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Elton tour on target to be biggest Oz/NZ run ever

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road run is shaping up to become the biggest tour in Australia and New Zealand history after promoters announced a fresh slate of shows.

Staged by Chugg Entertainment, Frontier Touring and AEG Presents, dates have been added at the 30,000-cap McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle (8 January), the 30,000-cap AAMI Park, Melbourne (14 January) and the 45,000-cap Allianz Stadium in Sydney (17 January).

The Australasia leg of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020, according to Pollstar. Sir Elton grossed US$87.1m from 38 shows during the mid-year reporting period, with a total of 664,749 tickets sold, before touring ground to a pandemic-induced halt in March 2020.

The all-time list is currently headed by Ed Sheeran’s 2018 Divide tour, which racked up 950,000 ticket sales, and Dire Straits’ 1986 Brothers In Arms tour, which moved 900,000. However, Farewell Yellow Brick Road will go to the top of the list with 980,500 tickets sold if the remaining concerts sell out.

“If we sell every ticket, we will be just shy of a million”

“If we sell every ticket, we will be just shy of a million over all the Farewell YBR shows,” promoter Michael Chugg tells The Music Network.

Comprising well over 300 shows, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour kicked off in the US in September 2018 and it currently scheduled to wrap up in Europe in summer 2023.

Prior to the new shows being announced, the overall sales tally for Australia/New Zealand leg was set to settle on 875,000, putting it in third place in the region historically. Tickets for the latest set of dates went on sale on Monday (1 August).

 


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Mark Vaughan to head up LN’s promoter team in Oz/Nz

Live Nation has appointed Mark Vaughan as vice president of talent and artist development for Australia and New Zealand.

In his new role, Vaughan will head up the promoter team in the two markets as they continue to manage a growing pipeline of tours in the region.

Australia-born Vaughan is a long-time promoter who has spent most of his career working in Europe. He was previously based in Oslo as a partner/promoter at Nordic live entertainment powerhouse All Things Live.

Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific, comments: “Bringing in a world-class promoter like Mark Vaughan is a great addition to our Live Nation team as he brings in-depth knowledge of Australia, New Zealand and the global touring market, especially as artists continue expanding their tours around the world. Mark has a proven track record of delivering hit tours for huge artists, and we look forward to him continuing that success at Live Nation and welcoming him home.”

“Mark has a proven track record of delivering hit tours for huge artists”

Vaughan adds: “For a long time I have been closely following the live market in Australia and New Zealand and admiring the work of Live Nation. The team are delivering a stellar roster and growing number of tours from entry-level club acts to stadium artists, and it’s super exciting to come back home and lead a talented, successful and dynamic promoter team.”

Vaughan will be relocating to Melbourne and starting with Live Nation on 1 August, working alongside Live Nation’s existing promoter team.

Live Nation Concerts’ talent and touring team handles hundreds of tours each year across Australia and New Zealand, and the globe, working with artists including Crowded House, Dua Lipa, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Drake, U2, Jay-Z, Post Malone, Billie Eilish, BTS, Pink, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, BTS, and many more.

 


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LN acquires talent management firm Jubilee Street

Live Nation has announced the strategic acquisition of Australasian comedy artist management company Jubilee Street.

The two companies, which will act as co-promoters for domestic comedic talent, previously united to stage the Together Again series in New Zealand in 2020, as well as shows by comedian Russell Howard, who became the first international artist to tour both Australia and New Zealand post-lockdown in 2021.

Established in 2018 by Bec Sutherland, Jubilee Street currently manages 11 artists, including Australian and New Zealand comedians Julia Morris, Urzila Carlson, Nazeem Hussain, Kate Langbroek, Melanie Bracewell and Becky Lucas.

“We are extremely proud to be taking our long-standing relationship with Jubilee Street to the next level,” says Roger Field, President of Live Nation Asia Pacific. “This deal gives us the opportunity to continue working alongside Bec Sutherland, who was a valued member of the Live Nation team for a long time, and one of the country’s best comedy talent managers and comedy promoters.

“Together, we are dedicated to nurturing and showcasing the best of Australian and New Zealand comedy, while strengthening our position as a world-class comedy destination.”

“This is an exciting next step in my career and for the development of the amazing talent I represent”

Sutherland also served as a strategic leader of Live Nation’s comedy touring business across the region. She will step down from her role as VP of comedy at Live Nation APAC to focus on her responsibilities as MD of Jubilee Street, and will continue to promote her roster through LN.

