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The Rolling Stones announce North American tour

The Rolling Stones have announced a 16-city stadium tour of the US and Canada for 2024.

The legendary band, who released Hackney Diamonds – their first album of original material since 2005 – last month, say they will perform their most popular hits and “fan favourite deep cuts” on the run, along with music from their new LP.

Presented by AEG/Concerts West, the tour will stop at Houston’s NRG Stadium (28 April), New Orleans Jazz Fest (2 May), State Farm Stadium in Glendale (7 May), Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas (11 May), Lumen Field, Seattle (15 May), MetLife Stadium, New Jersey (23 May) and Gillette Stadium, Foxborough (30 May).

It will then continue on to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium (3 June), Mercedes-Benz Arena, Atlanta (7 June), Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (11 June), Cleveland Browns Stadium (15 June), Empower Field at Mile High, Denver (20 June), Chicago Soldier Field (27 June), BC Place, Vancouver (5 July), Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium (10 July) and Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara (17 July).

“It’s crazy how good they are and how they just bring it every single time”

Speaking to IQ last year upon the conclusion of the group’s 60th anniversary tour, Concerts West boss John Meglen said: “I haven’t heard anybody say anything’s stopping, so we’re always there and ready. It’s for Joyce [Smyth, manager] and the guys to figure that out and, if and when, it’d be a blessing again.

“A lot of what makes it work is when you have guys like Opie [longtime Stones production manager Dale Skjerseth], a tremendous, amazing band and then the guys playing better and better. It’s crazy how good they are and how they just bring it every single time.”

AEG/Concerts West worked with a host of local promoters on the 2022 Sixty European tour, including Doctor Music/Live Nation Spain (Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid); FKP Scorpio (Olympic Stadium, Munich/Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen/Waldbühne, Berlin); Di and Gi/Live Nation Italy (San Siro, Milan); Mojo Concerts (Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam); Greenhouse Talent (Kingbaudoin Stadium, Brussels); Barracuda Music (Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna); Live Nation France (Hippodrome de Longchamps, Paris) and Live Nation Sweden (Friends Arena, Stockholm).

The run grossed US$121,326,763 at the box office from 712,641 ticket sales.


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Industry partners pay tribute to Charlie Watts

Artists and live music professionals have described the late Rolling Stone Charlie Watts, who died yesterday at the age of 80, as a true gentleman and one of the greatest drummers in rock’n’ history.

Watts, born Charles Robert in London on 2 June 1941, was for 58 years the modest, unassuming heartbeat of the Rolling Stones, bringing a unique jazz-influenced backbeat (he was “a jazz drummer really, and that’s why the Stones swung like the [Count] Basie band!” said the Who’s Pete Townshend) to one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

While known for his love-hate attitude to touring, Watts remained at the centre of the Stones, one of the world’s biggest live draws, for five decades and across multiple line-up changes, though he was set to miss the band’s upcoming US tour after undergoing emergency heart surgery. The Stones’ last concert tour, the ongoing No Filter run, was one of the biggest tours of 2017 and 2018 – more than 50 years after the band’s formation in 1963 – and the group formerly held the record, with 2005–07’s A Bigger Bang (US$558m), for the highest-grossing tour of all time.

In a statement released by Watts’s publicist, Bernard Doherty, the surviving Rolling Stones say: “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital […] surrounded by his family.

“He was a real gentleman who will be missed in the rock’n’roll world”

“Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also, as a member of the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation. “We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time.”

Folkert Koopmans, whose FKP Scorpio promoted the Stones’ most recent shows in Germany, tells IQ he is “very sad” to learn of Watts’s passing. “We promoted the last couple of tours of the Rolling Stones,” he recalls, “and during the rehearsals in Hamburg, where they played the Stadtpark in front of more than 82,000 people, I had the honour to meet him. We we were joking about the bad weather both in Hamburg – we had constant rain! – and in the UK. He was a real gentleman who will be missed in the rock’n’roll world.”

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino also sent his condolences, describing Watts as leaving “a legacy in rock’n’roll like very few do”.

Solo Agency’s John Giddings, who represented the Rolling Stones for a number of years, also remembers Watts as “a great guy” and “a true gentleman”. “It was a pleasure to work with him,” he says.

