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Coldplay tour tops 6m sales, more US dates added

Ticket sales for Coldplay’s Music Of The Spheres World Tour have now surpassed six million, as the band reveal details of a further slate of stadium shows across the US and Canada for 2023.

The group will perform at Seattle’s Lumen Field (20 September), Vancouver’s BC Place (22 September), Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego (27 September) and the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles (30 September).

Support on all dates will come from H.E.R. and 070 Shake. Tickets go on sale this Friday (27 January).

Coldplay were originally due to play SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles last year before the shows were cancelled due to production issues. An exclusive first come, first served presale will be offered to past purchasers of their previously scheduled 2022 dates in LA. The presale will take place on Thursday 26 January.

To allow more fans access to the shows, the British band will be continuing their $20 Infinity Ticket Programme for the west coast shows. The programme offers a limited number of $20 tickets, which could be located “anywhere in the venue – on the floor, up in the gods or anywhere in between”. Tickets are restricted to a maximum of two per purchaser and must be bought in pairs.

In North America, Coldplay are represented by Marty Diamond of Wasserman Music. Diamond is confirmed as a panellist for the View From The Top panel at this year’s ILMC.

The Music Of The Spheres run restarts in Brazil in March before returning to Europe in May

The Music Of The Spheres run restarts in Brazil in March before returning to Europe in May for shows in Portugal, Spain, England, Wales, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Earlier on the tour, Coldplay made history in Argentina by completing an unprecedented 10-night sellout run at the 65,000-cap Estadio River Plate in Buenos Aires. The national record previously belonged to Roger Waters, who played nine shows at the venue in March 2012 during his The Wall Live tour.

A special live broadcast of the group’s 28 October Buenos Aires concert was screened in cinemas in more than 80 countries – a record-breaking number of countries for a live cinema event – topping the box office charts in Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Netherlands, and breaking the top 10 worldwide across the weekend covering 28-30 October, according to Comscore.

The tour has also been praised for its groundbreaking sustainability initiatives, which include the world’s first tourable battery system and the first ever stadium show powered by renewable energy.

As part of their commitment to cut tour emissions by 50%, the band have pledged to plant one tree for every ticket sold and have offered fans incentives to travel by low-emission transport.

Subscribers can revisit our in-depth look at the tour, first published in Issue 113 of IQ Magazine, here.

 


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The Gaffer: Nicole Massey

As the production manager for Billie Eilish, Nicole Massey has become one of the most high-profile roadies in the world, thanks in no small part to presenting the young star to an audience of millions at The Grammys this year.

Her résumé includes working with some of the biggest stars to ever grace the stage – Coldplay, Beyoncé, Madonna, Prince, Rod Stewart, and Van Halen, to name but a few. But it was the Divine Miss M who first ignited Nicole’s passion for touring, while her insatiable desire to learn new skills has seen her seamlessly switch roles from performer to production guru. Unlike some of her peers who fell into the production sector, Nicole’s fate seemed sealed from the start. “My parents met while working on a theatrical production, so you could say it’s in my blood,” she reveals. Indeed, the smell of the greasepaint has never been far away. “I was a dancer and performer from a really early age – I was always being excused from school to go to New York for some audition or another,” she recalls.

Raised in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania – in the same county as global production hub, Lititz – Nicole was given free rein to exercise her imagination, as her parents could obviously see where her natural talent might take her. “They encouraged my creativity. I had imaginary friends as a child – Shamen, Camen, and Amy – who we would pick up on the side of the road on car journeys. My sister’s friends would be wondering what on earth we were doing, but it was a regular thing,” she laughs.

Growing up surrounded by adult actors and performers may have helped instil self-confidence in the young Nicole, too, because when she had the chance to compete for a dance scholarship across the country in Dallas, Texas, she persuaded her parents to let her undertake the trip on her own. Needless to say, she won the scholarship.

Getting older
Having made a name for herself in theatrical circles, Nicole found herself living in Los Angeles until her first taste of life on the road on a live music show changed everything – dancing for Bette Midler on her 1999 Divine Miss Millennium tour. “It was my first rock-and-roll-style tour. And, honestly, within days I decided that I never wanted to not do this,” states Nicole.

Nicole next found herself out with Backstreet Boys, which saw her having to use her passport for work for the first time. “I remember being in Buenos Aires and just so excited that I could go see the Eva Peron balcony, because I’m a dorky theatre girl,” she says. “At any opportunity, I’d do all the sightseeing and stuff, so I got the nickname Pollyanna because I was so excited to be everywhere… I’m just a girl from little Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and I’ve been to Uzbekistan; I’ve been to Prince Charles’s birthday party. I never want to take this for granted.”

“It was my first rock-and-roll-style tour. And, honestly, within days I decided that I never wanted to not do this”

Determined to keep touring, Nicole would offer artists her dancing prowess while taking on additional roles behind the scenes. “I was a professional dancer until about the age of 28 or 29,” she notes. “But even when I was on tour, I’d take jobs where I was dancing and doing wardrobe.”

Working for Rod Stewart offered such an opportunity and also allowed her to participate in one of the music industry’s favourite side-lines: nepotism. “Rod loves using people’s skills to the maximum – he has a drum tech who is also the percussionist, for instance. So, when we hired my sister, Danielle, for wardrobe on the tour and Rod discovered she was a Rockette – one of the dancing girls at Radio City [Music Hall] – he asked us to choreograph something for Hot Legs and for Sexy. As a result, we danced all of the 2008 tour. I would go from being a tour manager to dancing in the show and coming back, with full stage makeup on, to deal with promoters and stuff like that. It was funny.”

Taking on wardrobe duties for the likes of The Chicks and such costume-heavy outings as Madonna’s Re-Invention tour in 2004, Nicole’s curiosity for all aspects of production started to develop early on, but it was her long, on-off touring with Rod Stewart she points to as opening new doors.

“The first real production job was before working with Rod, when Bill Leabody asked me to be his production assistant on Enrique Iglesias,” she explains. “However, with Rod Stewart, I started out doing wardrobe, and then when the band’s tour manager was leaving, they were confident I could take on that role as well, so I was doing both for a while. And then that’s when we hired my sister.”

I didn’t change my number
Gaining a solid reputation for her can-do attitude, Nicole was on the end of a call from Craig Finley when he was planning Coldplay’s 2009 European stadium tour – drafting her in as production coordinator. And when Leabody took over for Coldplay’s 2012 world tour, the writing was on the wall. “I ended up telling Rod during a tour of Australia that I was going to work for Coldplay the following year, so I gave him about six-months’ notice.”

Rod Stewart’s influence continues in Nicole’s life, however, as his 2009 tour date in Ireland had life-changing repercussions.

“My dear friend, Tom McCarthy, who is an Irish guy that owns a couple of bars in New York, told me he’d be coming to Rod’s shows when we were in Ireland. And the night before the Dublin show, he asked if he could bring his friend, Dick Massey, who was in the movie The Commitments, to the show. Naturally, I said yes because I love that movie, but I didn’t know which one he was, and I hadn’t seen it since about 1991. In fact, one of my childhood friends reminded me that we had to sneak into the movie theatre because the movie was R-rated – up until Pulp Fiction came out, The Commitments held the record for the most F-bombs.

“But anyway, Dick came to the Rod Stewart show, and three months later I was living in Dublin. And three years later we got married.”

“I would go from being a tour manager to dancing in the show and coming back, with full stage makeup on, to deal with promoters”

Immersing herself back in the production side of touring suited Nicole perfectly. “I just fell in love with being part of the crew,” she tells IQ. “I truly love taking care of the crew and being the mama. When you’re the production coordinator or production manager, half of the job is just dealing with people, personalities, and managing their expectations.”

My strange addiction
Prior to her long stint with Coldplay, which took her from 2012 to 2019, many of Nicole’s jobs involved fulfilling more than one role – a work ethic driven by her determination to learn as many disciplines as possible.