“Both Jubilee Street and Live Nation are committed to driving the careers of Australian and New Zealand comedic talent locally and globally, and this is an exciting next step in my career and for the development of the amazing talent I represent,” she says

Andy Curtain, Live Nation Asia Pacific’s head of comedy, will continue managing operations and leading on all other comedy talent across the region.

 


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Australasia’s Frontier Touring expands team

Leading Australasian promoter Frontier Touring has expanded its team with the double appointment of Kylie Jeffrey and Claire Marshall.

Jeffrey, who joins as ticketing director, was most recently national tours manager at Ticketek and brings 25 years of experience in the live entertainment industry, including tours by artists including Robbie Williams, Elton John, Prince,  Pink, One Direction, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, as well as Live Earth in 2007 and Fire Fight 2020.

Working closely with Frontier’s longtime ticketing guru Mary Bainbridge and tour operations director Ingrid Hook, Jeffrey will work across the company’s repertoire of tours as the concert business returns to full strength following the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Veteran media partnerships and marketing executive Claire Marshall, meanwhile, has been named partnerships director.

Marshall had a 17-year spell with Sydney-based Nova Entertainment where she held various leadership roles in programming before becoming music marketing director for the network in 2014. In 2020, she moved to Sony Music Entertainment as senior director, catalogue streaming & strategic partnerships.

“We are bringing in two of the best as we look to some exciting touring times ahead”

“The appointment of Kylie and Claire is another exciting step for Frontier Touring, adding to our talented team,” says Frontier Touring CEO Dion Brant.

“Frontier has a long and rich history with Claire in her previous roles, and we built great mutual respect and rapport over many highly successful projects. Kylie, I have personally known and worked with for 24 years. The regard with which she is held across our industry is deserved and reflects her incredible character and work ethic.

“Frontier is built on its great people and with these appointments we are bringing in two of the best as we look to some exciting touring times ahead.”

The company is handling forthcoming Australia and New Zealand tours by acts such as Ed Sheeran, The Script, DMA’s, The Killers, Justin Bieber and Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Florence + The Machine lined up for 2023.

 


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New Zealand removes indoor capacity limits

Indoor concerts in New Zealand can now go ahead without capacity restrictions after the country’s traffic light system switched to ‘orange’.

The system, which came into effect last December, assigns a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community, as well as a set of corresponding restrictions. It was previously set at ‘red’, meaning venues using vaccine certificates were limited to 200 people with 1m social distancing.

However, a “sustained reduction” in Covid infections has prompted the move to orange, which means venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail and hospitality.

“Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a sustained reduction in cases and hospitalisations despite the relaxation of settings”

“Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a sustained reduction in cases and hospitalisations despite the relaxation of settings, so we’re confident a move to orange can lock in those gains while helping the country return to a greater degree of normality,” says Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins.

“Under orange there are no indoor capacity limits and the seated and separated rule for hospitality venues lifts, so bars, cafes and restaurants are able to fill up again.”

Last month, prime minister Jacinda Arden announced the removal of vaccine pass requirements, most vaccine mandates, QR code scanning and outdoor gathering limits, while doubling the limit for indoor gatherings from 100 to 200 people.

However, festival organisers and promoters argued the rollback of restrictions was “meaningless” at that point in the events calendar.

Live Nation-owned Rhythm and Vines was cancelled for the first time in its 19-year-history and will now celebrate its 20th anniversary at the end of the year instead. Elsewhere, Auckland’s Outerfields festival, which has twice been beset by Covid delays, is now scheduled for 3 December and Lorde’s Solar Power tour has shifted to February/March 2023.

 


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Big Day Out festival founder Ken West dies at 64

Big Day Out festival founder and creator Ken West has died in his sleep at the age of 64.

With his business partner Viv Lees, West produced the renowned touring festival, which debuted in Sydney in 1992 and went on to expand to Melbourne, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth in Australia, as well as Auckland in New Zealand.

Most recently staged in 2014, the festival welcomed artists such as Nirvana, Kanye West, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Muse, Metallica, Hole, the Ramones, Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine.

