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DHP Family buys into Bearded Theory

Multi-faceted UK promoter and venue operator DHP Family has linked up with alternative independent music festival Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering.

DHP, which runs Nottingham’s famed Rock City venue, will work in partnership with festival founders Richard Bryan and Stephen Blount on the event.

As a venue owner, festival organiser and national live promoter, Bearded Theory will complement DHP’s existing portfolio, which includes family festival Splendour and new music festival Dot To Dot.

“This is an exciting venture between two iconic music names that are a natural fit in terms of music heritage,” says DHP Family MD George Akins. “Richard and the Bearded Theory team have done a fantastic job with the festival, and we’re delighted to be continuing the story together over the coming years.”

Anton Lockwood, DHP’s director of live, adds: “We’re excited Bearded Theory is joining DHP Family. As the UK’s biggest national independent promoter, we value the ethos and spirit of the festival and respect its history. From within our great team, we will bring our knowledge, expertise and industry contacts to the festival.”

“Our festival future is secure, which is great news for all”

Situated on the borders of Derbyshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, Bearded Theory returns from 26-29 May for its first edition since 2019. Topping the bill will be Flaming Lips, Patti Smith and Placebo, with other acts including Working Men’s Club, Nova Twins and Do Nothing.

Bryan and Blount will continue to be at the forefront of the festival’s delivery.

“We’re excited to be working with the team behind Rock City as this is without a doubt a great cultural fit for both parties,” says Bryan. “We have been looking at ways to improve the event without it losing its ethos, ethics and identity and to gain the support needed for it to continue to blossom, we are delighted to have found the answer with the Midlands favourite music family.”

Blount adds: “Our festival future is secure, which is great news for all of us involved behind the scenes and the many thousands of our loyal fans who return year after year.”

 


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Friday round-up: World news in brief 10/12/21

Welcome to IQ‘s weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…

GERMANY:

Slipknot are expanding their festival footprint by taking their Knotfest brand to Germany. The 25,000-cap. Knotfest Germany will debut in and around Rudolf Weber-Arena in Oberhausen on 30 July, 2022. Headlined by Slipknot, the Live Nation-promoted event will feature 10 bands in total, including In Flames and Ghostemane. Brazil and Chile editions are also planned for next year.

UNITED STATES:

In his first interview since the Astroworld tragedy, Travis Scott has said he did not realise that fans were hurt during his performance at the Live Nation-promoted festival. Ten people, aged between nine and 27, died following a crowd crush during Scott’s headline set at the 50,000-cap. NRG Park in Houston, Texas on 5 November. The US rapper has been criticised for not ending his show earlier. “I stopped a couple of times… at the end of the day you just hear music,” he told Breakfast Club presenter Charlamagne Tha God.

SOUTH KOREA:

Korea’s first ever metaverse gig, the K-Vibe Concert, was staged by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organisation on 8 December. Hosted by Asia’s largest metaverse platform Zepeto, the XR show featured acts from the first to the fourth generation of K-pop, including BoA, SHINee’s Key, Aespa, DJ Raiden, Brave Girls, Mommy Son, and Wonstein. The concert also brought together various other aspects of the Korean Wave, from dance to dramas, beauty and webtoons.

UNITED STATES:

Organisers of Elements Festival are facing a class action lawsuit following the event’s ill-fated 2021 edition, which took place in Lakewood, Pennsylvania from 3-6 September. The electronic music festival fell victim to inclement weather precipitated by Hurricane Ida. EDM.com now reports that three claimants allege promoters failed to “properly organise, prepare, and provide ticket purchasers and attendees of the Elements Festival 2021 with the experience defendants extensively promoted and marketed as being a safe, packaged, multi-day camping and music festival”.

SOUTH AMERICA:

After confirming Los Angeles and Chile spin-offs, Spain’s Primavera Sound has now announced Brazil and Argentina legs for 2022. Primavera’s first Brazil event will be held in Sao Paolo from 31 October to November 6, while its inaugural Argentina festival will take place in Buenos Aires from 7-13 November.