Known for his dry sense of humour, the drummer was also “always great for a one-liner,” Giddings adds. “When I was first introduced to him as his new agent, he looked me up and down and said, ‘I didn’t know I ’ad one!’”.

“When I was first introduced to him as his new agent, he looked me up and down and said, ‘I didn’t know I ’ad one!’”

Lucian Grainge, the CEO of the Rolling Stones’ label, Universal Music Group (UMG), sends his condolences to Watts’ surviving bandmates, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, and the band’s manager, Joyce Smyth.

“All of us at UMG are shocked and saddened at the loss of Charlie Watts,” he says in a statement. “Charlie was a naturally instinctive drummer for all generations and he will be greatly missed. His incomparable contributions to the genesis of popular music culture will continue to inspire and influence musicians and fans for years to come.”

In addition to Townshend, artists and contemporaries who have paid tribute to the drummer include the Beatles’ Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, Elton John and Dave Davies of the Kinks.

In an emotional video message, McCartney, who had known Watts since the early ’60s, described the drummer as a “beautiful man”. “”Love you, Charlie. I always loved you,” he added.


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The decade in live: 2019

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

The final edition of IQ’s decade in live brings us right up to the present day. From the turbulent early post-financial crisis years, the live industry has emerged triumphant, repeatedly setting new records and reaching new heights in the latter part of the decade.

A number of artists have cropped up repeatedly during IQ’s decade analysis with both Bon Jovi and U2 topping the year-end tour chart twice.

Other acts to perform well throughout the decade include Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift and Pink – with three top-five appearances, including one top spot, each; Beyoncé, with four top-five tours; Metallica with three; and AC/DC, Roger Waters, Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses, Bruno Mars and the Rolling Stones, who all achieved double top-five appearances.

Major industry players were hard at play in 2019, as Live Nation completed 20 acquisitions over the year, as well as recording its highest-ever quarterly operating income in Q3; AEG Facilities and SMG finalised their mega-merger to create ASM Global; Superstruct continued its run of festival roll-ups; Oak View Group launched internationally; CTS Eventim expanded its rapidly-growing promoter network, and much more.

However, perhaps the biggest deal of the year came from one of the live industry’s most controversial members – Viagogo. The company’s US$4.05 billion all-cash acquisition of fellow secondary ticketer StubHub signals that the secondary ticketing debate will carry over well into the new decade.


2019 in numbers

The live concert business is seeing out the decade in style, with new records set in gross revenue by the top 100 tours worldwide.

The ten biggest touring artists of 2019 brought in a collective $1.6bn, falling short of the more than $2bn brought in the year before, with 2018’s charts skewed by Sheeran’s massive Divide tour ($432.4m) and Swift’s Reputation stadium tour ($345.1m).

Sheeran was the man of the moment in 2019, as his colossal Divide tour became the highest-grossing tour in history after knocking U2 off the top spot in August. The tour wrapped up having generated $768.5m and sold 8.8m tickets over three years. The singer came in at number three on 2019’s chart, grossing $211.7m.

Pink, the highest-grossing artist of the year, generated $215.2 million on her Beautiful Trauma trek, which sold 1.8m tickets in 2019, adding to 2018’s 1.3m, and earning her Ticketmaster’s global ticket of the year accolade.

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour came in at second, grossing $212m, with Metallica’s WorldWired tour at four with $179m and the Rolling Stones’ No Filter tour at five with $177.8m.

Twelve artists grossed more than $100m in 2019, one more than the year before, with BTS, Bon Jovi, Ariana Grande, Michael Bublé, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney and Backstreet Boys, in addition to the top five, clearing the nine-figure mark.


2019 in brief

DEAG acquires the remaining 24.9% of shares in MyTicket from German publishing house Axel Springer SE.

Scandinavian promoter Beatbox Entertainment rebrands as Down the Drain Concerts, after its parent company Down the Drain Group.

More than ten million people “attend” EDM star Marshmello’s virtual concert in the popular free-to-play video game Fortnite.

Live Nation acquires or takes a majority shareholding in promoters Planet Events and Embrace Presents; marketing company Neste; festivals Blockfest and Tons of Rock; and ticketer Moshtix (through Ticketmaster).