“From the time I was on the road with Backstreet Boys, 24 years ago, I’d travel on the audio bus and ask, ‘How do you guys know whose cables are what?’ And they’d say, ‘Why don’t you come load PA with us to find out!’ And so, I started loading in and out PA on Backstreet with the Clair audio boys. That’s how I learned where everything was going and started to feel more comfortable on the floor, rather than hiding back in those offices.”

She continues, “I found out very early on that it’s good to push your cases to the truck: you have to find the things that actually help the whole tour, rather than just thinking of yourself.”

Eager to learn about different roles, Nicole would consistently volunteer for other production-related tasks. “I helped with confetti on lots of tours,” she reports. “I did confetti on The Chicks, on [Michael] Bublé, and I used to call the confetti cues on Coldplay.”

Her natural curiosity made every day an education process. “I just asked the questions. I realise that there’s no way that anybody can know everything, especially with how technology changes so quickly. But I guess it comes back to me being bold and not afraid to say I have a different idea about how to do something.”

Certainly, her work on arena and stadium tours offered countless moments to build her knowledge base, which for one of those rare people who can boast a photographic memory, has resulted in an encyclopaedic skillset. “Being a part of such big, heavy productions, you almost have to possess the knowledge just to operate,” says Nicole. “As the [production] coordinator, I had no freight knowledge until Bill [Leabody] let me be a part of the email chains, which really allowed me to learn.”

“You have to find the things that actually help the whole tour, rather than just thinking of yourself”

Citing other colleagues who nurtured her, she continues, “On Enrique, I had a tour manager called Jerry Levin, who encouraged me and made me his assistant. Through him I learned a lot about dealing with the artist directly in the sense of their needs, hotels, and flights, and all that stuff. Cary ‘Slim’ Ritcher was a production manager who I worked with on smaller shows, and he explained why we’d run the cables a certain way because we were near the [loading] dock, and you didn’t want to be rolling road cases over the top. There are a ton of dumb little nuances of touring, whether it’s in a theatre or whether it’s in a stadium. But if you treat every day as a learning experience, it all mounts up.”

Everything I wanted
As one of the most popular characters on the global tour circuit, it’s somewhat astonishing that Nicole’s work with Billie Eilish marks her debut as a production manager. Indeed, if she had not been vocal about her ambitions to become the boss, it’s conceivable she might still be waiting in the wings.

The magic moment came in South Africa on Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s 2018 world tour. “Bill Leabody and I were in a runner van, and I just said out loud that I wanted to be a production manager. I put it out into the universe, and less than four months later, Bill recommended me for the Billie job,” says Nicole.

Taking up the story, Leabody tells IQ, “I first met Nicole nearly 20 years ago on a tour with The Chicks when she was in charge of wardrobe. We shared an irreverent sense of humour and hit it off straight away. Nicole was always in a good mood and was wonderful at her job.”

Reunited on the next Chicks’ tour, Nicole became Leabody’s production coordinator. “Other tours followed and, when Coldplay came around, I of course took Nicole with me,” continues Leabody. “We did two stadium tours together, which Nicole handled effortlessly.

“When the OTR2 tour, with Beyoncé and Jay Z came in, Carmen Rodriguez was already in place as coordinator. However, there was an opening for someone to go in advance to deal with steel crews and make sure production needs were all ready for us coming in hot. Nicole took on this challenge and did an amazing job.

“To say that Nicole has excelled is an understatement. She is now universally accepted as one of the best”

“[When] Nicole [subsequently] asked me if I thought she could step up to be a production manager, I had no doubt at all that she could do it, and I told her so.” Within weeks, Leabody was made aware that Billie Eilish needed a new production manager. “Unfortunately, I had other commitments, but when Billie’s manager, Danny Rukasin, asked if I could recommend someone else, I immediately thought of Nicole.” Leabody adds, “To say that Nicole has excelled is an understatement. She is now universally accepted as one of the best, and I am so honoured to welcome her into the community of ‘Gaffers’: the first woman to be invited to join and a fabulous role model.”

Nicole comments, “I’m very proud to be the first female Gaffer, and more so because of the company I’m keeping. I’m just so honoured to join Bill and Jake [Berry] and Chris [Kansy], and all those guys. I’ve known them all for a long time.”

Oxytocin
Turning to her first official PM job, Nicole states, “Having the backing of a Gaffer – Bill – on speed dial has been a blessing. I’m so fortunate that I can call upon all kinds of people who I’ve worked with over the years to ask their advice about something. But sometimes I’ll say, ‘This might seem like a stupid idea…’ And it turns out it’s a winner and the feedback is ‘Why didn’t we think of that?!’ So, I’m definitely putting my own stamp on being a production manager.”

She continues, “I’m sure I annoy some crew members because I’m very positive and try to constantly motivate them. I was so involved in dance teams and sports teams growing up that I thrive on the camaraderie. Nobody on tour does this for the crazy hours and the stressful times. They do it because of the people. I look out into that crowd every night. And I look at those kids. And I’m like, ‘Oh my god…’ That’s why I do it!”

As for Happier Than Ever, The World Tour, Nicole has nothing but praise for artists Billie and Finneas after the lengths they went to in order to make sure the crew were kept as active as possible when Covid shut things down very early in the original tour schedule. “We got three shows in, and then the pandemic happened,” says Nicole. “It was pretty scary, and I felt very responsible, trying to make sure that everyone was okay.”

“I look out into that crowd every night. And I look at those kids. And I’m like, ‘Oh my god…’ That’s why I do it!”

Two of the crew were easy enough to keep an eye on – husband Dick, who is Nicole’s production coordinator, and four-legged, tail-wagging production chief, Reggie, whom Mr & Mrs Massey chaperone around the world. “Dick and I worked together on Coldplay, but we were in different offices: he was doing VIP ticketing when I was production coordinator. So, we’ve been out together before, but when Billie was about to go out in 2020, I asked him if he’d come and join me and Reggie in the office.”

Come out and play
Despite the moratorium on live music, Eilish’s core crew were only side-lined for a matter of weeks before a plan was actioned to keep them busy. “We actually started going to LA in July of 2020 because Billie created a whole bunch of different live projects, such as an Amazon project and a Disney project at the Hollywood Bowl,” reveals Nicole.

“Then, when her documentary came out, we did a little video release party. And for all the stuff like that, she used her touring crew: the backline guys, audio control… A small group of us would fly to LA, where we’d quarantine for the first few days, then we’d all test and stay at a hotel that had an outdoor firepit so that, after work, we could sit outside and have a beer, like you would normally, and hang out, distanced but safe. We even agreed that nobody would eat indoors to minimise the chances of catching Covid: those were the rules if you wanted to keep working.”

While the postponed tour dates remained on hold, the various other projects eventually rolled into Eilish’s festival season. “And then that rolled into the tour for this year,” smiles Nicole. “We loaded in for rehearsals in Los Angeles on January 2, so we were pretty fortunate in terms of work compared to a lot of our touring colleagues.”

Overheated
While Nicole admits she has worked on more fraught tours, the production on Happier Than Ever, The World Tour is a complex affair.

“This show is a beast,” she tells IQ. “Normally, a show comes in, the stage is built at the other end, lighting goes up, stage rolls in. Bam! You have a show. Billie’s production involves lighting coming in, then some of the staging, then lighting deals with some of the moving trusses, then we roll in the diamond part of the stage, then we finish the lighting, then we have the lighting on the sides, then we roll in the thrust. It’s like an onion that you have to just keep peeling, layer on layer.

“This show just shows what is capable with an amazing team. I relied on my stage manager, Jayy Jutting, and then he relied on the crew chiefs, who were so dedicated – if we didn’t have Mattie Rynes, my head rigger, Jack Deitering, my head carp, Wayne Kwiat on lighting, Scott ‘Bull’ Allen from Strictly FX, Matt McQuaid with audio, Dave Keipert and Racheal Hudson from Team Video, Brian Benauer with Tait Automation… every department needed a strong leader or else we were just going to fail.”

