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Promoter Giles Cooper talks Heritage Live series

Promoter Giles Cooper has spoken to IQ about his company’s Heritage Live UK outdoor concert series, which kicked off its latest run last weekend.

Giles Cooper Entertainment (GCE) has partnered with English Heritage on the shows since 2017, bringing outdoor concerts back to London’s Kenwood House the following summer after an absence of five years. The Hampstead Heath venue hosted gigs almost continuously since 1951, but in 2014 previous promoter Rouge Events pulled out of a deal after suffering poor ticket sales the year before.

Launching its 2022 line-up a week ago with 15,000-cap headline shows by James, Rag’n’Bone Man and David Rodigan’s Outlook Orchestra, Heritage Live continues tonight with a Culture Club, Bananarama and Lulu triple bill, followed by Nile Rodgers + Chic, Billy Ocean and Norman Jay MBE (18 June) and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Jake Bugg and Confidence Man (19 June).

“Heritage Live is a brand we created in 2017, so we’ve been running the series every year since then, obviously bar the pandemic,” says Cooper. “Our USP, if you like, is that we specialise in staging concerts in unique locations. It noticeably attracts people that don’t normally go to concerts – there is a distinctly local demographic mixed in with the hardcore fans.”

Other 2022 headliners include Tom Jones, Simple Minds Russell Watson, Elbow and The Bootleg Beatles

Originally taking place across two weekends in June, this year’s programme comprises more than 15 events up to mid-August and also includes shows at Ardingly Showground (cap. 20,000) in West Sussex, Englefield House (10,000) in Pangbourne, Berkshire and Audley End in Saffron Walden, Essex (12,000).

The opening night, topped by James and The Charlatans, got off to a slightly sticky start when logistical issues caused a delay to proceedings, meaning the first support band did not have time to perform. But things have since returned to a more even keel.

“That was a great shame, but health and safety is paramount,” said Cooper. “But the rest of the show happened and it was fantastic – James and The Charlatans were absolutely superb. And then the Saturday and Sunday were absolutely brilliant. I haven’t got the final figures yet, but it looked pretty full to me and it was a beautiful sunny day with an absolutely brilliant vibe.”

Other headline acts in the coming weeks include Russell Watson with the Royal Philharmonic & the NHS Choir, Simple Minds, Elbow, The Bootleg Beatles and Tom Jones, who wraps up the series at Audley End on 14 August. Some of the shows are new promotions, while others were originally scheduled for 2020/21, pre-pandemic.

“A lot of promoters will be glad to have delivered shows that we’ve had on sale for two to three years”

“I think a lot of promoters, definitely me included, will be glad to have delivered shows that we’ve had on sale for two to three years,” concedes Cooper. “With the rescheduled shows, it’s very difficult to get the enthusiasm going amongst the public to buy tickets because, when you put a show on sale, it’s all about the hype of that week before – the marketing gives the impression that you better buy your ticket quickly or they’ll sell out.

“The problem with rescheduled shows if that you can’t regenerate that hype again, so we’ve all found it difficult to sell any decent numbers on them. And in fact, in some cases, are lower than we had before they rescheduled because, of course, the public are entitled to a refund if they can’t make the new date. So they have been a bit of a chain around our neck a bit, I have to admit, but they’re balanced with the new shows, which are doing very well.

“Tom Jones has done over 10,000 tickets in a couple of weeks and Elbow’s doing very well, so the shows we’ve announced since January/February onwards have done great. It’s a very peculiar market we’re in at the moment: some things are doing not very well at all. But others, if you’ve got it right, are doing really well.”

As part of Heritage Live, GCE is also promoting Flackstock – a fundraiser for mental health charities – at Englefield House on 25 July, staged in honour of the late British television presenter Caroline Flack. Featuring live music, dance and comedy, artists set to appear include Professor Green, Fleur East, Pixie Lott, Louise Redknapp and Natalie Imbruglia.

 


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Thousands enjoy Heritage Concert series at Kenwood House

Once home to members of the English aristocracy, for the last two weekends Kenwood House has played host to thousands of concertgoers and a host of performing talent. The concerts mark the first musical performances at the former stately home since 2013.

Ending this five year absence were performances from acts including Haçienda Classical, Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins. In a break from previous years, 2018’s 10,000-capacity arena was positioned so that the historic building overlooked guests, making for an impressive setting. As well as music, crowds were treated to a number of artisan street food stalls as well as a selection of hampers and wines.

Kenwood House has a well-established history of live music events, pre-dating festivals like Glastonbury by some 20 years, but after poor ticket sales in 2013, former promoter Rouge Events pulled out of further concerts. In November last year, Giles Cooper Entertainment (GCE) announced it would be seeing in the return of music to the venue after the five year absence.

“Kenwood is not the easiest of sites to stage concerts, particularly in this era of heightened security”

2013 presented different challenges for concerts at Kenwood House and organisers noted that approaches had to be changed to fit into the live music landscape of 2018. Promoter Giles Cooper of GCE comments on this: “Kenwood is not the easiest of sites to stage concerts, particularly in this era of heightened security.

“Our decision to not allow food or drink to be brought into the arena was not the most popular, but was a decision taken as a direct result of the threat level in the UK still being rated as ‘severe’, and unfortunately a necessity in this uncertain and sometimes dangerous world that we live in today.”

Since last year, GCE has also worked to bring music to two other English Heritage sites: Wrest Park in Bedfordshire and Audley End in Essex, and are already planning for 2019 at Kenwood House.

 


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Concerts return to Kenwood House after five years

Outdoor concerts will return to London’s Kenwood House next summer, after an absence of five years.

English Heritage and promoter Giles Cooper Entertainment (GCE) say the Heritage Live Concert Series will take place across two weekends in June, with capacities of 10,000 each day. Acts announced so far are Kris Kristofferson on June 22 and Movie Themes by John Williams with The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra the next day. Further artists will be announced in the coming weeks.

The venue in Hampstead hosted concerts almost continuously since 1951, but in 2014 previous promoter Rouge Events pulled out of a deal after suffering poor ticket sales the year before.

People have been asking us for ages when the concerts would return

Sam Cooper, English Heritage’s general manager at Kenwood, said: “We are thrilled to be bringing back the summer concerts to Kenwood. People have been asking us for ages when the concerts would return and while at this stage it’s for one year only, we’re hopeful that this will become an annual event.”

Promoter of the concerts GCE is also organising concerts at two other English Heritage properties: Wrest Park in Bedfordshire (cap. 10,000) and Audley End (10,000) in Essex.

 


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