UNITED STATES:

Metallica will livestream their 40th anniversary concerts from San Francisco’s Chase Center on 17 and 19 December. The sets will air on Amazon Music and Prime before becoming available to watch on The Coda Collection/Prime Video Channel.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Scotland music convention Wide Days is returning to Edinburgh as a physical event from 19-21 May 2022, with a conference, one-to-one meetings and live performances. It will also feature a range of informal networking opportunities including guided tours, whisky tasting and exotic soft-drink sampling. As part of the convention, Wide Days will showcase the six emerging Scottish acts, selected for the international talent development programme, presented in partnership with PRS Foundation, which is open to musicians, producers and DJs of any genre who apply via a free application process (deadline 13 January). Tickets for Wide Days are on sale now at a special early bird rate.

UNITED STATES:

Madison Square Garden Entertainment has announced that it will be taking its custom camera technology – being developed for its MSG Sphere venue – to space. The company has received a research award from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to leverage the International Space Station (ISS) US National Laboratory to develop and test its ultra-high fidelity, ultra-high-resolution camera system. MSG Entertainment is planning to conduct three missions over the next several years, with the goal of developing a custom MSG Sphere camera system capable of capturing the Earth at a level of detail never before possible.

UNITED KINGDOM:

More than 200 guests attended The Blue Moon Gala at the new Outernet London to celebrate UNICEF’s 75th anniversary. The star-studded, special event, which featured performances from Duran Duran and Arlo Parks, raised £770,000 to help UNICEF continue its work for children around the world. A major new immersive media, music and culture district in London’s West End, Outernet fully opens in 2022, with details to be announced in the new year.

GERMANY:
Billie Eilish was virtually honoured with the German Sustainability Award by astronaut Matthias Maurer (ESA), who was on board the international space station ISS. Singers Joss Stone and Chris de Burgh also received the honorary award at the ceremony in Düsseldorf, which recognises ideas for the future and top achievements in sustainability in the fields of business, research and communities.

UNITED KINGDOM:

UK promoter and venue operator DHP Family has announced two key promotions within the marketing team as it continues its commitment to nurture and develop talent within the company. Anwyn Williams has been promoted to head of marketing, while Matt Newton steps up to become marketing manager.

UNITED STATES:

ASM Global has appointed David Feeley as general manager of the Target Center in Minneapolis. An industry veteran with more than 23 years of experience in event and facility operations, Feeley joins ASM Global following a lengthy stint as an operations executive with MGM Resorts.

UNITED KINGDOM:

London-based online platform GigRealm, which provides an end-to-end solution for organising live music performances, has announced a wide-ranging new partnership with The F-List for Music. Founded by former BASCA CEO Vick Bain, the F-List is the first directory of its kind to feature up-to-date information on UK-based female musicians, songwriters and composers. The new partnership will see GigRealm and The F-List team up to create pathways and opportunities for female musicians in the live music space.

 


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Spend, no-shows and demand all up in UK, say promoters

Leading promoters in the UK live industry say they’re experiencing mixed fortunes following the full reopening in England on 19 July.

As the sector launches into recovery mode, executives are reporting high levels of pent-up demand for many shows.

Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland, says: “Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands.

“Thankfully our festivals happened, and we were very pleased with sales which proves that the demand for live music is still going strong. Now we’re moving into touring season and we have a busy schedule lined up for the rest of the year and into 2022.”

As the live sector prepares for what looks to be its busiest year ever from 1 January, promoters say the UK’s next challenge will be keeping up with demand given that much of the supply chain has yet to recover.

“We’ve got 18 months of touring coming up across the UK and all of the suppliers are going to be hugely stretched,” says Richard Buck, CEO of TEG MJR, the UK subsidiary of Sydney-based live entertainment and ticketing firm TEG.

“Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands”

Desmond agrees, adding: “Going forward there are still challenges including issues with the supply chain and many talented specialists have been forced to leave the sector, plus there remain complexities for touring in Europe post-Brexit.”

And as an autumn period of touring kicks off, the ongoing spectre of Covid-19 is a continued source of uncertainty for promoters who say the rate of no-shows at concerts is far higher than usual.

Buck reports “anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows. It’s a little less if the show is taking place closer to the time when it was announced but at sell-out shows, there has been significant no-attendance”.

Buck believes the no-shows are down to an “amalgamation of low confidence, forgotten tickets and isolating” and predicts three to six months for the levels of attendance to go back to what they were pre-pandemic.

