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Bruce Springsteen to reach Irish ticket milestone

Bruce Springsteen will have played to one million fans in Ireland over the course of his career by the end of his latest tour, according to promoter Peter Aiken.

The Boss brings his world tour to Belfast’s Boucher Road in Northern Ireland on 9 May, followed by shows in Ireland at Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park (12 May), Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork (16 May) and Dublin’s Croke Park (19 May).

“One million people in Ireland will have been to see him. It’s phenomenal,” the Aiken Promotions chief tells PA, as per Yahoo! News.

Aiken says that very few artists have sold one million tickets in Ireland, north and south of the border, and suggests that younger generations discovering Springsteen’s music are helping fuel demand for the 74-year-old’s live shows in the region.

“There’s people my age at the concerts but there’s a lot of young people who go too, it’s great”

“His youngest fanbase in the world is in Ireland. If you went to other countries it would all be people like me,” he says. “I think young people listen to him with their parents. They are in the car and then eventually they do like it. I said that to my kids when they were listening to Bob Dylan, that one day you will like it, and they do now. There’s people my age at the concerts but there’s a lot of young people who go too, it’s great. It’s just the way we are here. It will be amazing.”

The Irish Times reports that Springsteen has played 28 concerts in Ireland to date, adding that it was Aiken’s father, Jim, who invited him to perform his first Irish concert at Slane Castle in 1985.

Springsteen’s 20-plus date European stadium run with The E Street Band kicks off in the UK at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on 5 May, finishing back at London’s Wembley Stadium on 25 & 27 July. It will also take in France, Czechia, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

The global outing ranked in third place on Pollstar’s list of 2023’s highest-grossing worldwide tours, generating $379.5 million from 3.5 million ticket sales for 66 concerts. More than 1.6m tickets were sold for last year’s European leg, which included three nights in Ireland at Dublin’s RDS Arena.

 


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All Together Now returns for fifth chapter

Fresh from being named IMRO Live Music Festival Of The Year, Ireland’s All Together Now (ATN) festival has unveiled the lineup for its fifth edition.

Promoted by POD in association with Aiken Promotions, the event returns to Curraghmore Estate, Co. Waterford from 1-4 August.

Acts will include The National, Jorja Smith, Future Islands, Barry Can’t Swim, Maribou State, Yaya Bey, James Vincent McMorrow and Natasha Bedingfield.

ATN prevailed at last week’s IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation) Live Music Venue Awards 2024, held at The Sugar Club in Dublin.

This year’s festival will feature 18 stages of music, theatre, spoken word, storytelling, comedy, wellness and food

This year’s festival will feature 18 stages of music, theatre, spoken word, storytelling, comedy, wellness and food along with other attractions.

Additional acts on the bill will include Muireann Bradley, The Mary Wallopers, Kiasmos, Glass Beams and The Wailers, who are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Legend, the acclaimed album by Bob Marley and The Wailers.

With tier one and two tickets already sold out, remaining camping passes go on sale today (11 March), priced €235-249. People also have the option of spreading the cost for general or family festival camping tickets across five payments of €49.80 via the limited five-series installment plan.

Past events have featured the likes of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Iggy Pop, Lorde, Jamie xx, Loyle Carner, Patti Smith, Underworld, Jungle, Self Esteem, Hot Chip, Jessie Ware, Sugababes, Jon Hopkins, Fontaines DC, Father John Misty, John Grant and The Good, The Bad & The Queen.


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Aiken Presents, Pod launch new Dublin festival

Dublin will be the recipient of a new one-day festival called In The Meadows, organised by Aiken Promotions and Pod Concerts.

Mercury Award-nominated Irish folk music group Lankum are due to headline the inaugural event, set for 8 June 2024 at The Royal Hospital in Kilmainham.

Mogwai, John Francis Flynn, Black Country, New Road and This is the Kit will also perform across two stages at the 17th-century hospital.

The venue, which now houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art, has played host to artists including Leonard Cohen, Bon Iver, Blur, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Patti Smith, and The War On Drugs.

John Francis Flynn and This is the Kit will also perform across two stages at the 17th-century hospital

This year, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and the Grammy-Award nominated indie supergroup boygenius delivered concerts on the grounds. It has also been home to Forbidden Fruit, a festival organised by Aiken and Pod, for the last 12 years.