“Ken was big and noisy in life”

“We bring unfortunate news that Ken West; a father, husband, mentor and most of all a legend, has passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of 7 April 2022,” says a statement from his family. “Our family would appreciate respect and privacy during this difficult time. Ken was big and noisy in life, but passed quietly and peacefully.”

West released an excerpt from his upcoming book in January this year to mark the 30th anniversary of the inaugural Big Day Out. Chapters of the book were released on his Kenfest website.

“I treat art as a living thing that constantly changes, he wrote on the site. “The people are the art as much as the artists are the people. I believe that the fact it is temporary makes it all the more important, not less.”

Veteran promoter Colleen Ironside described Ken as “A trailblazer and inspiration to so many people and the person who gave so many people and acts a chance… Another gone way too soon and a force in the industry whose vibe humor and talent will be greatly missed.”

West is survived by his wife Cathy and son Oliver.

 


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NZ promoter quits after 30 years due to restrictions

A New Zealand promoter has called it quits after 30 years in the business, blaming the government’s lack of support for the events and entertainment sector.

Phil Sprey, owner of Wellington’s Capital C Concerts, counts Elton John, Alice Cooper and Bon Jovi among his clients but says two years of Covid-19 restrictions has ruined the business he built over 30 years.

He says the “final straw” was the government’s decision yesterday to remain in the red traffic light setting, which limits indoor concerts to 200 people.

“Nobody’s giving clear, long-term answers – and on that basis you can’t do international deals,” Sprey told The Stuff.

“For domestically based promoters it’s becoming nigh on impossible at the moment because you can’t write a contract.”

“We haven’t had an artist in over two years, so I thought, let’s finally pull the plug”

Before the pandemic, Capital C specialised in major stadium-sized concerts. Since Covid-19 hit there had been no bookings to keep the business afloat, and no help from the government, he said.

“We haven’t had an artist in over two years, so I thought, let’s finally pull the plug.

“Instead of passing my business on to my eldest son, I had to make him redundant, unemployed and now can’t even leave him anything more than a memory,” Sprey said.

The long list of shows brought to Wellington by Capital C also includes KISS, Moody Blues, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, Sol3mio, Little River Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Herman’s Hermits and The Searchers.

The government announced last month it was extending the Events Transition Support Payment scheme, which offers a 90% subsidy of unrecoverable costs to events with more than 5,000 people cancelled due to restrictions.

For Sprey, who couldn’t arrange international acts because of the pandemic, there were no bookings in place to claim on.

 


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NZ: Rollback of restrictions “too late” for festivals

Festival organisers and promoters in New Zealand say that the government’s rollback of restrictions is “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar.

Prime minister Jacinda Arden earlier today (23 March) announced the removal of vaccine pass requirements, most vaccine mandates, QR code scanning and outdoor gathering limits.

In addition, the limit for indoor gatherings will be doubled, from 100 to 200 people.

The mandate removal and end of the vaccine pass will go into effect from 5 April, while the other changes go into effect from midnight on Friday (25 March).

Splore festival’s John Minty told Stuff he is “bemused” by the timing of the government’s announcement, saying it had come “out of the blue” after months of uncertainty around when festivals could resume.

“It’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way”

“It hadn’t been indicated that if certain things happen, we would have less restrictions,” Minty continues. “So it’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way.”

The festival was originally scheduled to happen between 25–27 February at Tāpapakanga Regional Park but was canned after the government announced a move to the ‘red’ traffic light setting.

Minty said Splore organisers would now assess whether they could pull together the festival for late April.

The government’s announcement comes too late for Live Nation-owned Rhythm and Vines, after the traditional New Year’s event was postponed until Easter, and then cancelled for the first time in its 19-year-history.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season,” says Rhythm and Vines co-founder Hamish Pinkham.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season”

The Gisborne festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary at the end of the year instead.

Elsewhere, Auckland-based promoter Brent Eccles is pleased to hear that Covid-19 rules are set to be relaxed but felt the changes were “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar – a month into autumn.

“We don’t have any outdoor shows in winter, obviously, so that they’ve gone to one hundred per cent capacity outdoors for us right now is a bit meaningless,” said Eccles.

“It’s good for summer, because we have got the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, and Six60 coming. So that’s good that there are no restrictions there.”

The government’s announcement comes too late for a slate of other festivals including The Other Way (Auckland), Outfields music festival (Auckland), Northern Bass (Northland) and Electric Avenue (Christchurch) – all of which have either been cancelled or postponed.