UK-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family is also experiencing high rates of no-shows and says it’s increasingly hard to predict attendance post-Freedom Day.

“[Attendance] varies by artist and how many times the show has been rescheduled etc,” says DHP’s director of live, Anton Lockwood.

“[There has been] anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows”

“We’ve seen 20–30% on bigger shows. Typically smaller shows are less predictable; it can be 100% attendance or, if it’s the kind of show where the artist has been relying on their friends and family to turn up, it can be up to 75%. It’s all over the place.”

While refund requests are reportedly very low, most events are currently offering a refund to ticket holders who can’t attend due to a Covid-related illness on a discretionary basis.

“If it’s a rescheduled show, you’re entitled to a refund, the end,” says DHP’s Lockwood. “But there’s a debate about if you’ve got Covid, whether you’re entitled to a refund or we should just give a refund out of kindness.”

Fortunately, DHP has also not seen huge numbers of refund requests so far: “It’s not caused a problem but it is a worry because if you settle the show with the artist and then some of the refunds come in, you’ve got a problem.”

Buck says TEG MJR is being “lenient” when it comes to refunds but they are dealing with it on a case-by-case basis.

“We’re being a lot more liberal with refunds because we want people to buy in confidence when the market opens which is a slight double-edged sword,” he explains.

“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong… probably 20-25% up on forecast”

“Previously, if you had a sold-out show it was sold out. Now, it’s a lot more difficult to settle on the other side because you’ve got refunds post-event,” Buck concludes.

But while Covid continues to cause operational complexities, Buck says the increase in spend-per-head at concerts is “dramatically up” versus pre-Covid and ticket sales for new shows have soared.

“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong,” he says, “Probably 20-25% up on forecast.”

And with the threat of last-minute venue closures due to staff being ‘pinged’ (told to self-isolate by the NHS app) or contracting the disease, alongside similar worries with touring parties, many say recovery feels like a gradual process.

“We don’t know whether the shows are going to happen or not, whether the artist is going to be able to travel or they end up catching Covid,” says Lockwood.

“People assume it is all back to normal but everything is just much harder. It’s great to be back, don’t get me wrong, but the uncertainties have ramped up.”

 


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The New Bosses 2021: Dan Roberts, Live Nation

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Paradigm in the UK here.

Dan Roberts was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but brought up in Nottinghamshire in the UK. His introduction to live music began, aged 16, when Liars Club [in Manchester] owner Ricky Haley paid him to put up posters. From there Roberts moved to Leeds to study biology, while local entrepreneur Ash Kollakowski taught him how to rep shows and book local supports.

When he completed his studies, he found a job at DHP, where he learned to be a national promoter, and five years later he moved to Metropolis Music and the Live Nation family.


You studied biology – are there any parallels at all with your work, or did any of the disciplines learned at university help you?
Communicating concisely in writing and applying a functional, transactional mindset to the processes that go into building a show. You can’t teach taste though.

Having a US passport can be very useful in this business – have you been able to take advantage of that for your work, as yet?
I once went to the Hamptons with Matt Bates, which was very nice. Aside from that and a trip to NYC to see Partisan Records and Cigarettes After Sex team, I look forward to building my US network further as we return to full business.

You started working on shows while you were a student: do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Ricky Haley, Dan McEvoy, Ash Kollakowski, Dan Ealam, George Akins, Anton Lockwood, Raye Cosbert, Will Marshall, Bob Angus, Denis Desmond, Melvin Benn… What Denis, Raye and Bob can communicate with ten words would take most people a hundred.

Learning how to rep shows and book local support acts in Nottingham has obviously served you well. Does that experience help when it comes to choosing who to work with in cities around the UK?
A good network of reps is useful. As an industry, we’ve lost a lot of freelancers on the production side over this period which is a travesty.

“Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding”

What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding. Show-wise it would have to be The Strokes at the Roundhouse in February 2020, which I worked on with Bob. Implementing 100% digital ticketing with Ticketmaster was an operational win.

The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you are taking out of it?
This time has given me a chance to get closer to the teams at Metropolis, Live Nation, Festival Republic and Ticketmaster.

