park, Owen is confident Wembley holds a few aces up its sleeve.

“I think Wembley retains an edge for two reasons,” he says. “One, the delivery team is one of the best in the business. All our promoter partners know that they’re putting concerts into a best-in-class venue, with a best-in-class delivery team who are so passionate about live music, where fans and artists alike are going to have an incredible time.

“Two, our mantra is ‘It Matters More at Wembley’. Artists and fans want to experience shows at one of the most historic and iconic multi-purpose venues in the world. When you come to Wembley, you’re aware of the history surrounding that stage, who has played here, how many millions of fans have gathered here to see their favourite artist hit that peak. It’s an intoxicating feeling, you’re part of history.”

He finishes: “Those two factors certainly help, but it it’s important we never sit still or rest on our laurels. As a team we are always striving to be best-in-class and continually review, analyse and improve our offering. We’re all aware of the expectations that are attached to Wembley, be it as an artist or a fan, and we take pride in continually innovating to make sure Wembley retains its edge.

“Last year we spent more than £5 million improving the stadium from a fan perspective, and we will continue to invest in new ideas to maintain industry leading facilities that attract world-class events.”

Wembley Stadium elevated Paul Smyth, previously head of event operations, to the role of general manager in late 2023. His promotion coincided with the departure of stadium director Liam Boylan, who has since been appointed CEO of Academy Music Group.

 


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