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Covid puts the brakes on big US recovery

A swathe of concerts, festivals and tours in the US have been cancelled or postponed in the last week amid concerns over the spread of the delta variant of Covid-19.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was officially cancelled on Sunday 8 August “as a result of the current exponential growth of new Covid cases in New Orleans and the region and the ongoing public health emergency”.

The AEG festival, which would’ve taken place between 8–17 October 2021, typically attracts around 500,000 attendees across the seven days.

The 2021 edition was rescheduled in January to October, from its traditional spring dates of 22 April – 2 May. The festival’s lineup included Dead & Company, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Buffett, Lizzo, Demi Lovato and more.

Artists including Michael Bublé, Limp Bizkit, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings have exercised similar caution, postponing or cancelling late summer and early august 2021 dates due to uncertainty surrounding Covid.

“I do not want to put my fans, band or crew at risk by putting them in a situation that could possibly affect their health”

Last week, Michael Bublé announced the postponement of a string of August shows in the US, citing the current surge in new Covid-19 cases in the country – which are at the highest rate since early February, according to a New York Times database.

The August shows have now been rescheduled to take place in the second half of October. For now, Bublé’s September shows in the US are still going ahead as planned.

“I do not want to put my fans at risk, nor my band and crew, by putting them in a situation that could possibly affect their health and therefore their friends and family. It is better for me to reschedule these shows to a time when all of us are confident that we can relax and enjoy the show,” he said in a press statement.

Rock band Limp Bizkit has also announced the cancellation of their remaining August tour dates, citing concern over the rising tide of Covid-19 infections.

“Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the band, crew and most of all the fans, the Limp Bizkit August tour is being cancelled. Refunds are available from your point of purchase,” a statement from the tour said.

“Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the band, crew and most of all the fans, the tour is cancelled”

Affected dates include eight shows in August, including performances at Stubbs BBQ in Austin, the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, and Irving Plaza in New York.

Canadian rock legends Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings have followed suit, announcing that the US leg of their ‘Together Again – Live In Concert’ tour has been cancelled, again, due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Slated to start 1 September at the Foellinger Theatre in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the tour was scheduled to run through the rest of the month before finishing at the Smith Centre in Las Vegas on 24 September.

“While Randy and Burton have been looking forward to reuniting for their fans throughout the United States, they extend their love and appreciation to all of the fans that were planning to come to these shows, and they cannot wait to see you all again when things are more predictable in terms of travel in and out of Canada.”

The growing concerns about artists’ health and safety while gigging during the pandemic have been validated by a slate of cancellations due to touring members testing positive for Covid-19.

Counting Crows pulled out of their Boston show mere hours before the show after a touring member tested positive

On Sunday (8 August), American rock band Counting Crows pulled out of their Boston show mere hours before they were due on stage after a member of the band’s touring party tested positive for Covid-19.

The band were forced to postpone the concert at Leader Bank Pavilion, as well as their gig in Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, Ohio, two nights later.

In a post on social media, they noted that the entire band and crew have been vaccinated and have been taking precautions to be as safe as possible.

Similarly, rock stalwarts Lynyrd Skynyrd postponed four upcoming performances on their current summer tour after the band’s longtime guitarist Rickey Medlocke tested positive for Covid-19.

Affected shows include 9 August performance at Tom Beson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio; 10 August at the Jackson County Fair in Jackson, Michigan; Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta on 13 August; and Rock The South in Culman, Alabam on 14 August.

The US is averaging more than 124,000 new virus cases each day – the highest rate since early February

Sebastian Bach also announced he had tested positive after several shows and days earlier, Fall Out Boy pulled out of their spots on the ‘Hella Mega’ tour (with Green Day and Weezer) in Boston, New York, and Washington DC.

The US is averaging more than 124,000 new virus cases each day, more than double the levels of two weeks ago and the highest rate since early February, according to a New York Times database.

As the Delta variant tears through the US, more key players from the country’s live sector are implementing mandates to keep staff and artists safe.

Yesterday (9 August), Live Nation announced it is allowing artists performing at its US venues to require all attendees and staff to be fully vaccinated or to show a negative test result to gain entry, where permitted by law.

While New York became the first major city to require proof of being vaccinated for anyone who wants to attend an indoor live show – reinforcing similar requirements already set by venues such as Madison Square Garden.

 


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$1bn artists line up global tours as confidence builds

Some of the world’s biggest artists, collectively worth more than US$1 billion in ticket revenue between 2018 and 2020, will hit the road again in 2021 and ’22, as confidence builds for a return to international touring over the next 12 months.

Sir Elton John, Celine Dion, Metallica, Michael Bublé, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and Eagles – all of whom ranked among the highest-grossing tours of 2018, 2019 and 2020, grossing more than $1bn between them – have in recent weeks revealed plans for new or rescheduled global tours, many of them starting as soon as this summer.