What are you most looking forward to as restrictions lift?
Fontaines D.C. playing A Lucid Dream to 10,250 people at Ally Pally. More specifically, the bit at the start where Grian goes “shew”. That on a big L-Acoustics or d&b rig at about 103db, with their wonderful team around me at FOH, that would be nice.

What’s the biggest challenge for you and your colleagues now that the business is emerging from lockdown restrictions?
Everyone is coming back to shows from different places and from different experiences during lockdown, so empathy is a must. Our communal mental health is very important as we return.

 


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FKP Scorpio UK poaches DHP’s Ealam and O’Neill

FKP Scorpio has hired veteran concert promoters Daniel Ealam and Scott O’Neill to head up and grow its nascent UK touring business.

The hiring of Ealam and O’Neill marks a renewed focus for Hamburg-headquartered FKP on its British operation, FKP Scorpio UK Ltd, which originally soft-launched in 2018. The pair will team up with FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans to “actively promote and build the UK arm of the business”, according to the company.

Both promoters join FKP Scorpio from DHP Family, the independent Nottingham-based concert, venue and festival outfit. Ealam had been at DHP since 2002, rising to become director of live in 2016, while O’Neill, who joined in 2010, was formerly senior promoter.

Both have promoted thousands of shows across the UK, from 80 to 80,000 capacity, notes FKP, and sold millions of tickets. Highlights for the pair include 18 stadia since 2015 and outdoor events at Cardiff Castle, Leeds Roundhay Park, Ipswich Chantry Park and Bristol Filton Airfield, with acts including Ed Sheeran, Massive Attack, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Adele, Mumford and Sons, Brian Wilson, Anne-Marie and the War on Drugs.

“We are so excited to build FKP Scorpio in the UK,” say the pair in a joint statement. “We have long admired the company’s ethos and ethics and truly believe that it is a force for good within the industry and expanding at a time when we need strong promoters with good values working across Europe.

“Folkert shares our vision for the business, and we have big plans to make this a huge success”

“Folkert shares our vision for the business and we have big plans to make this a huge success and support our artists, agents and managers and give fans the ultimate live experiences.”

Joining Ealam, O’Neill and Koopmans on the FKP Scorpio UK board are Barry Campbell and James Cassidy, the driving forces behind FKP UK’s Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II shows, which have been touring arenas in the UK and continental Europe since.

In addition to the UK and Germany, majority CTS Eventim-owned FKP Scorpio has offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Netherlands, Austria, Finland and, most recently, Belgium. The company is one of the biggest concert and festival promoters in continental Europe, with its flagship festivals, Hurricane and Southside, the fifth and sixth highest-grossing in the world, respectively.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Daniel and Scott, who have built up an excellent reputation and have excellent contacts,” says Koopmans. “We are convinced that with their support we will be able to significantly expand FKP Scorpio’s activities in the UK.”

 


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Indie promoters talk challenges, post-corona recovery

The latest IQ Focus virtual panel, The State of Independence: Promoters, checked in with independent concert promoters in the UK, Europe, India and South America to discover how these entrepreneurs are preparing for the live industry’s return to normality.

Hosted by agent Emma Banks (CAA), yesterday’s session welcomed British promoters Anton Lockwood (DHP Family) and David Messer (DMP), Munbir Chawla from India’s The Wild City, Melanie Eselevsky from Argentina’s Move Concerts and Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion’s Roman Pitone to discuss the current difficulties unique to their sector, as well as the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid-19 world .

Speaking about emerging concert formats such as drive-in shows, Pitone said Karsten Jahnke has done a number of drive-in events in Germany over the past few months. “Overall, they went well,” he said, but enthusiasm has declined over time as fans increasingly miss ‘real’ shows: “You could see when we started it that people were really eager to see shows [in some form] again, but it slowed down as time went on as people realised it’s just not the same.”

He added that the company is only breaking even on its drive-in and other socially distanced events. “With the income, we’re just paying for what we’re doing,” he explained. “This is just to keep doing something that is our passion and our livelihood, until we can do something [else]…”

In India, where live music is still invariably sponsored, brands have realised the coronavirus crisis isn’t going away and are spending less on live events, creating a headache for promoters, said Chawla. “The brands have realised they’re in it for the long haul, and cultural marketing spend is now being put back into marketing the products” directly, he commented.