“This show is a beast… It’s like an onion that you have to just keep peeling, layer on layer”

That respect is patently mutual, as Nicole has been affectionately nicknamed ‘The Hammer’ by Billie’s crew members, impressed by the way that the PM quietly goes about making sure her plan is adhered to, without having to raise her voice. “I hate shouters; it’s my pet peeve,” she says. “If you keep it internal and then use your loud voice when you need to, people know that you’re serious.”

Indeed, despite the North American dates requiring crew to wear full PPE to mitigate against Covid-19, Nicole’s strategy for that leg set the benchmark for the entire tour, with zero dates being lost to the virus.

Moving to Europe where restrictions were more relaxed should have been a relief. However, while the majority of American venues have loading bays, the opposite is true in Europe, where new driving regulations further complicated being on the road.

“I had a little breakdown in Dublin,” confesses Nicole. “I was very nervous about a few of the overnighters and worried we weren’t going to make it. So, I got all the crew chiefs together and told them that I needed help. It turned out to be a good moment for me as a production manager – just to gather all the people who I know are really good at their jobs, so we could figure it out together.”

One of the major headaches for the daily routine was dealing with the B stage: a crane that takes Eilish far and wide around venues so that she can literally be just a few feet from fans, even when they are seated in arena balconies.

“That arm weighs 8,000 pounds,” states Nicole. “We took it from the US to Europe to Australia, and it’s now enroute back to Los Angeles for Billie’s December shows at The Forum.”

Explaining the intricacies of dealing with such a massive piece of equipment, she says, “To load the turret you actually have to tilt it on its side because the containers are not wide enough. We even took it to festivals a couple times, like at Austin City Limits. It just makes such a cool impact because the people that Billie is looking right at never thought that they could get the chance to be that close to her. But it’s complicated. In Dublin, for instance, we had to change the orientation of the arm so that it was parallel to the audience because of how short it is inside the 3Arena. Each venue had to be approached on a case-by-case basis, and every day was different because of the elevations of where the seats were, etc. Our programmer, Pat King, did a great job.”

“I got all the crew chiefs together and told them that I needed help. It turned out to be a good moment for me”

As for the tour’s trickiest shows, Nicole cites the visit to the Accor Arena as a date that literally led to sleepless nights.

“My scariest day was back-to-back Cologne then Paris,” she reports. “On that overnight, a couple of us jumped ahead on the catering bus and were in the venue in Paris to start just dumping things as they came in.

“The planning worked well, though. We did a pre-rig and motors were in the air when we got there. But it took a lot: I had the video crew chief walking around checking on all the other departments to see where he could help – people just stepped up to go that extra mile for Billie. I mean, at 5:45pm, I was on my hands and knees doing barricade because I was determined we were not going to be late for doors.”

She adds, “We had to come up with an A, B, and C show because of timing. We knew that it would take minimum two hours and 11 minutes to complete the building of our automated video tile ramp once the main stage was in place. But I have the most amazing head [carpenter] Jack Deitering. If it was not for that man, I really don’t know if the show in Paris would have happened.”

Bellyache
With the spectre of Covid requiring the services of EMT (emergency medical technician) Gordon Oldham, trying to keep crew healthy was a fulltime task. “I’m not gonna lie; I don’t think I ever want to do a tour without some kind of medical person on tour, now,” says Nicole. “Gordon did a great job and proved invaluable for all kinds of things outside of the Covid situation.

“The crew was very international,” she says of a crew that sometimes had to be patched together to deal with Covid absentees. “We had Lithuanians, Polish, Ukrainian drivers, so we had a lot of language and communication issues, but Robert Hewett at Stagetruck was beyond helpful throughout the whole thing.

“In Ireland, we had riggers from Budapest, I believe, and there were one or two places in Europe where we struggled, but surprisingly we were never more than 20 short, so we managed to deal with it.”

“I don’t think I ever want to do a tour without some kind of medical person on tour, now”

Such issues were a piece of cake compared to Australia. “In Sydney, we had only 45 people out of 110 on the load-in,” Nicole says. “Luckily, we had a full load-in day and we organised accordingly: we talked to the crew chiefs and said when they officially really needed the hands, then great. But otherwise, these guys would break off and give lighting six hands, and then the special effects hands would go straight to audio, and we just had to juggle around like that. Sydney and Perth were the only ones where it was a little crazy.”

Male fantasy
Having made the grade as one of the world’s top production managers, Nicole is determined to encourage other women in the business that they have the skills to do likewise. Not that everyone universally recognises her as the production chief, yet. “As a woman, people come up and start to talk to the stage manager before me, because they just think I’m a girl standing there,” she tells IQ. “It happens all the time in the office, where Dick has to say, ‘Have you met Nicole, our production manager?’ It’s ridiculous, but I’m lucky that I have really wonderful people around me that support me in that sense.”

She also namechecks some of the many women who have helped her on her journey and inspired her to aim for the top job. “Working with Marguerite Nguyen on Coldplay, I was given so much of an opportunity to do different things that most coordinators would never do on a tour. So, I feel like I was prepared to take the step up to PM, more than most, because that tour is just so massive.”

Advocating that more tours consider elevating women to production chief, Nicole observes, “We’re multitaskers and organisers. There are lots of amazing female leaders out there – we have Emma Reynolds-Taylor running the production for Glastonbury; Duchess [Sue Iredale] has been running productions forever; Bianca Mauro runs a stage at Austin City Limits. So, we have all these women that are running big festivals and stages and events, and while it just hasn’t happened as much on the road, there are still plenty of amazing women out there, day after day, delivering shows to fans. There just needs to be more, in the crew chief roles and upwards, but also just more women in touring, in general.

“What I think needs to happen is that women need to be trusted with management positions in touring and throughout the music business. We need to start pushing more of these strong-willed women, like myself, forward a bit more. There are lots of them out there who have been working their ass[es] off for years and feeling very good about what they do but who do not necessarily know or believe that they can do what I’m doing. But they can, and it’s a situation that we can all work on together to provide more support and encouragement to drive the change.”

“Women need to be trusted with management positions in touring and throughout the music business”

Indeed, citing one example of where her own personal experience as a dancer came to the fore, Nicole remembers a dilemma ahead of Eilish’s February 2022 concert at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena. “Billie’s toaster had a power issue,” states Nicole. “It’s the mechanism that allows her to pop-up onto the stage at the start of the show, and we all worked hard to try to fix it, but I finally knew it was time to go and tell her. But before I did that, I went out with the carpenter; we looked at putting a set of stairs in place and a bunch of different things so that I had three options for her to make her entrance.

“I’m not gonna lie; I really was proud of myself in the sense that it was my dance background that made me figure out the best way for her to enter. That was the first time I had that realisation that I can bring things to the table that a male production manager wouldn’t necessarily come up with.”

Breaking such news to the artist may be daunting, but Nicole’s bond with Billie is strong. “She’s an amazing artist,” states Nicole. “The thing that makes Billie so special is she doesn’t need the bells and whistles. So as the tour progressed and that muscle memory, night after night, developed, it was so good to just see her so happy and having so much fun out there.”

Indeed, that respect goes both ways, when Billie asked Nicole to introduce her Grammy performance when the Academy wanted to feature women in touring.

“The Grammy thing was an amazing moment; I had so much fun,” she smiles. “My friend, Patrick Logue from the Rod Stewart Camp, once told me that chewing gum was easier to get off the stage than me – and it’s kind of true; I’m such a ham! But I didn’t realise the impact it would have. Two weeks after The Grammys, when we were at Coachella, I had people I didn’t know coming up to me and thanking me for being the voice of our industry; speaking out for women. So, a really proud moment turned into this thing where I just had people stopping me left and right. And I was so honoured that it was perceived that way because I truly, truly love this industry.”

And having attained the top job, Nicole concludes that it’s given her a newfound understanding of her peers and former PM bosses. “I have so much more respect for all the production managers that I’ve worked with, because I used to keep my inbox as a to-do list, while I’d look at the likes of Bill’s email and think, ‘Oh my god, how can you let get it that way?’ But now I understand – I have 64,000 messages in my inbox now. It’s never-ending.”