Providence Equity Partners, the parent company of festival operator Superstruct, buys into industry leading staging specialist Tait.

Oak View Group (OVG), the US-based venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, launches its new international business at ILMC.

CTS Eventim announces plans to combine 26 of its majority-owned promoters into a new London-based, pan-European live entertainment network, called Eventim Live.

Australian promoters Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg announce a new joint venture between their respective companies, Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment.

The decade in live: 2019

Marshmello performs in-game in Fortnite to over ten million people © Keneth Cruz

AEG Presents joins forces with Frontier Touring, Australia’s last major independent promoter, in a strategic joint venture that sees the companies merge operations in Australia and New Zealand.

Competition regulators examine the proposed mega-merger of venue behemoths AEG Facilities and SMG, as the companies look to roll up an international portfolio that includes more than 300 venues.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct Entertainment takes corporate control of Global’s festival arm, amid rumours Broadwick Live is undertaking a management buyback of its events.

Superstruct Entertainment invests in Down the Drain Group, forming a partnership with the largest independent concert and festival promoter in Denmark.

BookMyShow, India’s largest online ticketing company, expands into the Middle East after signing a five-year deal with AEG Ogden’s Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai.

DEAG becomes the latest major live music player to invest in the fast-growing esports sector, acquiring a minority stake in ally4ever Entertainment, a specialist gaming events agency.

BTS-mania hits London for a second time, with the Korean pop superstars making history by playing to 120,000 people over two nights at Wembley Stadium – and another 140,000 fans across the world via a £21-a-head livestream.

Oak View Group (OVG) partners with Live Nation to build and run a new entertainment and sports arena in Santa Giulia in Milan.

DEAG acquires a majority stake in three promoters: Stuttgart-based C2 Concerts; I-Motion, the German division of electronic music behemoth, LiveStyle; and Swiss concert promoters Live Music Production and Live Music Entertainment.

The decade in live: 2019

Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena © AEG Ogden

Live Nation makes moves in Latin America, confirming it will acquire a majority stake in South America’s biggest festival, Rock in Rio, and in Latin America’s largest promoter, Ocesa Entertainment.

Google suspends secondary ticketing site Viagogo as an advertiser indefinitely, following pressure from industry organisations, anti-touting groups and politicians.

After five years as partners, London’s Coda Agency formally merges into its Los Angeles-based parent company, Paradigm Talent Agency, becoming Paradigm London.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ tour becomes the highest- grossing concert tour of all time, breaking the current record of $735.4m set by U2’s 360° stadium tour in July 2011.

Superstruct Entertainment invests in Germany’s ICS, adding leading metal event Wacken Open Air to its stable of European festivals, which also includes recently acquired hip-hop event Parookaville.

Australasian live entertainment powerhouse TEG, the parent company of Ticketek and TEG Dainty, acquires the UK’s MJR Group.

Through its Swedish division, FKP Scorpio Sverige, FKP Scorpio acquires Stockholm-based promoter Woah Dad! Live.

Oak View Group launches the International Venue Alliance, a network of independent venues modelled on its US Arena and Stadium Alliance, with Silverstone Circuit as founding member.

AEG takes full control of its ticketing business, AXS, from co-owners TPG Capital and RockBridge Growth Equity.

The decade in live: 2019

Ed Sheeran’s ÷  tour became the highest-grossing of all time in 2019, generating a total of $768.5m © Ed Sheeran/Instagram

CTS Eventim expands into Russia, acquiring 51% of concert promoter Talent Concert International.

AEG Facilities and SMG complete their merger to create a single worldwide venue management company: ASM Global.

Private equity firm Silver Lake Partners acquires Australia’s TEG, adding to a live portfolio that also includes Oak View Group, MSG and Endeavor.

Upcoming shows by Spanish star Enrique Iglesias in Croatia, Belarus and Latvia are cancelled, as Iglesias’s agency, CAA, declares a lack of compliance on behalf of promoter Art BG.

In a landmark deal that brings together the world’s two largest secondary ticket sellers, Viagogo announces its acquisition of StubHub for $4.05bn in cash.