“I want to remain independent. It’s not all and gloom”

“Unlike a lot of other scenes, the Indian scene is pretty reliant on brands. So, with the brands spending less money, that will also affect shows and the scale at which they can happen.”

Giving an overview of the situation in countries where Move Concerts operates, Eselevsky brought panellists up to date on the latest developments in Latin America, from the furlough scheme in Argentina to ticket vouchers in Brazil and drive-in concerts in Puerto Rico.

She also touched on the challenge of organising concerts in Argentina when the value of the local currency fluctuates so often: “Three years ago, the exchange rate was 18 pesos [to the US dollar],” she said. “Now it’s 75 pesos.”

Banks described her own experience of playing Argentina, relaying how one of her acts once oversold a show in Buenos Aires and still didn’t break even. “Try explaining that to the manager!” she said.

Turning to 2021, Messer said he’s “finding that because so many things have been moved into next year, things are fully booked” for late 2021 already. “So it’s very hard to know what you can book – the dates are going very quickly, but you can’t book the artists” because the situation around international touring is still so unclear.

“People are talking a lot more to each other … We’re all in the same place”

Lockwood said he can understood why many artists, especially American ones, could be reluctant to travel internationally well into next year, even if it’s a “depressing” thought. “Imagine the nightmare of being a US band,” he explained, “you get to the border of Spain and Portugal, and your bus driver gets a cough and you have to quarantine for 14 days. So, your whole tour’s just gone.

“Whereas, at least if you’re a US band and you tour the US, you won’t get caught in that.”

While the crisis has thrown into sharp relief the vulnerability of the independent sector, none of the panellists responded in the affirmative when Banks asked, tongue in cheek, if they wish they’d sold to Live Nation before coronavirus hit.

“It’s not all and gloom,” said Chawla, highlighting the quality of the music being released and the increasingly global nature of the industry as among the bright spots, while Messer praised how “people have come together” to mitigate the impact of the concert shutdown.

“People are talking a lot more to each other – people from different sides of the industry,” he said, in a sentiment echoed by Banks. “We’re all in the same place, and luckily everyone’s helping each other, which we have to do. We all need each other – we’re not going survive unless we can all exist.”

For more discussion and debate, including on ticket pricing, refunds and vouchers, ‘Swiss-cheese touring’ and much more, watch the session back on YouTube or Facebook now.

 


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Indie promoters in spotlight for next IQ Focus

Continuing the weekly series of IQ Focus virtual sessions, State of Independence: Promoters will see independent event organisers from across the globe come together to discuss the specific obstacles facing their business.

The tenth panel of the popular IQ Focus series, the session will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 16 July at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET.

Across the touring world, independent promoters are facing a similar challenge when looking ahead to a post Covid-19 business.

While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead?

CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?

Joining Banks are DHP Family’s Anton Lockwood, Karsten Janhke Konzertdirektion’s Ben Mitha, DMP UK’s David Messer, Melanie Eselevsky from Argentina’s Move Concerts and Munbir Chawla from the Wild City in India.

All previous IQ Focus sessions, which have looked at topics including the challenges facing festivals, diversity in live, management under lockdown, the agency business, large-scale venues and innovation in live music, can be watched back here.

To set a reminder about State of Independence: Promoters session on Thursday head to the IQ Magazine page on Facebook or YouTube.

 


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DHP Family unveils new London venue

UK-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family is launching the Grace, a new late night music venue in Islington, north London.

The 150-capacity venue is the latest addition to the DHP Family portfolio, which includes London venues the Garage (600-capacity) and Oslo (375-capacity), as well as award-winning boat venue Thekla (400-cap.) in Bristol.

Opening today (Friday 13 September) with music by DJs from Soho record store Sister Ray Records, upcoming shows at the venue include country singer Lauren Jenkins, Manchester bands Ist Ist Ist and the Covasettes and neo-soul singer Ben Brown.

Housed in what originally opened as Upstairs at the Garage, the space has already hosted acts including Jeff Buckley, the Killers, Sheryl Crow, Mogwai and Grimes.

“Here at the Grace, we had the perfect opportunity to combine our bar and live music space”

“London is well known for its live music pubs which are institutions in their own right,” comments DHP Family owner George Akins.