“The thing that makes Billie so special is she doesn’t need the bells and whistles”

My future
As for what’s next, Nicole reveals that industry nepotism has benefitted her once more, while the enforced time off that she and Dick enjoyed at the start of the pandemic has made her a little more relaxed about looking at next year’s employment contracts.

“After Billie’s hometown shows in December, the crew will all go our separate ways, but we’ve also got a little Finneas tour in Australia starting in January, where he’s doing the Laneway Festivals. So, we’ll get back together for that. And then we’ll come back to do some rehearsals before Billie heads to Latin America, then have a break in April.

“After that… I don’t really know, there’s nothing 100% confirmed, so I’m just going to play it by ear. Everybody keeps asking me what I’m going to do when The Happier Than Ever Tour ends, but I don’t stress about stuff like that anymore.”

Unsurprisingly, remaining in the camp for whom she described at The Grammys as “The best 20-year-old boss in the world,” would be top choice for Nicole, who concludes, “When it comes to work, I trust my gut and am hopeful that it means we’ll get to continue working with Billie.”


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Coldplay make touring history in Argentina

Coldplay have made history in Argentina by completing an unprecedented 10-night sellout run at the 65,000-cap Estadio River Plate in Buenos Aires.

The national record previously belonged to Roger Waters, who played nine shows at the legendary “Monumental” venue in March 2012 during his The Wall Live tour.

The British band’s Music Of The Spheres tour resumed in the Argentine capital on 25 October after a string of Brazilian tour dates were postponed until early 2023 when frontman Chris Martin contracted a serious lung infection.

“We have 10 sold-out dates at River Plate Stadium – that’s 650,000 tickets in one city – but I am not surprised because Coldplay have a huge connection with people in Argentina,” said local promoter Diego Finkelstein of Buenos Aires-based DF Entertainment in IQ‘s recent tour report.

“On the last tour, I had lunch with [Coldplay manager] Dave Holmes and told him that we could sell out 10 stadiums in Buenos Aires, but he was reluctant to commit to that many at the time. So when we went on sale, we went with four shows at River Plate and that was supposed to be the end of the tour leg, but the speed they sold out at was incredible, so I pushed for more.”

“It was incredible, but if we wanted, the demand was still there to sell even more dates”

The residency wrapped up with the 10th and final show on 8 November. Finkelstein explained that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar’s unusual November start date proved a blessing in disguise, bringing a halt to domestic football and freeing up River Plate Stadium.

“We invested $2m [€1.96m] in pitch protection to persuade the stadium to give us more dates,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get so many dates at River Plate, so we begged the band to extend the tour. On 24 May, we put shows five, six, and seven on sale and they blew out in one day. The following week we sold out shows eight and nine.

“The 10th show went on sale on 7 June and sold out in two hours. It was incredible, but if we wanted, the demand was still there to sell even more dates.”

A special live broadcast of the group’s 28 October Buenos Aires concert was screened in cinemas in more than 80 countries – a record-breaking number of countries for a live cinema event – topping the box office charts in Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Netherlands, and breaking the top 10 worldwide across the weekend covering 28-30 October, according to Comscore.

“The band’s triumphant return to the stage in Buenos Aires, with the welcomed addition of Jin from BTS as a special guest, clearly resonated on a worldwide scale”

Directed by BAFTA-winning and Grammy-nominated director Paul Dugdale, the presentation saw the band team up once more with Trafalgar Releasing, which also served as executive producer alongside CJ 4DPlex.

“We are elated with the success of the broadcast, following our release of A Head Full of Dreams in 2018,” says Trafalgar Releasing CEO Marc Allenby. “The band’s triumphant return to the stage in Buenos Aires, with the welcomed addition of Jin from BTS as a special guest, clearly resonated on a worldwide scale and once again proved the power of cinema to bring fans together. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Coldplay team in 2023.”

The live event was supported by DHL, which has partnered with the band to reduce carbon emissions from their world tour.

“It’s such a groundbreaking tour in such a challenging market,” Coldplay agent Josh Javor of X-ray Touring told IQ earlier this year. “A lot of other things in the world are just not selling at the moment, but it’s completely bucked the trend.”

Ticket sales for the Music Of The Spheres tour have exceeded 5.4 million since UK and European stadium dates went on sale for 2023.

 


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Coldplay postpone Brazil tour dates

Coldplay have postponed a string of Brazilian tour dates until early 2023 after frontman Chris Martin contracted a serious lung infection.

Two Music Of The Spheres shows at the Estádio Olímpico Nilton Santos in Rio de Janeiro (11-12 October) and a further six at Allianz Parque in Sao Paulo (15-22 October) will now be rescheduled.

The tour, which began in Costa Rica in March, returned to Latin America in September.

“Due to a serious lung infection, Chris has been put under strict doctor’s orders to rest for the next three weeks,” says a statement by the band. “We’re working as fast as possible to lock in the new dates and will follow up with more information in the next few days.

“To everyone in Brazil who was looking forward to these concerts, we’re extremely sorry for any disappointment and inconvenience, and we’re so grateful for your understanding at this challenging time where we need to prioritise Chris’ health.”

“We’re optimistic that Chris will return to good health after the prescribed medical break”

The statement continues: “Please hold on to your tickets as they will be valid for the new rescheduled dates. These will happen in early 2023 and will be announced very soon. However, we will also honour all requests for ticket refunds – which will be available at the point of sale.

“We’re optimistic that Chris will return to good health after the prescribed medical break and look forward to resuming the tour as soon as possible.”

Click here to read IQ‘s in-depth feature behind the scenes of the groundbreaking Music Of The Spheres World Tour. More than 5.4 million tickets have been sold for the tour after the band’s 2023 UK and European stadium dates went on sale in August.

The tour is currently set to resume in Argentina at Estadio River Plate, Buenos Aires on 25 October.

 


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Herman Schueremans on the “happy rebirth” of festivals

Live Nation Belgium CEO and Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans says this summer has been a “happy rebirth of festivals after two years of Covid”.

With a slate of sold-out festivals and concerts, Schueremans has hailed the season as “even better than 2019” and says that Belgium’s recovery is “well in line with the rest of Europe”.

A key highlight for Schueremans was Rock Werchter’s record sell-out which saw 66,000 combi-tickets and 80,000 one-day tickets fly off the shelf by the start of February – months earlier than usual.

Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers and Metallica were among the acts that performed at Belgium’s biggest festival, which took place between 30 June to 3 July in Festivalpark, Werchter.

Sister festivals Werchter Boutique (cap. 60,000) and TW Classic (60,000) also sold out. However one-off event Rock Werchter Encore was called off just one month after it was announced due to “high production costs, staff shortages, and low consumer confidence”.

Elsewhere in LN Belgium’s stable of festivals, Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel sold out after its capacity was expanded from 50,000 capacity to 52,000 to match high demand.

The renowned heavy metal festival, which took place across four days, sold 42,500 combi tickets and 40,000 day tickets, drawing 82,500 unique attendees.

Schueremans has hailed the season as “even better than 2019”

Capitalising further on pent-up demand for festivals, Rock Werchter also launched a new two-day festival in Brussels in partnership with fellow Belgian festival behemoth Tomorrowland.

Core debuted between 27–28 May this year in Osseghem Park, a picturesque nature area in the Belgian capital, featuring an eclectic bill topped by Stormzy, Jamie xx and Mura Masa.

“It was a promising first year with a happy audience, happy artists and happy crew. It will do very well in 2023,” says Schueremans, who attributes the festival’s success to the synergy of the Rock Werchter and Tomorrowland teams.

“We brought both teams together again and made it work like clockwork. They took care of the look of the festival site and gave it a unique feel and our team took care of the artist bill. Together we are strong,” he adds.

Live Nation Belgium has also enjoyed an extraordinary summer of concerts, selling out four stadium shows for Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres tour. With 220,000 tickets sold, Schueremans says it is a new record in Belgium.

