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No substitute for live music at Women’s World Cup

Live music has been a key player in the Women’s World Cup football tournament, with concerts from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best-known artists.

The latest addition to the competition’s musical offering is Australian hitmaker Tones and I, who will deliver an on-the-pitch performance at the closing ceremony in the 83,500-capacity Stadium Australia this Sunday (20 August).

The Victoria-born singer-songwriter will perform her latest track, The Greatest, which was released in partnership with Football Australia.

“In an era where music and sport are essential elements of our cultural fabric, this partnership represents an exciting convergence of two artistic powerhouses,” reads a press release from Football Australia.

Tones and I dubbed the performance “a dream come true,” adding: “Music has the power to bring people together, and football does the same.”

“In an era where music and sport are essential elements of our cultural fabric, this partnership represents an exciting convergence of two artistic powerhouses”

Sunday’s closing ceremony will mark the 22-year-old’s second live performance as part of the tournament after she performed with American rapper BIA and French-Senegalese singer Diarra Syllaz at the FIFA Fan Festival in Sydney during half-time of the semi-final match between Spain and Sweden yesterday (16 August).

Sydney’s FIFA Fan Festival has also seen live performances from two-time Grammy Award-winning artist Kimbra (NZ) indie band San Cisco (AU) and pop artist and Twitch streamer Montaigne (AU).

The free-to-enter fan festivals have taken place across all nine host cities in Australia and New Zealand between 20 July–20 August 2023, drawing well over 500,000 fans.

Other artists that have performed at the FIFA Fan Festivals include Rei, Chaii, Cassie Henderson, Seon & Tim Atkinson, Kaylee Bell, Coterie, Seon, Te Whare Karioi, Kapa Haka, Hollie Smith, Ella Monnery and Kaylee Bell.


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AO Arena to show World Cup clash ahead of concert

Manchester’s AO Arena is to screen England’s World Cup quarter-final clash with France live prior to Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott’s concert at the venue tomorrow evening (10 December).

Support act Billy Bragg has agreed to perform earlier than planned at 6.15pm GMT to enable the match to be shown on the 21,000-cap arena’s big screens from 7pm. Heaton & Abbott will then take to the stage for their headline set at 9pm.

“Following some lengthy thought and discussion, we have decided that we will now be showing the England v France match on the screens at AO Arena Manchester,” says a statement on the venue’s website.

“We are mindful that there will be people that won’t be keen on watching the match (we did, unsuccessfully, look at alternative entertainment within the arena itself) and also worried about transport home, but we assure you that Paul & Jacqui will still take to the stage by 9pm, meaning the show will finish around 10:40/45pm.

“With the right result this could be a great night!”

“This does mean we won’t be showing any extra time if that occurs, but if it does Paul and Jacqui will be very keen to keep you updated from the stage. With the right result this could be a great night!”

London’s The O2 previously streamed England’s 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat against Croatia before a Justin Timberlake concert, while BST Hyde Park showed the game to 30,000 attendees on the Great Oak Stage, preceded by a performance by the Lightning Seeds.

Heaton, a renowned football supporter, and Abbott have capped tickets for their current UK arena tour at just £30 in a bid to help fans weather the cost of living crisis.

“I’m against greed in the industry,” Heaton told BBC Breakfast. “It’s incredibly important that through the coming months and possibly years, that we tell the fans that we’re getting paid enough and we want to keep it low for you.”


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MDLBeast to stage World Cup concert series Aravia

Saudi music entertainment company MDLBeast has unveiled details of its new concert series Aravia, which will bring dozens of superstar DJs to Qatar during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The line-up, which will be revealed in the coming days, will comprise 56 dance acts, who will perform on the purpose-built Al Rihla stage in Doha.

MDLBeast, which promotes the Soundstorm festival and XP Music Futures conference in Riyadh, says performances will start at the end of each match of the international football tournament from 21 November to 18 December.