“Here at the Grace, we had the perfect opportunity to combine our bar and live music space to create an atmospheric space that can function equally well for after-work drinks or post-gig partying.”

The Grace will open from 5 p.m. each day, closing at 2 a.m. Monday to Thursday and at 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The venue will not open on Sundays.

The venue is situated opposite Highbury and Islington tube station. More information can be found here.

In addition to its venue portfolio, Nottingham-based DHP Family runs the 25,000-capacity Splendour festival in Nottingham and multi-venue festival Dot to Dot in several cities. DHP also puts on 1,500 gigs per year, promoting tours by Ed Sheeran, the War on Drugs, Enter Shikari and more.

 


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Sheeran wraps up Divide tour with hometown return

Ending where it all began, Ed Sheeran is performing the final concerts of his record-breaking ÷ (Divide) tour in his hometown of Ipswich, UK.

After spending 893 days on the road, performing at 166 venues in 43 countries and breaking attendance records in Iceland, Finland and South Africa, the end of Sheeran’s Divide tour – the highest grossing concert tour ever – is finally in sight.

Sheeran is closing the tour with four homecoming gigs at a specially erected 40,000-capacity arena in Chantry Park, Ipswich, from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August. The shows follow two UK tour dates in Roundhay Park, Leeds, last weekend.

After spending 893 days on the road, performing at 166 venues in 43 countries and breaking attendance records in Iceland, Finland and South Africa, the end of Sheeran’s Divide tour is in sight

According to local paper, Ipswich Star, fans have been queuing from as early as 5 a.m. to secure the best spot at today’s (23 August) show.

Fellow Suffolk-hailing act the Darkness will support Sheeran at all four shows, with Passenger warming up crowds on Friday and Saturday and Lewis Capaldi kicking things off on the other two nights.

Sheeran’s team includes his manager, Stuart Camp, agents Jon Ollier (CAA) and Marty Diamond (Paradigm), tour manager Mark Friend and a roster of promoters that includes FKP Scorpio in Germany, AEG Presents, DHP Family and Kilimanjaro Live in the UK, Frontier Touring down under and Messina Touring Group in North America.

Tickets for the concerts are priced at £82.50, with only tickets for the Monday evening show remaining at press time.

 


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London venue the Borderline closes after 30 years

London venue Borderline has announced it will close its doors this summer, after more than 30 years hosting acts including Debbie Harry, Blur, Muse, Amy Winehouse and the 1975.

Promoter and venue operator DHP Family, who bought the Borderline from Mama in 2016, has made the decision to close the 300-capacity venue by August 31 in the face of “ever increasing rents, rising business rates and ongoing redevelopment plans for Soho”.

According to music charity the Music Venue Trust (MVT), 35% of UK grassroots music venues have closed in the last decade. A 4% rise in business rates –the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – has caused further problems for music venues, which are not eligible for the tax rebates applicable to other small businesses. Escalating London rents have also impacted many venues.

“This has been a difficult decision, but given intentions by the landlord to increase the rent significantly for a second time since we took it over in 2016 as well as plans to redevelop the building housing the Borderline, we now know the venue doesn’t have a long term future so it makes no sense for us to continue to invest,” says DHP Family managing director George Akins.

“This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues”

“We’ve had an amazing two years at Borderline with some fantastic shows and want to thank everyone for their support from agents, promoters and artists to all the thousands who have come to the gigs and club nights.

“We’ve put our all into trying to revive this iconic venue but unfortunately, it has been impossible to turn into a sustainable operation due to so many external factors. This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues,” adds Akins.

DHP has retained the Borderline names and will consider opportunities to relocate the venue.

Akins says that DHP is “still committed to creating and running the best grassroots music venues in the country.” The company plans to reinvest in other parts of its portfolio, setting aside £1 million for work on Bristol’s Thekla, preparing for the 40th anniversary of Rock City in Nottingham and working on the opening of its first venue in Birmingham.

The announcement comes in the midst of a spate of good news for UK grassroots venues, as fellow DHP-owned London venue, the Garage, last week won protection from the local council which has pledged to safeguard the venue in case of area redevelopment and MVT recently announced £1.5 million in funding to protect and improve grassroots music venues, as well as support from industry-led initiatives.

 


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