And the promoter’s sell-out success is already seeping into next year, having sold out TW Classic (18 June 2023) with headliner Bruce Springsteen, and Harry Styles’ show at Werchter Park (24 June 2023).

Werchter Boutique (17 June 2023) and Rock Werchter (29–30 June and 1–2 July 2023) will also return next year and will soon be announced.

 


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Music of the Spheres – the tour report

While other acts opted to wait until 2023 for their stadium tours, Coldplay took a risk to push ahead this year with their Music of the Spheres tour. And the pay-off has been extraordinary, as fans starved of live music for two years are helping the band smash records. Gordon Masson reports.

With more than 3.5 million tickets sold in 2022, at the start of what is mooted to be a four-year project, Coldplay are in the midst of the biggest tour of their career – not a bad achievement considering it’s also the most eco-friendly stadium tour ever.

When frontman Chris Martin revealed the band would not tour to support their Everyday Life album in late 2019 but would instead try to “work out how our tour can not only be sustainable, [but] how can it be actively beneficial,” the industry wondered whether such ambitions were even possible.

But it turns out that those ideals had been simmering for a couple of years before the shock announcement, as stadia around the world were already on hold for the band’s current Music of the Spheres spectacular, which is laying down blueprints on how to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of touring.

“To be honest, we started to plan this tour when we were on the last tour, in 2017,” band manager Dave Holmes tells IQ. “It seemed crazy at the time, but we were holding venues for 2022 and 2023, as some stadiums actually need to be booked that far in advance.”

“The rate at which they sold – I’ve never seen anything like it, especially in South America where we couldn’t put shows on sale fast enough”

Coronavirus meant that every act had to shut down touring activities, but with Martin’s bold pronouncement never straying far from the headlines, the decision to push ahead with the tour, as scheduled, when many other A-list acts decided to keep playing their wait-and-see strategy, seems to have paid off. Big time.

“We took a big risk in terms of holding these multiples. But the rate at which they sold – I’ve never seen anything like it, especially in South America where we couldn’t put shows on sale fast enough: they’d just sell out on the day,” says Holmes.
With sales for around the 3.5m tickets mark for this year alone, the gamble has been more than worth it. But the challenges the tour principals have had to overcome along the way have been considerable.

Strange Planning
Represented by Marty Diamond at Wasserman Music for North America, Coldplay’s agent since day-one for the rest of the world was Steve Strange, who passed away in 2021. X-ray Touring colleague Josh Javor worked with Strange for many years on the band’s live career and reveals that Music of the Spheres was the final tour they planned together.

“The first show in Costa Rica was very emotional because normally I’d be arm-in-arm with Steve on those occasions,” says Javor. “Steve had been talking about this tour specifically, for a very long time. The band’s last tour was ground-breaking, but it was all just building up to this. He knew that Coldplay would be bigger than they were on A Head Full of Dreams and the venues we booked and tickets we’ve sold prove he was right.

“Just as Steve predicted, this tour is the band’s biggest to date. It’s like his legacy, and it’s very sad that he isn’t around to see just how successful it is.” Holmes comments, “Steve was brilliant. It was never about the money with him: of course, he’d always fight for you to get the best offers, but his focus was always about building the right way; taking it step by step.”

“We sold all six stadium shows in one day, and we could have easily added a couple more dates if there had been availability”

Indeed, the band themselves had to be convinced about the scale of the current tour. “When we were putting the routing together, the band were definitely a little bit unsure,” says Holmes. “It was a little bit shocking for them to see the number of dates – the multiples, in particular. It was eye-opening for them just to realise, ‘Wow, this is where you guys think we’re at now.’ But it’s the biggest tour the band have done, and a lot of that is thanks to the work Steve Strange did over 20-plus years.”

Paradise
In addition to the millions of fans they are thrilling, Coldplay’s promoter partners are a happy bunch. With Live Nation promoting the tour, along with a number of local promoters in key territories, there is universal praise for both the band and their production crew.

At press time, Simon Moran’s SJM Concerts was co-promoting Coldplay’s six dates at Wembley Stadium alongside Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery. “The demand has been incredible,” says Moran. “There was a presale that offered tickets to anyone who bought the album, but when we did the general on-sale, we sold all six stadium shows in one day, and we could have easily added a couple more dates if there had been availability.

“Coldplay’s live shows are just legendary. The number of hits that they have and just the fact that their live performances are so engaging mean that word of mouth basically sells the tickets. A Coldplay stadium show is just a massive event because there’s so much goes into it.

“I’ve never known anyone who has not been blown away by their stadium shows, and I have to say that the current tour is just the best they have created.”

“The tour being eco was very educative for all concerned: the audience, the venue, and us”

Wembley Stadium’s senior commercial manager, James Taylor, notes that Coldplay are only the second act to sell six shows in one year at the new stadium. “This takes them to 12 shows in total and equals the all-time new Wembley Stadium record – a huge achievement,” he says.

“Demand for tickets has been amongst the biggest we have ever seen at Wembley and is testament to the ongoing popularity of the band, who continue to innovate and excite with every tour.”

In Poland, Live Nation’s Grzegorz Kurant is jubilant. “It was a triumphant return,” he says. “Their last show took place in Warsaw in 2017, and it was a great success, but the demand for this year’s show was unprecedented. If there were any new [ticket] releases they were disappearing in seconds.

“The tour being eco was very educative for all concerned: the audience, the venue, and us. Even though we all do our best to be more environment-friendly, the tour was a good reminder and educator of how much still needs to be done.”
PGE Narodowy stadium is also celebrating. “It’s not only the band but also the whole team of technical support and other coordinators who made the concert in Warsaw so special,” says venue manager Jarosław Bodanko. “It doesn’t happen often that the entire production team brings so much passion and commitment to the event’s creation. Coldplay concerts are not only a unique show for concert attendees but also an extraordinary experience for everyone working on its production.”

Kurant adds, “The band are on great form. The modernised [PixMob] wristbands with all the new features are astonishing. The only challenge we had was to find enough tickets to satisfy the demand.”

“We were just coming out of Covid, and we did not know how the public would react or if they had the financial resources to go to a concert”

That’s a similar tale worldwide.

Memo Parra, director of international talent at Mexican promoter OCESA, promoted the band for back-to-back shows in March at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey and a further two dates in Guadalajara’s Estadio Akron. Then, in early April, they smashed records in the capital city.

“We sold out four shows at Foro Sol – more than 250,000 tickets in total. They are the first international act ever to do that,” Parra reports. “It was a very important time for us because we were just coming out of Covid, and we did not know how the public would react or if they had the financial resources to go to a concert. But in the end, we were delighted. Coldplay are a class act, and it is great to work with them.”

Parra is also promoting appearances at Bogotá’s Estadio El Campín – a sales feat he again lauds. “It’s not easy to sell out two stadium shows in Colombia,” he says. “Coldplay are just huge in Latin America now, and we cannot wait to have them come back again next time.”

The most impressive sales numbers, however, belong to Argentina, fulfilling the dreams of local promoter Diego Finkelstein.

“We have ten sold-out dates at River Plate Stadium – that’s 650,000 tickets in one city – but I am not surprised because Coldplay have a huge connection with people in Argentina”

“We have ten sold-out dates at River Plate Stadium – that’s 650,000 tickets in one city – but I am not surprised because Coldplay have a huge connection with people in Argentina,” says Finkelstein who runs DF Entertainment.

“On the last tour, I had lunch with Dave Holmes and told him that we could sell out ten stadiums in Buenos Aires, but he was reluctant to commit to that many at the time. So when we went on sale, we went with four shows at River Plate and that was supposed to be the end of the tour leg, but the speed they sold out at was incredible, so I pushed for more.”

Praising Josh Javor for his part in proceedings, Finkelstein says the FIFA World Cup’s unusual November kick-off means a halt to domestic football, thus freeing up River Plate Stadium.