Sir Elton has extended his disrupted final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, with a bumper 30-date, six-month stadium run across across mainland Europe, the UK and the United States.

https://twitter.com/eltonofficial/status/1407684876338405378

“Hello, all you wonderful fans out there. I’m coming to you today with an announcement I’ve been working towards for, well, all my life: the shows that I announce today will be my final tour dates ever in North America and Europe,” he says in a statement.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best, with the most spectacular production I’ve ever had, playing in places that have meant so much to me throughout my career.

“Whether it’s next summer in Frankfurt or at the legendary Dodger Stadium for the grand finale in the United States, I can’t wait to see you all on the road one last time. This has been an incredible tour so far, full of the most amazing highs, and I look forward to making more wonderful memories with you at these final shows.”

The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, Sir Elton’s farewell tour, was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic last March, with the last show on 7 March 2020 at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Australia. The tour resumes on 1 September at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin and will conclude in Australasia in 2023.

The tour, produced and promoted by AEG Presents, grossed $212 million in 2019 and $71.2m in 2020.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best”

Springsteen, who grossed an incredible $88.3m from his Springsteen on Broadway shows, which had an average ticket price of $509, in 2018, also has live plans for 2022.

As well as reviving Springsteen on Broadway, Springsteen confirmed to E Street Radio on SiriusXM he is planning a full tour with his E Street Band in 2022. “I knew we were going to tour with the band next year,” he said, “[but] I had a friend who got so enthusiastic about it [Springsteen on Broadway] that he talked me into it sitting on my couch one night. The next day I said, ‘OK, we’ll do some shows.’ It really came around kind of casually.”

Eagles, meanwhile recently added another six dates to their long-delayed Hotel California tour, which kicks off at Madison Square Garden in New York in August.

While the band has only announced the rescheduled US dates so far (the first leg ends at Chase Center in San Francisco on 23 October 2021), pre-pandemic the Live Nation-promoted tour included included dates in London (Wembley Stadium) and Los Cabos, Mexico (Cabo en Vivo), so it is expected that additional European and Latin American shows are still to be announced.

Eagles grossed $166m from their 2018 North American tour.

Metal titans Metallica earlier this month announced six European festival shows for 2022, adding to the open-air shows pencilled in for the US in September, October and November 2021.

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there”

Under the banner The Return of the European Summer Vacation, the band will play headline shows at Denmark’s Copenhell, the Netherlands’ Pinkpop, Italy’s Firenze Rocks, the Czech Republic’s Prague Rocks, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, Spain’s Mad Cool and Portugal’s NOS Alive. .

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there and are finally announcing our return to Europe in 2022,” say Metallica in a statement. “Needless to say, we cannot wait to see all of you once again as our European ’tallica Family will finally have a chance to reunite in June and July of next year.”

The festivals next year will be Metallica’s first European shows since their Worldwired global tour, which grossed a total of $179m in 2019.

Elsewhere, Bublé (who grossed $115.8m in 2019 and $24.8m in 2020) is resuming his An Evening With Michael Bublé tour in North America in August, while Dion’s (2020 gross: $71.2m) postponed Courage world tour will finally kick off the same month in Winnipeg.

Also resuming a postponed tour this summer are Guns’ N Roses, whose world stadium tour – newly rechristened We’re F’n’ Back! – will begin at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on 31 July 2021. The tour will include Australasian dates later this year and a string of European stadium shows next summer.

Opening the tour will be the late Eddie Van Halen’s bassist, son Wolfgang, with his band Mammoth WVH.

 


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Michael Bublé joins the O2’s 21 Club

Michael Bublé has been presented with a symbolic key to the O2 after reaching a milestone 21 performances at the London arena.

The Canadian crooner becomes the fifth artist to join the O2’s ‘21 Club’, and the most recent after Drake earlier this year.

Bublé first performed at the O2 (20,000-cap.) in 2008 as part of his Irresponsible tour, later returning in 2010 for two Crazy Love tour dates. In 2013, his To Be Loved tour ran for ten nights, and Bublé returned in 2014 (for two shows) and 2018 (one show).

His latest tour, An Evening with Michael Bublé, sees the artist hit the magic number, joining the 21 Club alongside Drake, Prince (the first member), Take That, One Direction and comedian Michael McIntyre.

“Since the very first time he played the arena back in 2008, Michael Bublé has brought some incredible performances to the stage”

Designed by the O2, the key is finished in gold, mounted over pleated blue velvet, and has the initials ‘MB’ engraved in the circle and an outline of the O2 within the key’s teeth. In addition to being presented to Bublé, the award will also be displayed on the venue’s backstage ‘walk to stage’ wall, visible to all future performers.

Emma Bownes, VP of venue programming at the O2, comments: “It’s great to welcome Michael Bublé to the 21 Club, as one of only three solo artists to headline the O2 21 times. Since the very first time he played the arena back in 2008, Michael Bublé has brought some incredible performances to the stage and we congratulate him and his team on achieving this milestone.

“We hope to see him back again soon.”

Pictured L–R: Carl Leighton-Pope (LPO), Bruce Allen (Bruce Allen Talent), Emma Bownes, Michael Bublé, Steve Sayer (the O2), Toby Leighton-Pope (AEG Presents)

 


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