The promoters also collaborate on All Together Now, a 27,000-capacity festival that has taken place for five years at Curraghmore House, Waterford.

In The Meadows’ name appears to be a nod to Pod’s socially distanced festival, The Meadows, which took place at The Royal Hospital during the pandemic.

Tickets for In The Meadows start at €59.35 including the booking fee.

 


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Garth Brooks concerts ‘biggest thing in Ireland’

Garth Brooks’ long-awaited five-night stand at Dublin’s Croke Park ranks as Ireland’s biggest ever music event, according to Aiken Promotions.

The country music icon performed his first three 80,000-cap concerts at the stadium over the weekend, with the remaining two nights to be held from 16-17 September.

The Croke Park shows come eight years after Brooks’ original five-concert run was controversially scrapped due to planning issues. Despite 400,000 tickets being sold in advance, Dublin City Council only granted permission for three of the nights to go ahead as three gigs had already been held at the venue that year. Brooks insisted on playing “five shows or none at all”.

“It’s been a roller-coaster of eight years,” promoter Peter Aiken tells Sunday Life. “I never thought that when it was called to a halt the last time we would ever get back to this. But we did. And here we are, we got it over the line, with a lot of work, and we got there, finally.

“It felt like this day was never going to come but it is here now, and it is unbelievable.

“This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done, and it is unlikely we’ll ever do anything as big as this again. This is the biggest thing that has ever happened in Ireland. It would be hard to top this.”

“This is probably the biggest cultural event in Ireland in the history of music”

The concerts are the sole European shows on Brooks’ 42-date stadium run and will serve as the tour’s finale.

Aiken Promotions event controller Jim Clarke tells the Press Association via RTE that at least 5% of ticket-holders were travelling from outside Ireland to attend the shows.

“Croke Park normally for a concert would attract 40 to 50% of its patrons from the greater Dublin area. In this case it’s around 15%,” he says. “Thirty countries around the world are represented: 5% of people coming to these concerts are coming into Ireland. So that’s a bonus not just for Garth Brooks and Dublin, but for Ireland as a whole.

“Garth Brooks has become something of an icon in his own right in Ireland.

“400,000 people over five days and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I think he could have sold so many more tickets, such is his popularity across the country. This is probably the biggest cultural event in Ireland in the history of music.”

 


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Garth Brooks sells out five nights at Croke Park

US country music superstar Garth Brooks has sold-out five nights at Dublin’s 80,000-capacity Croke Park for 2022.

Staged by Aiken Promotions, the 9-11 and 16-17 September dates in Ireland will come eight years after Brooks’ original 2014 five-night stand at the stadium was controversially scrapped due to planning issues.

Dublin City Council only granted permission for three of the gigs to go ahead given that three concerts had already been held at Croke Park that year, but Brooks insisted on playing “five shows or none at all”.

Two shows were initially announced for next year, with a third show and then two more added due to demand, with around 400,000 tickets snapped up for the events.

The concerts will serve as the finale of Brooks’ stadium tour, which resumes in Arkansas, US, in April next year.

I never dreamed we’d get the chance to try this again

“What was supposed to start it all, now is where it all ends,” says the singer in a statement. “I never dreamed we’d get the chance to try this again. I’m so grateful to all who made this happen.”

However, a residents’ group, representing people who live nearby to Croke Park, tells the BBC that Dublin City Council’s decision to grant permission for the extra gigs is “unacceptable”, claiming it breaches a three-concert limit previously imposed on the venue.

“We voiced our objection long ago and have continued over many years,” says Colm Stephens from Clonliffe and Croke Park Area Residents Association.

“We’ve objected to the breaking of the cap of three concerts that was imposed when planning permission for the stadium was awarded back in the 1990s by the planning board.”

Ed Sheeran is also due to play two nights at the venue from 23-24 April next year.

 


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Irish concert businesses receive €25m summer funding

The government of the Republic of Ireland has announced recipients of its €25 million in to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters to plan live performances across the country over the summer months, with a total of 237 organisations benefitting from the scheme.

The live performance support scheme (LPSS) is part of a €50m suite of measures to support the live entertainment sector, and follows exceptional demand for a €5m pilot scheme in in 2020. The scheme aims to support live performances, particularly where capacity for live attendance is restricted due to Covid-19 and where funding will make live performances viable or alternatively make them available online if audiences cannot attend due to restrictions.