“We invested $2m [€1.96m] in pitch protection to persuade the stadium to give us more dates,” he continues. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get so many dates at River Plate, so we begged the band to extend the tour. On 24 May, we put shows five, six, and seven on sale and they blew out in one day. The following week we sold out shows eight and nine.”

Coldplay were similarly blown away and recorded a video in Spanish to thank their Argentine fans. “It was perfect,” says Finkelstein. “The tenth show went on sale on 7 June and sold out in two hours. It was incredible, but if we wanted, the demand was still there to sell even more dates.”

“I came in just six or seven weeks from the start of the tour, so there was a lot of catching up to do”

Having already seen the spectacle in Chicago (twice) and Paris, Finkelstein is counting the days until Coldplay arrive in Buenos Aires. And citing the use of the third-generation PixMob – that in keeping with the rest of the tour are now produced using plant-based materials – Finkelstein believes that incorporating the audience into the show has elevated Coldplay to the top.

“What they deliver is this amazing immersive show for all the family. I cannot wait to see all ten shows in Buenos Aires.”

Don’t Panic
Another unforeseen challenge for team Coldplay happened earlier this year when long-time production manager Bill Leabody had to step back because of health issues. He recommended Jake Berry as his replacement, and thankfully the production guru was available.

“I came in just six or seven weeks from the start of the tour, so there was a lot of catching up to do,” says Berry.

As Leabody had spent months setting everything up, Berry found himself in unfamiliar waters, inheriting suppliers he hadn’t worked with before. “When I came along, everybody thought, ‘Oh, here comes the hatchet man: everybody’s gonna leave,’” laughs Berry. “But that was never going to be the case – there’s no point breaking up a happy crew. And besides, I couldn’t have found any suppliers able to do it in terms of equipment and the logistics that were already in place.”

“It’s a bit like stepping back in time for us old enough to remember the 70s and 80s, when we used to have to deal with carnets”

With Covid policies still in place at the start of the tour, the initial shows from Costa Rica to Mexico entailed lockdown bubbles. “Our policy would be if somebody felt sick, we would test; if they were positive, we would isolate,” says Berry. “That would mean leaving somebody behind, on their own in a hotel, and they’d catch up later. So that could be for ten days, but now it’s down to five days.”

Another dilemma to deal with has been the aftermath of Brexit. Berry is unfazed. “It’s a bit like stepping back in time for us old enough to remember the 70s and 80s, when we used to have to deal with carnets.” And he’s pragmatic about related issues. “New driver regulations and things that have changed because of the British structure in Europe didn’t really fall upon us – it fell upon the suppliers to make it work. We order what we need, and we expect the companies to do all the logistics.”

The Scientist(s)
Having very publicly proclaimed that touring would not resume until the band had figured out a more environmentally friendly way to hit the road, team Coldplay has been involved in an intense three-year period of research and development.

“Luckily for us, once Chris had mentioned it in an interview, we had an overwhelming response of people approaching us with different ideas and technologies,” explains Holmes.

As a result, the array of new tech and concepts that are being used on the production is extensive, including: state-of-the-art batteries supplied by BMW, wind-turbine technology on delay towers, solar blankets on unused seats in venues, trucks powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel, and floor covers that can turn the kinetic energy created by fans dancing into electricity. More on the latter two, anon.

“Coldplay set a very high standard. They’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and money into trying to meet their sustainability goals”

Those measures have been put in place to meet the band’s pledge to make the tour “as sustainable and low-carbon as possible,” guided by three key principles: reduce, reinvent and restore.

Indeed, ongoing development will result in the 2023 introduction of generators that can run on either hydrogen, diesel, or biodiesel. “I wouldn’t want to say the name of the company behind them, yet,” states Holmes, “but their generators are a quarter of the size of the ones we currently use. And the fact they can be so versa- tile with different fuels will be a game-changer for the whole world.”

Other proposals, such as a bamboo stage system, however, had to be dropped, reluctantly. “We realised there was no guarantee that we could tour a bamboo stage everywhere in the world because different countries have different rules about bringing in trees, plants, and vegetables, and it would have fallen under that category,” says Holmes.

The Hardest Part
The band’s ambitions to cut the touring carbon footprint by 50% has forced suppliers and their logistics experts to take a long hard look at their own operations and equipment. But that task has, reportedly, been universally welcomed, as any savings made with Coldplay can be implemented – and improved upon – for future clients.

“Coldplay set a very high standard,” says Berry. “They’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and money into trying to meet their sustainability goals, and they’re so far ahead in their planning that government infrastructure is not up to speed. If it was a 100-metre dash, we’d to be ten metres in front of them at the finish line.”

“We feel proud to be part of their commitment to bringing music to the masses whilst being respectful of the world we live in”

As an example, Berry cites sourcing HVO fuel for vehicles as particularly irksome. “We used it wherever we could in America, but it was very regional,” he says. “It was great in California and places like Texas, but when we got to the east coast, it was really, really difficult. We are try- ing to set a standard, but the infrastructure isn’t there to support us.”

Determined to meet their targets, the band purchased 65,000 litres of HVO through truck- ing vendor Stagetruck, meaning the trucks were fully fuelled when they left the depot in England. “The idea was that we would buy more HVO along the way in Europe, but it’s just not avail- able in certain places, and it’s not worth the car- bon footprint to deliver it to the trucks onsite.”

However, the ‘green’ solution to that problem has been very grown up. “Now, when there’s a tour going out from the Stagetruck yard, they fill up those trucks with our fuel,” reports Berry. “The fuel is still being used to cut the carbon footprint. It may not all be on the Coldplay tour but it’s a very clever idea.”

For his part, Stagetruck boss Robert Hewett says, “We have a long-standing relationship with the band and spent time working with production to ensure we can supply the 40-plus strong team of trucks and drivers, to fit in line with their pledge to tour in an as environmentally friendly manner as possible.

“Along with staging, lights, audio, and cater- ing, we are also trucking two trailers of rechargeable [BMW] batteries, which [provide] power via solar photovoltaic panels. Our trucks are monitored to run as efficiently as possible, and the routing is carefully planned to ensure we are not burning extra diesel unnecessarily. It’s always a great pleasure working with Coldplay and their team, and we feel proud to be part of their commitment to bringing music to the masses whilst being respectful of the world we live in.”

“Everyone decided that even if it costs a little bit more money to get the same effect, if it has less environmental impact, we should do it”

Other suppliers have also upped their game in terms of reassessing efficient touring.

Nashville-based Strictly FX is supplying lasers, confetti, and pyro for the tour, which have also been put under the eco microscope. “All the confetti is biodegradable and doesn’t contain any PVC,” says the company’s art director David Kennedy, adding that their pyro product is also more sustainable. He notes, “There have been cost implications, but everyone decided that even if it costs a little bit more money to get the same effect, if it has less environmental impact, we should do it.”

However, he stresses that wellbeing remains paramount. “Sustainability comes second to the safety of something that explodes next to the band,” he says. “The flames use a standard fluid, so we’re generally getting that locally wherever we can because it doesn’t make sense to ship it. And the flame cannons themselves are now smaller units, so our freight impact is drastically reduced.”

Speed of Sound
On the audio side, Wigwam Acoustics has been working with the band for around 17 years, and company founder Chris Hill reveals the green goals of the latest tour mean that rather than flying most of the PA, “we’ve gone back to more conventional PA towers.” The company is also using equipment that requires significantly less power than on the previous Coldplay tour.

And noting the new leadership in the band’s touring set-up, Hill says, “When there’s a change of production manager, it usually means change everywhere. But Jake has basically left us to it because the audio department is kind of self-contained and doesn’t give him any grief.”

“Logistically, it’s been a major operation, as we have planned the most eco-friendly routes for supplying our equipment in all territories”

Indeed, highlighting the camaraderie among rivals in the audio business, Hill adds, “Going from zero into the summer madness where the challenges are not only with crew but also warehouse staff, manufacturers, and various supply-chain issues, has not been easy. Luckily, I have a great relationship with most of our competitors and most of them are good friends, so we all talk and try to support each other.”

