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The Chemical Brothers: ‘Touring in US not viable’

The Chemical Brothers are the latest act to dismiss touring in the US, as the country’s authorities consider raising touring visa fees for foreign acts by more than 250%.

In an interview with Billboard, the English electronic music duo revealed that they aren’t planning any US shows in support of their new album due to ballooning costs.

“The costs have gone up so much. It’s just not really viable at the moment,” said the duo’s Ed Simons. “I’m apologetic to the people who do want to see us that it is increasingly difficult for us to get to America because we have had the times of our lives playing there.”

The pair also commented on the state of touring post-pandemic and how they attempted to lower the costs of their live touring production to make touring the US more affordable.

“[The production] originally came from the fact that we didn’t want to inflict [audiences with] just the two of us awkwardly standing with the synthesisers,” Simons said.

“So we wanted a big back job, but it’s just grown and grown, and now we’ve got these 40-foot clowns voicing the words.”

The increasing costs of touring the US are not helped by a planned increase in the cost of paperwork to get there.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was planning to raise touring visa fees for foreign acts by more than 250%.

The current petition fee would rocket from $460 to $1,655 (a 260% increase) for a regularly processed ‘O’ work visa and soar to $1,615 (251%) for a regularly processed ‘P’ visa – putting 50% of all UK tours of the US under threat according to data from trade body LIVE.

However, DHS and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have now reportedly agreed to delay the implementation of the rise until at least March 2024 and are considering a lower increase.

Regardless, the costs of touring have still prevented several big-name artists from being able to play shows in the US in recent months.

“The costs have gone up so much. It’s just not really viable at the moment”

Last year, English rapper Little Simz cancelled a run of 10 North American tour dates due to the “huge deficit” it would leave her in financially. Santigold also cancelled a tour of the territory, citing “skyrocket[ing]” price of “gas, tour buses, hotels, and flight[s]”.

English electronic group Metronomy, who also pulled the plug on their North America tour, said “Touring America is one of the most expensive and exhausting things a band can do”.

Earlier this year, Easy Life axed their North American tour dates due to “some insane costs,” adding that “the world seems to cost 10x as much as it used to right now”.

The Who frontman Roger Daltrey has also reckoned it unlikely that his band would be able to tour America again.

“We cannot get insured and most of the big bands doing arena shows, by the time they do their first show and rehearsals and get the staging and crew together, all the buses and hotels, you’re upwards $600,000 to a million in the hole,” he said back in April.

“To earn that back, if you’re doing a 12-show run, you don’t start to earn it back until the seventh or eighth show. That’s just how the business works. The trouble now is if you get COVID after the first show, you’ve [lost] that money.”

Placebo, meanwhile, postponed their entire North American tour, last September, just two days before it was due to begin, citing “visa and logistical issues”.

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) stepped up their #LetTheMusicMove campaign earlier this year in order to oppose changes to US visa applications.

#LetTheMusicMove was originally established in June 2021 to campaign for reductions in post-Brexit costs and red tape for UK artists and musicians when touring in Europe, but extended its focus following the announcement by the DHS.


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Metronomy, Stormzy latest acts to call off tours

Tour cancellations are mounting, with Metronomy and Stormzy becoming the latest artists to scrap plans.

In the last couple of months, Santigold, Arlo ParksShawn MendesSam Fender, Russ, Wet Leg and Disclosure have all cancelled dates due to mental health concerns, while Placebo, alt-J, Pale Waves and Anthrax have scrapped appearances due to “logistical issues”.

Yesterday (29 September) English electronic group Metronomy followed suit, pulling the plug on their upcoming tour of North America.

“Touring America is one of the most expensive and exhausting things a band can do,” wrote the band in a post on Instagram.

“When you’re a young band, that time spent touring the states is the only way that you would want to spend it. But, when you’re a little older and a little wiser, you start weighing up the time you spend on the road against the time you spend with loved ones at home,” it continued.

“Right now, it doesn’t make sense for us to come I’m afraid. We’ve had an incredibly busy year of gigs and festivals and now need to afford some of the same time and attention to our home lives.”

The tour was due to kick off this October but the majority of shows have now been postponed until May 2023. The band will still play their Los Angeles show at The Wiltern on 27 October and at the Pepsi Centre in Mexico City two days later as planned.



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A post shared by Metronomy (@metronomy)


Meanwhile, Stormzy has called time on his Australia and New Zealand tour due to “circumstances beyond my control”.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to inform you guys that due to circumstances beyond my control, I must cancel international commitments for the remainder of the year which includes my Australian and New Zealand tour,” a statement from the rapper reads.

“You guys have waited so patiently and I am so sorry that this has to happen after all these ups and downs. I love you guys and I promise I will be back as soon as I can with a show that’s bigger and better than ever.”

Stormzy was set to perform at Spilt Milk festival as well as headline shows at HBF Stadium in Perth, two nights at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Riverstage in Brisbane, John Cain Arena in Melbourne and AEC Theatre in Adelaide.

The shows were originally scheduled for 2020 before being halted by the pandemic. Many fans have waited close to three years for the shows after buying tickets. It was set to be Stormzy’s first appearance in Australia in five years.


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