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Busiest year ever for SSE Arena, Wembley

The SSE Arena, Wembley, celebrated its busiest year on record in 2018. More than one million fans attended events at the 12,500 cap. arena over the year, the largest number of annual visitors since the venue opened its doors in 2006.

Last year, 157 performances took place in the 12,500-capacity London venue. Events included the world premiere of the Golden Globe-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody, three sold-out nights for Arcade Fire, the first ever all-nighter from drum’n’bass legend Andy C, an exclusive Smashing Pumpkins show, George Ezra’s biggest headline concert to date and a sold-out show for Slayer as part of their historic final world tour.

“Our reputation as one of the UK’s most iconic concert and events venues rang true in 2018,” says John Drury, vice-president and general manager of the SSE Arena, Wembley. “With a stunning array of events across music, comedy, sport and entertainment, we helped to create memories that will last a lifetime.”

“Our reputation as one of the UK’s most iconic concert and events venues rang true in 2018”

Venue developments in 2018 included the unveiling of a brand-new 200-cap. restaurant, the Empire Bar & Grill, as well as an accompanying 50-cap. VIP Empire Lounge. 12,000 visitors downloaded the venue’s new app, which allowed them to skip out food and drink queues, with many outlets in the arena offering dedicated collection lanes for those ordering through the app.

SSE, the venue’s naming partner, invested in free in-auditorium wifi, mobile phone charging points and social activations. Members of the SSE Reward programme received exclusive offers to ticket presales, and enjoyed a dedicated VIP entrance and customer lounge.

“Our building is 85 years old this year, but constant reinvention and innovation ensure we are ready to hit more heights through 2019 and beyond,” says Drury, optimistic for an even busier 2019.

 


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Awards all round for Arcade Fire SSE Arena shows

Arcade Fire have been presented with award frames by the SSE Arena, Wembley, after last week’s sold-out three-date run at the London venue.

The Canadian act played three nights in the round at the 12,500-cap. arena on 11, 12 and 13 April, for which they were gifted plaques by SSE Arena Wembley vice-president/GM John Drury and bookings manager James Harrison.

Over the course of the three-night run, part of their Infinite Content tour, the band were also joined by special guests on stage for surprise performances: Chrissie Hynde on the first night, Jarvis Cocker on night two and Florence Welch and Boy George on night three. Boy George’s band, Culture Club, will play a headline show at the AEG-operated arena on 14 November.

Also receiving awards were the band’s managers, Izvor Zivkovic and Dounia Mikou, agent Emma Banks (CAA) and promoter Toby Leighton-Pope (AEG Presents).

 


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Arcade Fire ‘360 deal’ turns sour

With 360 deals – wherein an artist signs to a single entity for album releases, tours, sponsorship and everything in between – now common across the industry, it was inevitable that, sooner or later, one would go spectacularly wrong: and that’s exactly what’s happened with Arcade Fire.

According to an announcement from Everything Now Corp, with which Arcade Fire has their 360 deal, the band are “content to be the ninth-biggest [band] in the world”, whereas Everything Now wants to work with “those who strive to be number one”.

The company has, therefore, “decided to temporarily exercise the right in our contract to take over Arcade Fire’s social media channels in order to bring you some excellent promotional material that the band was unwilling to share.”

Everything Now Corp entered into what’s called a “360 degree arrangement” with Arcade Fire late last year. It was…

Posted by Arcade Fire on Thursday, 22 June 2017

 

Except, of course, it hasn’t: because Everything Now is Arcade Fire’s latest album and tour, and the ‘take-over’ is a masterful piece of guerrilla marketing on the band’s part.

Enjoy the “much better version of the ‘Creature Comfort’ video” above, complete with bonus pop-up bubbles revealing that the band “stand in a circle and each say one thing they like about capitalism” before every show and that frontman Win Butler was born on the same day the Titanic sank, Abraham Lincoln was shot and the McRib was introduced.

Everything Now is out now on CD, cassette, vinyl and fidget spinner.