“The launch of Aravia is a huge milestone moment for MDLBeast and for the wider region”

“The launch of Aravia is a huge milestone moment for MDLBeast and for the wider region,” says MDLBeast CEO Ramadan Alharatani. “We are known for putting on legendary live music and entertainment events thanks to the runaway success of Soundstorm, and to have 28 nights of AAA DJs and music in Qatar this year is an exciting prospect.

“We look forward to bringing the best of dance music to football fans from all over the world.”

The news comes days after FIFA announced it is to stage free concerts starring “top global and local music acts” as part of a reimagined Fan Festival at the World Cup. The festival will be held at one central location at Al Bidda Park in Doha.


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Atomic Kitten, ‘Three Lions’ trio reform amid Euros fever

After England made history by qualifying for the final of the Euro 2020 football championship, the team’s first finals appearance in a major international tournament since 1966, a number of musical acts are hoping to capitalise on their success as the event nears its end.

The Lightning Seeds, whose song ‘Three Lions’, with comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, hit number one in 1996 and 1998, will reunite with Baddiel and Skinner for a performance of the song on Channel 4’s The Last Leg tonight (9 July) ahead of a rumoured pre-match show at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie tells I he wanted to “find an occasion” to perform the song before the match, which sees Italy face England at home, but a hoped-for pre-match rendition on the Wembley Stadium pitch is “out of my control”, he says. “We haven’t been invited to yet.”

While it unlikely any performance of ‘Three Lions’ would be allowed at the stadium before kick-off, the trio could potentially team up again at an unofficial event or post-match celebrations (should England win), I reports.


The Lightning Seeds continue their SJM-promoted Jollification tour, marking the 25th anniversary of the seminal 1994 album, in September with rescheduled dates in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester.

Elsewhere, early-2000s girl group Atomic Kitten have reunited to re-work their 2001 no 1 ‘Whole Again’ as a tribute to England manager Gareth Southgate.

The release of ‘Southgate You’re the One (Football’s Coming Home Again)’ comes as the band prepares for a handful of summer festival dates, including We Love 90s in Darlington (27 August), Mighty Hoopla in south London (4 September) and Biggest 90s Disco in Dublin (23 October).

“‘Southgate You’re the One’ is totally inspired by the England football fans in support of Gareth Southgate and the super-talented England football team,” say the trio in a statement. “We will be singing loud and proud: ‘Football’s Coming Home’.”

Euro 2020 kicked off on 11 June with a livestreamed show by the Edge (of U2) and DJ Martin Garrix, who performed tournament anthem ‘We Are the People’ inside a virtually rendered stadium. U2 frontman Bono, meanwhile, who sings lead on the track, performed his parts as a holographic head.

Other notable Euro 2020 music moments included a record-breaking TikTok event featuring Ed Sheeran, who played to 5.5m people from Ipswich Town’s Portman Road stadium as part of a partnership between TikTok and tournament organiser Uefa.


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Ed Sheeran smashes TikTok livestreaming record

Ed Sheeran has set a new record for the most-watched live music performance on the viral short-form video app TikTok.

The record-breaking live stream took place last Friday (25 June) at Sheeran’s home football ground of Portman Road, Ipswich Town, UK, as part of TikTok’s partnership with UEFA (The Union of European Football Associations) during the Euro 2020 tournament.

More than 5.5 million unique viewers tuned in to the singer’s hour-long TikTok live stream (dubbed the TikTok UEFA EURO 2020 Show) and the two replays the following day.

According to the platform, the show was the biggest-ever live music performance on TikTok, surpassing the 4 million people who tuned in for Justin Bieber’s Valentine’s Day TikTok live stream in February.

“The bar for what is possible within the livestreaming format has been creatively raised”

The spectator-free show, directed by Emil Nava and Hamish Hamilton, incorporated special effects, augmented reality and prominent TikTok stars. It also marked the live premiere of Sheeran’s new single ‘Bad Habits’.