Just four months after its indefinite suspension from Google Ads, Viagogo advertisements once again appear at the top of Google’s search results as the ban is lifted.

CTS Eventim makes official its acquisition of a majority stake in Barracuda Music, formerly the largest independent promoter in Austria.

Live Nation makes its 20th acquisition or equivalent deal of the year, taking a controlling stake in the live entertainment division of Malaysian promoter PR Worldwide.


The decade in live: 2019

Keith Flint (1969–2019) © The Prodigy

Who we lost

Croatian concert promoter Jordan Rodić; the Prodigy frontman Keith Flint; singer-songwriter Scott Walker; Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading of UK band Her’s and tour manager Trevor Engelbrektson; VMS Live founder and managing director Steve Forster; Matt Ward, Manchester Arena’s head of event marketing and PR; ATC Live agent and LeeFest/Neverworld festival director Chris Meredith; SFX Entertainment founder Robert FX Sillerman.

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“It was madness”: New book profiles production pioneers

Veteran tour manager Richard Ames, who has worked with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, the Who, Kate Bush, Wings, XTC, Duran Duran and Mike Oldfield over five decades in the business, has released Live Music Production, the first book covering the early years of the production sector in the UK.

“I hope that this book as a piece of social history will inform, entertain and delight those who were either there, or on the periphery of, or are of an age when rock music was on its meteoric rise,” explains Ames, who initially worked as a PM from 1972 to 1986, when the business was in its infancy.

“Just as equally, I hope that this will become supplementary reading for tomorrow’s students, so they can see how the foundations of this remarkable industry were forged with the 24/7 strength and spirit of these pioneers.”

Alongside the book, published last September by Routledge, Ames also documents his stories from live on the road at his Road Stories website.

“I hope this book become supplementary reading for tomorrow’s students”

Live Music Production is divided into nine chapters – covering lighting, sound, stage design, full production services, rigging, trucking/outdoor staging, bussing/catering and travel agencies – featuring interviews with industry trailblazers such as Bryan Grant (Britannia Row), Del Roll (Edwin Shirley Trucking), Jon Cadbury (PRG), tour/production manager Roger Searle and late stage designer Ian Knight, as well as a foreword by promoter Harvey Goldsmith.

Ames began writing the book 11 years ago (“I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how this extraordinary industry that I have spent 40 years of my own professional life in came about”), and says he hopes Live Music Production will open the door for other similar ‘social histories’ of the live music business.

“I don’t believe that social history in my industry has really taken off yet,” he continues. “The benefits of knowledge of the past, in so many different spheres, can’t surely be disputed – but as for now, I hope to see more and more factual history research published for future generations to appreciate. [So the book is] pioneering, I hope.”

See below for selected (and frequently hilarious) extracts from the book, or buy your copy from RoutledgeIQ readers can benefit from 20% off by entering the discount code HUM19 at checkout.


In 1970, Jon Cadbury carries Pink Floyd’s gear to the Netherlands for a festival – with no paperwork…

“Jeff [Torrens, friend and Roundhouse colleague] and I were going to go off and tour Europe with our truck, and Ian [Knight] said, ‘Well, why don’t you just come and take the lights to this festival for us, and then go off on your travels?’

“I hadn’t actually worked out that if you take the lights out there then you are probably going to have bring them back again. Of course, we didn’t think about things like carnets, so we got on the ferry at Harwich got off at the Hook of Holland and customs impounded everything!

“The guys who became Mojo Concerts, Berry Visser and Léon Ramakers, eventually sorted it out; they were the people who promoted that festival [Holland Pop Festival 1970]. They paid some sort of bond that got the lights in and got them out again. I actually took the truck to Schiphol airport to collect the Floyd’s equipment when it came in, and had the band’s entire equipment in this seven-and-a-half-ton truck…

“There was no carnet, so I had to do a deal with the customs agent at Schiphol – which was basically, ‘I have got to get this to the site: they’re the headline act on this bill!’ My deal with this customs officer, who was a young guy who was into music, luckily for me, was that he would release the equipment and he would come to the site with me as long as he could collect a bond.