Among the companies to benefit from LPSS funding include Festival Republic, which has been awarded €423,000 for live shows in Stradbally Hall (home to its festival Electric Picnic) and the Olympia Theatre in Dublin; Aiken Promotions, which received €500,000 for its live performances at Dublin’s Vicar Street; and Pod, which has also been awarded €500,000 for Meadows Festival, a socially distanced festival of music, comedy and spoken word.

“The scheme aims to support live performances, particularly where capacity for live attendance is restricted due to Covid-19 restrictions”

Over 400 companies and businesses applied for the scheme. A Word document of all successful applications is available here.

Irish culture minister Catherine Martin says: “I am very pleased to announce this funding, which will encompass and support a wide range of performances over the coming summer months. I know this funding will assist in the employment of performers, artists, technicians, creative and performance support staff across the sector, bringing much-needed employment to many who have not had work for many, many months.

“I look forward to the high quality artistic output, as demonstrated in the pilot, which has been so important and enjoyed by so many.”

“I have recently provided a further €5m under the local live performance programming scheme for local authorities to engage local performers and crew to stage live performances in their areas,” she adds, “creating further employment opportunities over the coming months.”

 


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Aiken unveils new Vision for Dublin’s Vicar St

Ireland’s Aiken Promotions has unveiled Vision, a six-part online video series filmed at its 1,500-capacity Vicar Street venue in Dublin.

Partially funded with a grant from the government of the Republic of Ireland, Vision – hosted by comedian and TV presenter Tommy Tiernan – aims to celebrate Vicar St, says Aiken Promotions founder Peter Aiken. The venue, like nearly all others in Europe, has been largely closed since the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“Opening the doors at Vicar St for those two weeks of filming and working together was great, even with only the performers, crew and venue staff present,” explains Aiken. “Ultimately, though, it was a bittersweet experience as it reminded us how much we all miss working at live shows – it’s impossible to recreate the buzz of an audience actually being the venue to witness another memorable performance.

“Aiken Promotions looks forward to a time when we can welcome everyone back to Vicar St”

“It was palpable how difficult things remain for everyone in the sector, so to have to turn the lights off again and walk away was heart-breaking.

“Obviously, there is no way to replicate the true essence of being at a live gig but with this special series, we hope we have created something that reminds us all of the magic we are missing.”

So far, two episodes of Vision have been released, the first featuring Christy Moore, Lankum and Lisa O’Neill and the second (embedded above) with Villagers, Cmat and comedian David O’Doherty.

“While the vision of future live entertainment might be still hazy, Aiken Promotions look forward to a time when we can welcome everyone back to Vicar St, along with all the other venues across Ireland,” adds Aiken.

 


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Irish cos receive funding from €5m support scheme

Aiken Promotions, Pod Festivals, MPI Artists and Body & Soul Festival are among the 58 concert businesses to benefit from Ireland’s new Live Performance Support Scheme, which aims to enable promoters, producers and venues plan to live performances in the coming months.

Catherine Martin, the Republic of Ireland’s minister for culture and the arts, announced the beneficiaries of the scheme today (2 November), with an announcement from her office explaining that the €5 million fund will allow “commercial organisers of live performances to commence preparations immediately and productions to go ahead, with either a live audience or to share content through streaming”.

Recipients of the funding range including concert and festival promoters, theatre and pantomime producers, and venues of all sizes, with individual grants ranging from €10,000 to €400,000.

“I am very conscious of the unprecedented nature of the challenge facing the live performance sector, not least from a financial point of view, and accordingly I’m very pleased to announce this funding allocation, which I’m sure will greatly assist in the employment of performers, artists, technicians, creative and performance support staff across the sector,” comments Martin.

“This scheme helps to de-risk the costs of running productions that may be postponed, cancelled or curtailed”

“I was also delighted to recently announce €50 million in support for the sector in [the] budget 2021, which will encompass a range of supports for live entertainment events to take place in venues next year across the country, and other measures to support music, and a new grant scheme for equipment.”

The Live Performance Support Scheme is similar to recent measures announced in Austria, where the government is acting as a guarantor for concerts, though the Irish scheme is paying out grants up front, rather than if/when a show is cancelled.

“This scheme, designed after consultation with the sector, helps to de-risk the costs of running productions that may be postponed, cancelled or curtailed due to restrictions to safeguard public health,” adds Martin. “The live events sector was one of the first to close and I want to ensure that it will be supported and there once again for musicians, artists and performers.”