“The TikTok UEFA 2020 Show was an incredible moment for our community around the world and a turning point for live music streaming,” says Paul Hourican, head of music operations UK TikTok. “The bar for what is possible within the livestreaming format has been creatively raised and it has been shown how big and ambitious TikTok can be for artists.”

Ed Howard, co-president of Sheeran’s record label, Atlantic Records, added: “For Ed, Grumpy Old Management and Atlantic, uniting and reaching their global fan base was imperative for the launch of their new campaign, as well as our close partnership with Paul and the entire TikTok team enabled us to achieve this goal in a uniquely creative way.”


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Fieldlab vouches for 50-75% cap outdoor events

Fieldlab Events, the initiative behind a swathe of test shows in the Netherlands, has told the Dutch government that outdoor events should be allowed to take place at 50-75% of normal visitor capacity without social distancing, under certain measures.

The recommendations are based on the results of Fieldlab’s first outdoor tests, which comprised two football matches with 1,500 spectators each and one with 5,000 spectators.

Research was conducted using Fieldlab’s risk model which is aimed at limiting the residual risk that arises from events and considers factors including visitor behaviour, track and trace, rapid tests, occupancy and social distancing.

Research at three football matches showed that larger outdoor events are possible under the following strict conditions in the current Corona situation:

The cabinet is now consulting with the Outbreak Management Team on the research results

The cabinet is now consulting with the Outbreak Management Team on the research results.

Earlier this month, Fieldlab shared findings from the first part of its Back to Live test series, which involved a business conference and a cabaret show.

The Dutch initiative found that indoor seated events should be able to take place at 50% occupancy without social distancing. See more here.


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Tap Management launches sports venture

Artist management company Tap Music has launched Tap Sports, a new business offering athlete management and branding and entertainment services to the sports industry.

Established by Ben Mawson, co-founder of Tap, whose music roster includes the likes of Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding and Dermot Kennedy, Tap Sports will focus on two main activities: offering consultancy and creative marketing services for sports clubs and sports entities, and brand and commercial management for athletes.

Initial Tap Sports clients include English football club Leeds United and Leeds/England player Kalvin Phillips, while Del Rey will record ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ for an upcoming documentary on Liverpool FC’s title-winning 2020 season.

Leading the new company is managing director Zoe Prothero, formerly of Coca-Cola (where she worked with Fifa and Uefa), Fuse (FA Premier League) and Formula E, with Carl Fysh, Lottie Lander and Thom Denson handling publicity.

“I am excited to launch Tap Sports with an incredible team alongside me, who all lead their respective industries,” comments Mawson.

“There is much synergy between entertainment and sports and an often-missed opportunity to grow audiences”

“We hold the belief that there is much synergy between entertainment and sports and an often-missed opportunity to grow audiences worldwide. We want to work closely with the best agents and best players and help them build their profile and commercial value.

“We will work strategically on the brand endorsement side, rather than just transactionally, and help players become cultural icons, building brands with a reach far beyond the pitch. I’m especially excited to be working with Kalvin Phillips, an incredible player at such an exciting time in his career.”

Angus Kinnear, chief executive of Leeds United FC, adds: “Following our promotion to the Premier League we have many new and exciting opportunities to engage and grow our fanbase across the UK and internationally. We look forward to working with the team at Tap to help us deliver against these off-field ambitions.”

In addition to Tap Management and Tap Sports, Tap Music comprises a record label, digital and publishing divisions, and a specialist electronic business, launched last year.

Other music companies with sporting divisions include CAA (CAA Sports), Endeavor (IMG), Paradigm Talent Agency and Crockford Management (Coda Independent Sports) and UTA (Klutch/UTA Sports).


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Venues open doors as demand for hospital beds grows

As demand for hospital beds increases across the world, arenas, stadia and conference centres shuttered by the coronavirus are being repurposed for temporary medical use.

Venue operators in countries including Spain (which has over 33,000 cases at press time), the UK (5,683 cases), Croatia (315 cases), the US (33,404 cases) and Brazil (1,629 cases) are handing over their properties to health authorities to be turned into field hospitals for patients with Covid-19.