 


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Mushroom, AEG unveil Frontier’s new leadership team

Australia and New Zealand’s leading concert promoter, Frontier Touring, has unveiled a new leadership structure for the company.

Frontier says that the new structure has been created to “ensure the legacy, mission, and culture of [the company] is preserved and nurtured” following the passing of its founder Michael Gudinski in March 2021.

The company’s new executive team will comprise four members of the current leadership team, all of whom are elevated to new roles within the company: Dion Brant as CEO, COO Susan Heymann, CMCO Reegan Stark, and CCO Andrew Spencer.

The executive team will report to the Frontier Touring Board, comprised of Jay Marciano (chairman and CEO, AEG Presents and COO, office of the chairman, AEG), Matt Gudinski (chairman and CEO, Mushroom Group) and Dion Brant (CEO, Frontier Touring).

In addition, Adam Wilkes moves to the role of chairman of the Frontier Board in conjunction with his position as president and CEO, AEG Presents Asia Pacific, which he has held since 2016.

“I know Dad’s legacy and the future of Frontier is in safe hands”

In 2019, Frontier (a subsidiary of Mushroom Group) entered into a strategic joint venture with AEG Presents.

Matt Gudinski says: “I couldn’t be happier announcing our new Frontier executive team. Mushroom Group is built on our great people, which is something we’ve always valued first and foremost.

“I’m thrilled that moving forward Frontier will be led by four incredibly dedicated, experienced, and strong leaders in Dion, Reegan, Susan, and Spence, working closely with myself, Adam, and the AEG Presents team.

“Frontier was founded on strong relationships, an artist-first approach and a never-ending passion for music and I know Dad’s legacy and the future of Frontier is in safe hands. There are exciting times ahead for the company.”

Marciano adds: “Michael Gudinski was a man of endless passion, energy, and creativity, with an innate sense for the business, and it was clear no one person could replace him. All of us who worked together on this new structure were bound by the same sense of duty: we’re committed to properly and thoroughly stewarding Michael’s vision for the future of Frontier.”

In the next 12 months, Frontier has shows planned with Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Billie Eilish, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Justin Bieber, Midnight Oil, Paul Kelly, Tame Impala, Wallows, Courtney Barnett, Leon Bridges, Tyler, The Creator, The Killers, Robbie Williams, Lorde and more.

 


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Ed Sheeran announces Australia & NZ stadium tour

Ed Sheeran is returning to Australia and New Zealand for the first time in five years after announcing the latest leg of his + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) stadium tour.

Sheeran, who dedicated his track Visiting Hours to late Frontier Touring founder Michael Gudinski, will visit in early 2023, stopping off first in New Zealand for dates at Sky Stadium in Wellington (2 February) and Eden Park, Auckland (10 February).

The trek will then switch to Australia for nights at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (17 February), Accor Stadium, Sydney (24 February), MCG Melbourne (2 March), the Oval in Adelaide (7 March) and Optus Stadium in Perth (12 March).

The announcement comes on the heels of Foo Fighters becoming the first major international music act to travel to Australia since the pandemic began. The US rock band performed a one-off concert at the GMHBA Stadium in Geelong, Victoria on 4 March to launch Always Live, an initiative envisioned by Gudinski to revitalise Victoria’s live music scene.

Sheeran sold more than one million tickets for his last tour of the region

Further gigs under the Always Live banner have since been announced including Nick Cave & Warren Ellis at Hanging Rock (25-26 November), Isaiah Firebrace at Girgarre Sound Shell, Echuca (4 December) and Tash Sultana at Ocean Sounds festival in Churchill Island (10 December).

Sheeran sold more than one million tickets for his last tour of the region in 2018, which formed part of his record-breaking ÷ (Divide) run from 2017-19. The global tour surpassed U2’s 360° as the highest-grossing ever, with a gross of US$776.2 million. It also set a new record for total attendance, at 8,796,567, according to Pollstar data.

The singer, who is represented by One Fiinix Live agent Jon Ollier outside North America, returns to the stage later this month, for a run of UK warm-up shows, playing intimate venues such as London’s 1,100-cap Electric Ballroom and the 600-cap Concorde 2 in Brighton. The Mathematics stadium tour will then kick off in Ireland at Dublin’s Croke Park on 23 April.

 


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