 


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Giddings: Rod’s got a train set—I’ve got a festival

John Giddings has said he has no plans to step down from Isle of Wight Festival, as he celebrates a “bumper year” for the long-running UK event.

Giddings – speaking to IQ in a brief moment of downtime amid a five-night run for Phil Collins at Lanxess Arena (18,000-cap.) in Cologne – says his day job with Solo Agency, whose other upcoming shows include Iggy Pop, Little Mix and U2, means the festival remains a “hobby” rather than a moneyspinner: “Every penny I’ve made from the festival I’ve invested back into it,” he explains. “Rod Stewart’s got a train set – I’ve got a festival!

“How many other people can say they can pay artists far too much money to come and play on the Isle of Wight and invite all their mates…?”

If social media is anything to go by, Giddings’s friends weren’t the only people who had a good time at the 16th festival, held over four days last week (8–11 June).

Although he “never gives out” attendance figures, Giddings (pictured) says the 2017 event had a “very good atmosphere” and points IQ towards social media – on which he keeps a keen eye throughout the weekend – for a sample of attendee feedback. (A quick look on the festival’s Facebook page sees visitors saying they had an “awesome weekend” at a “fantastic” event – and lots of praise for the surprisingly clean loos.)

“It’s good to have a visible promoter – it gives the festival an identity”

“You need to read social media,” continues Giddings. “It’s the first thing people will turn to if they have any complaints – so if they’re congratulating you, you know you’ve done well.”

Giddings’s personal highlights of the festival include Friday-night co-headliners Run-DMC and David Guetta (“five out of five”), Arcade Fire, who made their Isle of Wight debut on Saturday after “a number of years’” worth of approaches, and Rod Stewart, who closed the festival on Sunday night.

He also praises the new talent on display, including The Amazons, The Sherlocks, Bang Bang Romeo and Judas, all of whom got “great reactions” from the crowd.

As with Download, held concurrently in Leicestershire, there was a beefed up police presence at the festival, with armed officers from Hampshire Constabulary deployed throughout the festival site. Giddings says the police “behaved so well”, both in making attendees feel safe and getting into the festival spirit (a selection #policeselfies were posted on the @FestivalCop twitter account).

Isle of Wight Festival 2017’s policing commander, Hampshire’s Supt Simon Dodds, says the support his officers received from festivalgoers was “overwhelming”. “The fact that the policing family and the public were able to communicate so well has made the experience all the more safe, reassuring and enjoyable for all,” he explains.

Giddings resurrected the long-dormant Isle of Wight Festival brand in 2002 after a 32-year hiatus – “I’m lucky because I’ve got an iconic name from the 1970s, so it’s on everyone’s bucket list,” he jokes – and agreed to sell a majority stake in the festival to Live Nation earlier this year.

“You need to read social media … If people are congratulating you, you know you’ve done well”

While that deal is now under investigation by the Consumer and Markets Authority, Giddings has no regrets about joining forces once more with the world’s biggest promoter, using the metaphor of a train leaving the station: “it was either get on board [with Live Nation] or be left on the platform.”

Along with Download’s Andy Copping, Bestival’s Rob da Bank and the Eavises at Glastonbury, Giddings is one of the few UK festival promoters well known to (and easily contactable by) the general public – a status he embraces. “It’s good to have a visible promoter,” he explains. “It gives the festival an identity.”

Returning the theme of social media, Giddings explains that he welcomes criticism from festivalgoers, saying feedback from attendees is key to continually improving the event. “I don’t think I’m perfect,” he says. “I appreciate constructive criticism, because I want to make it better for everyone.”

With many festival bosses already having a rough idea of what they want their 2018 line-ups to look like, Giddings says he hasn’t had time to even “start thinking about next year yet”. Does this mean he’s looking to step down any time soon, IQ wonders?

Not so, explains Giddings, who says he has “no idea” when he might hand over the reins. “Nobody would do this job for the money,” he concludes. “We do it because we enjoy it. So I’ll stop doing it when it stops becoming enjoyable…”

 


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