In Madrid, Ifema, the 2.9 million m² (31.2m sqft) conference and exhibition centre, has become the largest ‘hospital’ in Spain, welcoming its first 126 patients yesterday and another 90 today (23 March).

Working alongside Spain’s Military Emergencies Unit (UME), the government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid, installed 300 hospital beds in Ifema the space of 48 hours, with another 1,300 beds expected to be operational by Wednesday.

Though the Ifema hospital is meant for patients with mild symptoms, the venue is also equipped with 96 ICU (intensive care unit) posts, reports El Mundo, with the hospital site covering a total of 35,000m² (376,740sqft).

Authorities credit fangcang with a crucial role in bringing the outbreak in Wuhan under control

Ifema’s transformation is modelled on that of venues in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic originally began late last year.

Wuhan’s 16 fangcang, or shelter hospitals, have been operational since early February, and include hotels, conference centres, arenas, sports stadia and other public venues in the city. According to the Wuhan municipal government, the number of beds in the city, which has a population of more than 11m, reached 30,000 later that month.

Over half of the fangcang beds are now empty, with authorities crediting the shelter hospitals with a crucial role in bringing the outbreak in Wuhan under control.

In Croatia, meanwhile, the 22,000-capacity Arena Zagreb is similarly being transformed into a field hospital with beds for coronavirus patients to free up space in local hospitals, as many of Brazil’s top football teams hand over their stadia while the Série A season is suspended.

Current South American champions Flamengo, who play in red and black, are among the teams giving control of their stadium (in Flamengo’s case, the famous 78,838-seat Maracanã) to health authorities.

“Let us help those who need it most”

“In this grim moment, I wanted to invite our great red and black nation to renew hope and work for better days,” club president Rodolfo Landim explains in an email to Flamengo supporters. “Let us take care of our elderly and help those who need it most.”

New York’s 1.8m sqft (170,000m²) Javits Convention Center, one of the biggest event spaces in the US, is also being turned into a 1,000-bed hospital, with construction due to begin this week – as is the ExCeL Centre in east London, with Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) reportedly planning a 4,000-bed field hospital to cope with the peak of the pandemic in the UK.

Elsewhere in the UK, Welsh rugby club Scarlets says its 14,870-seat stadium, Scarlets Park (Parc y Scarlets), will become a 500-bed hospital, with nearby leisure centres also being used by NHS workers.

“Community has always been a huge part of what the Scarlets is about, and in unprecedented times like these communities stick together,” says Scarlets GM Jon Daniels. “The health service and workers are doing an incredible job in challenging circumstances and we are happy to be offering help and support in any way we can.”


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Blink Identity wins Manchester City FC pilot

Blink Identity is to deploy its facial-recognition technology in a pilot programme for Manchester City FC, after winning the recent City Startup Challenge in Manchester, UK.

The five-day competition, organised by City Football Group, the Abu Dhabi-based holding company that owns the English Premier League champions, saw Texas-based Blink impress club bosses with its biometric security solution, which can identify people’s faces at full walking speed.

Over the coming weeks, Blink Identity will work with City Football Group on their VIP and Academy access solutions, in order to improve “both the overall experience and guest security”, says the company.

“We’re thrilled to have been chosen to work with the City Football Group, integrating our facial-recognition-at-walking-speed solution into their elite programming,” comments Mary Haskett, CEO and co-founder of Blink Identity.

“Our state-of-the-art biometric technology … will improve dwell times, overall and specific security issues”

“Our state-of-the-art biometric technology has high throughput rates and accuracy, which, combined with our ‘privacy first’ policy, will improve dwell times, overall and specific security issues, and also back and front of the house operations for this prestigious organisation.”

Blink Identity last year summer received US$1.5 million in seed funding from Sinai Ventures and Live Nation, with the latter’s CEO, Michael Rapino, describing how Blink’s tech could be used to “associate your digital ticket with your image”.