“So I went to the site and told the organisers and [Floyd manager] Steve O’Rourke that we couldn’t actually unload the truck. I said I wouldn’t let it out of my truck until the customs officer had got his bond – which was probably exceeding my brief somewhat – but we got there. Everyone was passing the buck to someone else to pay the bond and I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to take it back to the airport, then. That was the deal I made with this guy, so if you don’t sort it out…’

“So they did pay the bond and it did happen,the Floyd made an album with all of their equipment lined up in a great photo on an aerodrome [the back sleeve of Ummagumma]. That was that equipment and those were the roadies who were dealing with it. It’s extraordinary.”

“Of course, we didn’t think about things like carnets…”

It’s 1973, and then-junior lighting crew member Brian Croft is on a Lockheed L-749 Constellation from Hawaii to Australia on a Rolling Stones tour…

“It was unbelievable – it was cold, there was no heating, no soundproofing, you couldn’t speak to anybody, couldn’t read really or anything – but it became a big thing and we had a tongue painted on it when we were in Sydney, and then we flew all round Australia. Of course, the band, [including] Keith [Richards, along with] Bobby Keys and Jim [Price] the trumpet player, all came on the plane, and then we are halfway across from Perth back to Sydney and Keith says he has had enough.

“‘I’ve had fun, drunk all the beer’, and all that, but you look down and there is nothing but desert. ‘Well, you can’t stop here, Keith – it’s a long way, it’s like 12 hours!’ So that was a bit of a nightmare. Up until now I’d been doing a lot of straight theatre, and it was almost like an out-of-body experience seeing these mad frontiersmen and hippies, and I’m part of it and risking my life for the glory of the Rolling Stones.

“It’s like madness when you think about it now, but we had some great fun. The important thing about that tour was when the entourage – the whole group: crew, band, roadies, tour manager, probably 22 people – would all go and have dinner together. That was what was nice about it: you would all sit down and have dinner together because it wasn’t an unmanageable number, whereas it’s hundreds now in the touring party.”

“it was almost like an out-of-body experience seeing these mad frontiersmen and hippies”

In 1976, travel agent Mike Hawksworth goes into his office, shared with the Who’s manager, Bill Curbishley…

“At about nine o’clock the phone started ringing. [Curbishley’s] receptionist wasn’t in, so I went to pick up the phone, and it was one of those old phones […] where you have to take the receiver off to dial a number. I’ve gone to pick up the phone receiver and the whole unit comes up – the receiver hasn’t come off; the whole unit has lifted off the desk.

“I said, ‘What the hell?’, but it kept ringing and ringing, so I went over to the next one and try to pick up the receiver, and the whole unit comes up again.

“There are six phones in the office [glued together] like this, out of seven phones: [The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon] had left one unstuck.

“I answered it and Keith said, ‘It took you long enough to answer the bloody phone, didn’t it? If this is the service I’m going to get, then I’m going elsewhere!’ and he put the phone down.”

“We ended up with a gladiatorial match between a forklift truck and an old car”

Led Zeppelin rigger Jon Bray recalls crew days off Knebworth in 1979…

“We had a long gap between the first and second show. The site was sort of empty, apart from a handful of us living there with our caravan. We had some very interesting times there.

“One night, things got rather out of hand and we ended up with a gladiatorial match between a forklift truck and an old car. Somebody tried to do donuts with the car on stage. I don’t know how nobody got killed, actually – we must have been fairly out of it. The car ended up being absolutely destroyed…”


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Stones’ No Filter European tour grosses $238m

The Rolling Stones’ recent No Filter European tour, which wrapped up in Warsaw on 8 July, grossed nearly US$238 million from 28 sold-out shows, the latest Billboard figures reveal.

In total, the Stones shifted 7,802,307 tickets worth $237,802,307 throughout the tour, which kicked off in Hamburg last September, visiting Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden throughout the autumn, before returning for a second run through the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, France, the Czech Republic and Poland in May–July.

Two shows at London Stadium alone brought in more than $20m, according to Billboard’s 4 August Hot Tours. The 2018 leg earned $117,844,618, adding to 2017’s $119,957,689.

The tour was produced and promoted by AEG/Concerts West, along with several local promoters.

The first leg of the No Filter tour – which bypassed the UK owing to a lack of available venuesgenerated $158m from 14 shows.