When it comes to steel, Music of the Spheres is one of the few genuine world tours currently being serviced by Stageco, according to its project manager Dirk De Decker. “Logistically, it’s been a major operation, as we have planned the most eco-friendly routes for supplying our equipment in all territories,” he advises. “Jake Berry’s production team assess which local services can be called upon to meet the design’s requirements, and we provide the remaining custom elements that are irreplaceable.”

A significant engineering effort, four separate systems have been fabricated for the tour by Stageco. Two systems have been travelling around Europe while, to avoid shipping across the Atlantic, the other two were based in the United States. Each system is contained within 15 trucks and includes the materials to build each iconic part of the scenery, including the stunning moonrise arch.

In addition, Stageco’s crew – headed by Johan ‘Bellekes’ Van Espen, Stefaan Van Den Bossche, and a third team leader in America – build a50m upstage arc, two 23m high ‘pylons’ at left and right to support video screens, and a pair of custom sound towers, each with a large cantile- ver, designed in collaboration with Coldplay’s head of audio.

De Decker adds, “It’s a 72-hour steel build for us [with a single-day load-out]. All of the elements we are constructing are unconnected. No single element depends on the other, and this offers us a lot of practical flexibility on-site.”

“The artwork resembles galaxies in the universe, so the TAIT scenic team added designs in several layers to make it feel like the stars, words, and symbols were appearing from the darkness”

Another significant partner on production is TAIT, which is providing a custom mainstage sprung floor made to interact with the show’s various stages.

“Every deck surface is treated with an anti-skid treatment to allow the performers safety out in the elements, but more powerful than that is the hand-painted scenic over the entire stage,” explains TAIT senior project manager Shannon Nickerson.

“The production team provided renders and TAIT was able to create a system to paint the custom designs and layout words in Kaotican – the language created by Coldplay. The artwork resembles galaxies in the universe, so the TAIT scenic team added designs in several layers to make it feel like the stars, words, and symbols were appearing from the darkness.”

TAIT also constructed the show’s multi- coloured alien mirror ball, which houses eight lasers within it, meaning the cueing has to have pinpoint accuracy to ensure the safety of the audience.

Prospekt’s March
Among the most high-profile tech that the band is using on the tour is their kinetic floor covering – one of a myriad of products that specialists eps are supplying for the tour.

“Coldplay was my first tour, so I have an emotional connection to the band”

“Being involved on Music of the Spheres is a very special situation for me because Coldplay was my first tour, so I have an emotional connection to the band,” says eps chief Okan Tombulca.

“We do the barriers, the cable covers, the seat drapes, and we also have a solar system that we can place on the unused seats in the grandstands, depending on whether they face the sun or not. And, of course, we have the kinetic floor, which we developed together with a Dutch company to try to realise one of the ideas Coldplay themselves had.”

Indeed, Tombulca believes that the state-of-the-art floor might quickly pay for itself because it is no bigger than normal ground protection systems. “The truck space for the floor is probably around about the same,” he says.

PM Berry observes, “We have two of the kinetic floors – they’re about five-metre disks and they’re quite sophisticated. I tell people, ‘the more you jump, the louder the band will play,’ but we’re actually using the energy to help power the C stage a little bit for the lighting.

He continues, “They are brand-new so the technology’s not there yet where we can create enough energy to do it all. But back when the Vari-Lite first came out, there was only one moving light. Now there are 4,000, and they’re all 100 times better. So somebody will take this kinetic floor idea and build something that creates more energy.

“Their partnership with Coldplay is very experimental, so there will be successes and failures, but the goal is to try to change the whole paradigm of international touring”

“We’re learning as we go,” admits Berry. “We didn’t know it all to start with – certainly, I knew nothing – but it’s very, very exciting.”

Freight specialists Global Motion have worked with Coldplay for 16 years and have recently helped the band establish a new partnership with shipping giants DHL, which runs an extensive number of proactive sustainability programmes, such as windfarms in India and dams in Laos.

“We’ve worked lots with DHL in the past, using their infrastructure and helping them with projects, where the need arises,” explains managing director Adam Hatton. “Their partnership with Coldplay is very experimental, so there will be successes and failures, but the goal is to try to change the whole paradigm of international touring.”

Hatton believes everyone now has to make decisions on what is worth spending carbon on and what is not. “Everyone needs to carry less equipment internationally to make a difference,” he says. “That means less work and less profit for Global Motion, but in my view, going forward there will be more tours that are smaller, rather than the huge spectacles we’ve become used to.”

Ahead of personally handling the freight needs for Coldplay when they return to Latin America in September, Hatton reports that the crippling pandemic fees of up to six- and seven-times normal costs are gradually falling. “It’s now about 250% of where it should be,” he reports. “It’s a lot better than what it was and, personally, I don’t think it will ever come down to what the costs were pre-Covid.”

“Right now, you really have to entice local crew to come to work. Nobody’s going to show up if you’re going to pay them for four hours”

Immensely popular with contractors and their personnel, Coldplay are renowned in production circles for factoring in generous breaks to the touring schedule, often with a three- weeks-on, two-weeks-off rotation to allow band members and everyone else to spend quality time with their families.

Newcomer Berry believes such concepts en- gender loyalty, but he notes that the post-Covid scramble to assemble skilled staff has still been a significant test. “We’re not frugal on local crew because we want to get the production up and running quickly and tweak it in the same day before going into 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning,” explains Berry.

“Right now, you really have to entice local crew to come to work. Nobody’s going to show up if you’re going to pay them for four hours. It’s not worth it – they won’t show up. So you need to consider day rates. And if you need 20 hands, you always book 24.”

Appreciative of the way Coldplay take care of their crew, Wigwam’s Hill tells IQ, “They’ve al- ways tried to do the right thing, and we’ve always felt like part of the Coldplay family… it makes people go the extra mile because they’ve been looked after.”

Explaining that the generously scheduled time off also allows suppliers to carry out maintenance on equipment, Hill adds, “The amount of consoles we have on this tour is quite spectacular. Because we had some custom built, we took them back in the break between Paris and Brussels and literally stripped them down, fixed a few bugs, and serviced them.”

“Sustainability is now ingrained in every event, production, and tour we cater for”

With more than 300 mouths to feed on a show day, caterers Eat to the Beat have a 14-strong party on the road with the band – a far cry from when the company worked on Coldplay’s first tour in 2000.

“Sustainability is now ingrained in every event, production, and tour we cater for. We’re constantly striving to minimise our carbon footprint, and Coldplay is no exception,” says Kim Joyce, Eat to the Beat account manager. “Specific examples include sourcing local produce; accurate head counts to reduce food wastage; minimising single-use plastics and having a varied selection of delicious plant-based meals in our menus.”

She adds, “We have a relay system in place whereby we send an advance team on to the next city on the tour to source the local produce. We have completely cut out plastic-bottled water on the entire tour. We have aluminium bottles or cartons of water, and everyone has a refillable water bottle for use at the water cooler. We’ve also given everyone an Eat to the Beat branded mug and reusable coffee cup with a lid, which has massively reduced waste.”

In My Place
One major factor in the band’s plan to cut emissions is the tour’s residency feel – stopping in capital cities for multiple dates.

“You can’t tour in a sustainable way by travelling every day,” states Javor. “The great thing about Coldplay is there is such demand in each country and city for them: they can sell 180,000-200,000 tickets in Berlin; Frankfurt, Brussels, and Paris are similar. And when we look at where the audience is travelling from, they’re not travel- ling that far – they’re mostly locals – so we’re cut- ting down on carbon footprint for the fans, too.”

“It might sound crazy because of the volume of tickets we’re selling, but there’s still a fair amount being left on the table”

Berry observes, “You can recite the European tour on a postage stamp – three Frankfurts, one Warsaw, three Berlins, four Parises, four Brussels, six Wembleys, and two Glasgows. That’s Europe. And then we go to South America where, once again, the band is so popular that we can afford to stay in cities for two, three, four, six dates, and in the case of Buenos Aires, ten nights.”