The technology made its public debut at the KNOW 2019 conference in Las Vegas in March, with guests entering the event by simply walking past Blink’s sensor.


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World Cup: Live makes way for football fever

A host of live events in the UK, including major concerts and comedy shows, are being pushed back or altered to accomodate tonight’s Fifa World Cup semifinal, which sees England do battle with Croatia to determine France’s opponents in Sunday’s final.

The last time England were in the semis was 1990, and with the country in the throes of World Cup fever – the Lightning Seeds’ Euro 96 classic ‘Three Lions’ is on course for this week’s no1 single – concert promoters and venues are reluctant to go up against the once-in-a-generation fixture. (Emily Sandé discovered this the hard way when England played Colombia in the knock-out stages during her show on 3 July, and, “halfway through [the] piano ballad ‘Clown’, the most delicate song in her setlist, a raucous cheer broke out from the crowd” after Eric Dier’s penalty kick put England through to the quarter finals.)

Both Justin Timberlake, who is playing the O2, and Niles Rogers and Chic, who are performing at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, will screen the 7pm match before their shows, with Chic promoter Cuffe & Taylor electing to bump Sister Sledge off the bill in favour of the Three Lions.

“We fully understand that when it comes to England reaching the semifinals of the World Cup, people feel torn if they have other plans,” says Cuffe & Taylor director Peter Taylor. “Therefore, we’ve decided it is only right to show the big game on our stage screens so everyone who is attending the Nile Rodgers and Chic show can still see England perform, too.”

Girl group All Saints, who are playing Electric Brixton (1,500-cap.) in London, will now take to the stage at the later time of 9.30pm. “The people have spoken and we have listened,” reads a statement from the venue. “We’ll now be showing [the] World Cup semifinal match on a huge screen before our All Saints Show.”

Comedians Jason Manford and Chris Ramsey, meanwhile, have axed stand-up gigs in Stevenage and Ulverston, respectively, with Manford tweeting that he’s “bow[ing] under the weight of an expectant and hopeful nation”. Both shows will be rescheduled for a later date.

One event that won’t be showing the football is DEAG/Kilimanjaro Live’s Kew the Music, which continues in Kew Gardens, west London, tonight. A Kew Gardens spokesperson says while it won’t be showing the football ahead of this evening’s Gipsy Kings show, which kicks off at 8.45pm, it will be displaying the scores around the concert site.

AEG’s British Summer Time – halfway through its free-to-access midweek programme, ahead of another weekend of music from Paul Simon, Michael Bublé and Bruno Mars – will screen the game in Hyde Park tonight, after handing out 30,000 free tickets in a ballot yesterday afternoon.

As for the songs that will be played at Luzhniki Stadium for the match itself, Queen’s sporting anthem ‘We Will Rock You’ joins Imagine Dragons’ ‘Thunder’ and two K-pop hits, BTS’s ‘Fake Love’ and EXO’s ‘Power’, as the soundtrack for the evening. The songs emerged as the top four choice in a poll organised by Fifa, which saw around five million people vote on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Looking ahead to the weekend, and Sunday 15 July’s France vs England/Croatia final, several live music events have similarly confirmed their intention to screen the game. According to the NME, Latitude, Citdel and Lovebox in the UK will be showing the final (with Paul Simon-headlined BST expected to follow), as well as Dour Festival in Belgium.

In France, meanwhile – the one nation confirmed to be in Sunday’s match – even hip-hop royalty are making way for the World Cup. Beyoncé and Jay-Z will play to a jubilant/despondent crowd at the Stade de France on Sunday night, following a screening of the game prior to the show.

“Twenty years after the French team’s first World Cup win, Beyoncé and Jay-Z invite those who have a ticket for their concert to present themselves at the Stade de France at 4pm in order to be able to enjoy, on the stadium’s big screens, […] the Blues’ final victory,” reads a statement from Live Nation France.


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