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Really Useful plans music push with Gaydon hire

Really Useful Theatres, which owns and operates six theatres in the West End of London, has appointed ex-Roundhouse head of music Dave Gaydon as its head of programming.

Gaydon will work alongside Rebecca Kane Burton, formerly general manager of The O2, to present more live music at Really Useful’s venues, particularly the 2,286-capacity London Palladium.

The Palladium, described in a press release as the “jewel in the group’s crown”, recently underwent a £1 million refurbishment, and has in the past 12 months hosted shows by Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Coldplay, Bon Jovi and Kaiser Chiefs. (Dylan’s agent, ITB’s Barry Dickins, describes his three nights at the Palladium as a “wonderful experience”.)

Gaydon (pictured) will remain as a director of GOAT Music, the events agency which last year staged its first festival, GOAT Festival, in Goa, India, although Really Useful says his “focus” will be chiefly on his new role.

“I am delighted and feel privileged to be part of the move into a new era for this incredible venue”

He comments: “I am delighted and feel privileged to be part of the move into a new era for this incredible venue. There are a whole host of both heritage and contemporary artists that I know will work fantastically well in the intimate setting of the Palladium, and I’m looking forward programming some great gigs.”

“Since taking the helm here, I’ve been keen to secure the right music person to propel the London Palladium forward and secure the calibre of acts this world-famous stage deserves,” adds Kane Burton.

“Dave’s credentials at the Roundhouse and beyond speak for themselves. I’m thrilled he’s joined us and can’t wait to see how the place flourishes under his creative direction.”

Really Useful Theatres is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lord Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. Its other venues are Her Majesty’s Theatre (1,216-cap.), Adelphi Theatre (1,500-cap.), Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (2,196-cap.), Cambridge Theatre (1,231-cap.), New London Theatre (1,024-cap.) and the newly acquired The Other Palace (312-cap.), which opened as the St James Theatre in 2012 on the site of the former Westminster Theatre.


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Gaydon on GOAT Fest: ‘Most intense experience of my life’

When GOAT Music – the bookings and events agency co-founded by the Roundhouse’s former head of music, Dave Gaydon – announced last November its first festival would be in Goa, the choice of location met with some raised eyebrows at IQ Towers.

The coastal state had, after all, already driven away festival colossi Sunburn and Supersonic – each of which attracted hundreds of thousands of EDM fans (and rupees) to the region annually – and a chronic shortage of cash was then emptying venues and cancelling festivals nationwide.

As it turned out, however, the biggest hurdle to organising GOAT Festival, the newest addition to the festival calendar in the world’s largest democracy, came in the form of election season.

“We were told elections were definitely going to take place in April,” Gaydon explains, “but as soon as we stepped off the plane at the beginning at January, we found out they were on 4 February. So we had to rapidly rethink what we were going to do.”

Gaydon tells IQ the plan was originally to hold the daytime portion of GOAT Festival in the inland jungles of northern Goa, but was forced to decamp to a new festival site on Marbela Beach, in Morjim – originally slated as the night-time venue – after its licence was revoked.

“We wanted it to keep it about the locals while also exposing international travellers to amazing Indian artists”

The difficulty in staging live acts on Marbela also necessitated a change in format and line-up, with Hercules and Love Affair, Dope St Jude, Sorceress and Yussef Kamaal among the performers axed from the programme.

“People had already bought tickets, so we had to salvage something,” continues Gaydon. “We lost a few acts, but we were still able to do a really good, diverse programme, as well as other things like yoga, massages, gong therapy…”

Despite the logistical difficulties posed by the impending elections – the Goan government is disbanded after elections are announced, explains Gaydon, with an election commission taking over and rigorous restrictions imposed on public events – he emphasises the Department of Tourism was “hugely supportive” of GOAT’s vision for the event.

“We sold them the idea of a Western-style festival like Secret Garden Party,” continues Gaydon, who says he made it clear it “wouldn’t be like an EDM event” (read: loud music and drugs) but more of an exchange between Western and Indian culture. “We told the tourism board we wanted it to keep it about locals, Indians, while also exposing international travellers to amazing Indian artists, which is why we had half Indian artists and half from the rest of the world.”

The 2,300+ attendees, too, were a “really good mix”, he says, with an even split between Indians and foreigners.

“People had already bought tickets, so we had to salvage something”

In spite of the setbacks – which also included the festival kicking off silently at 2pm on 27 January because the final licence didn’t arrive until 3.30 – Gaydon says Team GOAT will definitely be back in Goa next year. “We’ve invested so much time, energy and money into the festival,” he says. “Amazingly, we only made a small loss – and now we’ve got great content and ideas [for future events]”.

Gaydon says while GOAT Festival, whose capacity is currently 3,000+, will never approach Sunburn levels, he hopes to increase visitor numbers year on year, to an eventual goal of between 5,000 and 6,000. “We ran it unsponsored this year,” he adds, “but we can now go to sponsors with imagery and figures and say, ‘This is what we’re doing…'”

GOAT’s long-term goal, he concludes, is to cement its relationships with the local industry and “establish ourselves as promoters in India”.

So, no regrets?

“It was the most intense experience of my life – but well worth it in the end.”


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