Agent for North America, Marty Diamond, had the band play a dozen shows in May and June. “Josh [Javor] and I work in lockstep in terms of the scheduling and the band’s availability, while we also work very closely with our promoter partners,” says Diamond.

He says that while Coldplay are capable of playing multiple dates in the metropolis cities, for the first US leg of the current tour, “We were trying to cover off a lot of territory in a very short period of time, so that’s why most of the cities were just single dates.”

Diamond reveals the band will return for another stadium run in America in 2023, adding, “The band are always pushing the envelope in terms of creativity. This tour just takes everything to the next level.”

Javor says that plans for the current tour remain consistent with previous outings. “When Coldplay last toured in 2017, we left a lot on the table even though we sold out everywhere. It might sound crazy because of the volume of tickets we’re selling, but there’s still a fair amount being left on the table this time, too.

“We’re playing eight stadiums in Brazil, plus a 100,000-capacity festival – Rock in Rio. We’re playing ten shows in Argentina, two shows in Colombia, two shows in Peru, four shows in Chile. It’s huge but, in truth, we could have sold more.”

PM Berry is a newly converted fan and is also looking forward to the record-breaking run in Argentina. “I love the energy that Coldplay have,” he says. “It’s a family show where you can bring your three-year-old kid or your 80-year-old grandmother, and they’re all gonna leave singing or whistling a song. And that’s why we all do what we do.”

This feature appeared in the current issue of IQ Magazine (113), which can be read here.

 


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Cinemas to screen Coldplay Buenos Aires concert

Coldplay have announced a special live broadcast of the Music Of The Spheres World Tour from Buenos Aires’ River Plate Stadium, which will be screened in thousands of cinemas across more than 70 countries.

The 70,000-cap show in Argentina on 28 October (or 29 October, depending on the timezone) will mark the first ever live worldwide cinema broadcast of a concert from Latin America.

Directed by BAFTA-winning and Grammy-nominated director Paul Dugdale, the presentation sees the band team up once more with Trafalgar Releasing, which is also serving as executive producer alongside CJ 4DPlex.

“We are delighted to be partnering again with the Coldplay team on this major live broadcast, having established a successful partnership with the 2018 documentary release A Head Full Of Dreams,” says Trafalgar Releasing CEO Marc Allenby.

Ticket sales for the Music Of The Spheres World Tour recently passed 5.4 million

“We are also extending our partnership with CJ 4DPlex on this live event featuring one of the world’s biggest artists, giving fans the opportunity to experience the phenomenal Music Of The Spheres tour on the big screen across the globe in unison.”

Repeat screenings will also be available worldwide. The live event is supported by Coldplay’s official logistics partner DHL, which is partnering with the band to reduce carbon emissions from their world tour.

Ticket sales for the Music Of The Spheres World Tour recently passed 5.4 million after UK and European stadium dates went on sale for 2023.

Check out the latest issue of IQ for an in-depth look at the groundbreaking tour.

 


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IQ 113 out now: Coldplay, Lucy Dickins and more

IQ 113, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

The August edition sees IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson go behind the scenes of Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres global tour and explore the band’s record-breaking success.

Elsewhere, he profiles WME’s global head of contemporary music and touring, Lucy Dickins, charting her extraordinary rise through the corporate ranks.

Meanwhile, our metal expert James MacKinnon tracks the genre’s impressive post-pandemic recovery, and Adam Woods learns about the mixed fortunes confronting touring artists and productions in an otherwise buoyant Swedish live music market.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Professor Chris Kemp examines the changing landscape of crowd behaviour in the post-Covid environment, and Music Support‘s Lynne Maltman provides a sobering reminder of the collective promises we made for our mental health.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £7.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:


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Coldplay world tour ticket sales hit 5.4 million

Ticket sales for Coldplay’s Music Of The Spheres World Tour have hit 5.4 million after the band’s 2023 UK and European stadium dates went on sale.

A total of 1.4 million tickets have already been sold for next year’s shows in Portugal, Spain, UK, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, including a host of extra dates added due to demand.

The group wrapped up the 2022 European leg at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on Wednesday (24 August). The global jaunt, which began in March, switches to Latin America in September.

The tour has also been heralded for its groundbreaking sustainability initiatives, which include a show powered by 100% renewable energy in almost all locations; the world’s first tourable battery system (made from 40 BMW electric car batteries); power bikes and kinetic dancefloors allowing fans to help power the show.

It has also included solar panels and wind turbines at every venue; a pledge to cut tour emissions by 50%; incentives to encourage fans to travel by green transport; and one tree planted for every ticket sold.

“The band is a juggernaut, a true powerhouse”

Costa Rica – where the band became the first artist to sell out two nights at Estadio Nacional – marked the starting point in March, prior to a stop in the Dominican Republic. A record-breaking visit to Mexico then followed, which saw them crowned as the first international act to play four sold-out concerts at Foro Sol in Mexico City and the only act to sell out two nights at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey, as well as Estadio Akron in Guadalajara.

“It’s the most spectacular run through Latin America ever,” Live Nation LA president Bruce Moran told IQ earlier this year. “Our expectations were high and we were aggressive in terms of the routing, but it has surpassed any expectations. It’s truly remarkable. The band is a juggernaut, a true powerhouse and we’re really excited to be involved.”

The group’s previous A Head Full Of Dreams tour of 2016/17 was attended by 5.38m people across 122 shows for a total gross of $523 million.

The next issue of IQ features an in-depth look at the groundbreaking Music Of The Spheres tour. Issue 113 of IQ is out next week.

 


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Coldplay tour tops 4m ticket sales, extends to ’23

Coldplay have announced UK and European stadium dates for 2023 after their Music Of The Spheres world tour surpassed four million ticket sales.

The band, who completed their six-night sold-out run at Wembley Stadium last night (21 August), have now confirmed the tour will extend into next year with new concerts added in Portugal, Spain, the UK, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The global trek, which began in Costa Rica in March, heads to Glasgow’s Hampden Park in Scotland later this week for two shows before switching to Latin America in September.

“It’s such a groundbreaking tour in such a challenging market”

“We had no doubt it was going to be massive, but to be able to pull off what they’ve done is a very unique thing that would be tough to beat,” the band’s agent Josh Javor of X-ray Touring told IQ earlier this summer. “We’ve broken a bunch of records already.

“It’s not very easy to define a specific window of how long this tour will run. There are lots more places they still want to play, so we will continue as long as they want to. It’s such a groundbreaking tour in such a challenging market. A lot of other things in the world are just not selling at the moment, but it’s completely bucked the trend.”

The tour has also been heralded for its groundbreaking sustainability initiatives, including a show powered by 100% renewable energy in almost all locations; the world’s first tourable battery system (made from 40 BMW electric car batteries); power bikes and kinetic dancefloors allowing fans to help power the show; solar panels and wind turbines at every venue; a pledge to cut tour emissions by 50%; incentives to encourage fans to travel by green transport; and one tree planted for every ticket sold.

The group’s previous A Head Full Of Dreams tour was attended by 5.28m people

A report by Bloomberg says Coldplay have been charging an average of US$77.80 per ticket.

The group’s previous A Head Full Of Dreams tour of 2016/17 was attended by 5.38m people across 122 shows for a total gross of $523 million.

The full list of new Music Of The Spheres tour dates is as follows:

Estádio Cidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal (17 May)

Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Barcelona, Spain (24-25 May)

Etihad Stadium, Manchester, UK (31 May-1 June)

Principality Stadium, Cardiff, UK (6 June)

Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy (21 June)

Stadio San Siro, Milan, Italy (25-26 June)

Stadion Letzigrund, Zurich, Switzerland (1 July)

Parken, Copenhagen, Denmark (5-6 July)

Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden (8-9 July)

Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands (15-16 July)

The next issue of IQ features an in-depth look at the groundbreaking Music Of The Spheres tour. Issue 113 of IQ is out next week.

 


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