A full list of recipients of the funding is available from the Republic of Ireland government website.

Irish promoters told IQ last week that while the live music industry is grateful for the €50m support package, it still needs clarification about when events may return in 2021.

 


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DEAG launches in Ireland with Singular Artists

Germany’s Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) has launched in Ireland in partnership with veteran concert promoters Fin O’Leary, Brian Hand and Simon Merriman.

Through its UK subsidiary, Kilimanjaro Live, the Berlin-based company has established Singular Artists, a new company that will organise concerts in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. It also plans to expand its ticketing businesses, MyTicket and Gigantic, to Ireland following Singular Artists’ launch.

DEAG holds a majority (55%) stake in Singular Artists, with the remaining equity split between O’Leary, Hand and Merriman, all of whom most recently worked at Aiken Promotions. All bring from Aiken a diverse roster of touring artists and cultural events, including a growing portfolio of non-music events, including podcasts, YouTubers, comedy and spoken word.

Acts the trio have worked with include My Chemical Romance, Sufjan Stevens, Fontaines DC, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Yungblud, Tones and I, Jose Gonzalez, A-ha, Larking Poe, Clannad, Loyle Carner, Soak, the Dubliners and Girl Band.

“We are pleased that this expansion opportunity has opened up for us in these challenging times for the live entertainment industry,” says Kilimanjaro CEO Stuart Galbraith. “We are all looking forward to presenting concerts and events to our audience again soon.

“We’re very excited for the artists we’re working with, and for the new relationships we will be forging”

“[The Republic of] Ireland is an attractive market within the EU. We are starting off with a strong team and are now building the foundations to conquer the Irish market once the pandemic ends. The DEAG group’s strength also lies in the fact that it recognises such opportunities and has the ability to seize them.”

Kilimanjaro will provide Singular with “infrastructure, accounting and other relevant synergies”, according to the company.

“Singular Artists is incredibly exciting for all of us – Brian, Simon and I have worked side by side for a number of years, so it was natural that we would join forces to create something new, given the circumstances,” says O’Leary. “We always strived for an artist-friendly approach to music promotion, and we’re very excited for the artists we’re working with, and for the new relationships we will be forging. We are looking forward to building on this with Stuart, Steve [Tilley] and the Kilimanjaro team as Singular Artists.”

Adds DEAG’s Detlef Kornett: “DEAG is expanding despite the crisis. We are not only retaining our key personnel in the group, but even expanding it. The Irish market is extremely attractive. We will position ourselves there with top-class content and grow.

“Already, over 8,000 events are held in Ireland every year. Together with our own events, these form an excellent basis for the expansion of our ticketing activities to Ireland.”

 


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Ireland to permit some shows, festivals in August

The Republic of Ireland has released its roadmap for reopening society and business following the Covid-19 shutdown, which sees shows and festivals return from 10 August, provided that capacity restrictions and social distancing measures are complied with.

Under the five-step plan presented by Irish prime minister (taoiseach) Leo Varadkar, “festivals, events and other social and cultural mass gatherings” will make a comeback in the final stage, under certain constrictions.

The reopening of events will be contingent on “both indoor and outdoor number restrictions”, according to the exit plan, although the specifics of such capacity restrictions are not communicated.

It was announced last month, however, that events over 5,000 people would not return until after the end of August, leading to the cancellation of MCD Productions’ Longitude and Sunstroke festivals, as well as Pod/Aiken Promotions All Together festival.

Under the five-step plan “festivals, events and other mass gatherings” will make a comeback in the final stage, under certain constrictions

The plan also mandates that “social distancing” must be adhered to during events. Once again, the details of such measures are not laid out. Currently, social distancing in Ireland implies maintaining a distance of two metres between individuals.

The fifth phase of Ireland’s recovery will also see pubs and nightclubs open their doors, “where social distancing and strict cleaning can be complied with”.

The capacity reductions and social distancing measures referenced in Ireland’s reopening roadmap are akin to those imposed on venues in Spain, which released its exit strategy last week. Spain’s plan indicated that concerts could return as early as May with certain capacity and distancing restrictions, but was criticised by members of the live industry for being “unclear” and unrealistic for many promoters.

Photo: Peyton Edward/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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