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UK stadium shows face travel disruption

Ed Sheeran fans have been advised to make alternative travel arrangements for the singer’s four-night run in Cardiff, as engineering work means there will be no direct trains to or from London.

The million-selling second UK leg (and the ninth in total) of the ÷ world tour wraps up at Principality Stadium on Sunday, with Sheeran becoming the first artist to play four consecutive shows at the venue. The 60,000 people expected to attend each night are facing significant travel disruption, with the closure of the Severn Tunnel leading to the suspension of the service to London Paddington.

Services from London before the show will additionally not call at Bristol and Cardiff, and trains coming from England’s south coast will terminate at Bristol Parkway, where a rail replacement bus service will take passengers to Newport for onward trains to Cardiff, reports the BBC. Additionally, last trains to Birmingham, Portsmouth and Aberdare will likely leave before the concerts finish at 22.30.

After the gig, trains to Newport and west Wales will run as normal, with replacement buses taking passengers to Bristol.

In a statement provided to IQ, a Network Rail spokesperson says delaying the electrification works in order to keep the tunnel open would have meant a “significant cost” for taxpayers.

“Rebooking the work for another time would mean a significant cost to the taxpayer”

“The Severn Tunnel and Patchway tunnels in Bristol will be closed for three weeks so engineers can deliver essential modernisation and electrification work on the mainline in Bristol and south Wales,” according to the organisation, which operates the rail infrastructure in Great Britain.

“This work requires engineers and specialist equipment and has been planned well in advance, and rebooking the work for another time would mean a significant cost to the taxpayer. Additional capacity is being provided where possible during work, and passengers have been advised to plan their journey in advance. ”

Sheeran’s is the second major UK stadium tour to face travel disruption this week, after thousands of Rolling Stones fans were left stranded at Twickenham Stadium on Tuesday night after a “series of incidents” led to the cancellation of all trains to central London from Twickenham station.

As with the rest of the ÷ UK tour, Cardiff concertgoers with tickets bought from unauthorised resale sites such as Viagogo will be turned away at the door, with fans given the option to buy new tickets at face value and claim back their money via Viagogo or their credit card company.

“Although it’s inconvenient for customers, we are helping them achieve refunds on transactions where they’ve just been ripped off,” said Stuart Galbraith, of tour promoter Kilimanjaro Live, last month.


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Huge summer shows are music to Twickenham’s ears

London’s Twickenham Stadium is gearing up for its biggest-ever summer of live music, as the home of England Rugby stakes its claim as a must-visit concert venue for some of the world’s biggest acts.

The Rolling Stones’ announcement earlier this week that the UK leg of its No Filter tour would include a stop at Twickenham is testament to the stadium, owned by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and which has a concert capacity of 55,000, fast becoming a major contender in the hotly-contested London stadium concert market.

Alongside the 19 June Stones gig, Twickenham will this July host two dates by Eminem – and RFU head of ticketing, music and new events Richard Harris reveals the venue is already in negotiations with artists touring in the next few years.

“This year we’ve filled up all our available slots,” he tells IQ, “but we’re already in talks for 2019 and even 2020.”

While Harris says Twickenham Stadium is still “very much focused on being a world-class rugby venue – that’s our bread and butter, our core business”, as well as serving as a London venue for the increasingly popular NFL American football league, stadium bosses have “ambitions” to grow its music programming after putting a temporary hold on concerts while the stadium prepared for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Music returned to Twickenham last July when U2 played two nights at the stadium as part of their Joshua Tree tour.

“I joined RFU in January 2016 as head of ticketing,” he explains, “and in 2017 I also took on the new events business. Our new chief exec, Steve Brown, is a huge music fan, and it was his vision to get music back in the stadium.”

The Rolling Stones haven’t played in the UK since 2013, and haven’t visited Twickenham since 2006 – what, then, was the process of securing that all-important 2018 date, IQ wonders?

“We’re focused on what we have: a brilliant venue for music”

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a hard one to get to London,” Harris explains. “The band weren’t even certain they were going to tour, but we went over to see them in Paris on a speculative trip in October last year and met up with [Sensible Events’] Andrew Zweck and AEG and said it would be great if the Stones could come ‘home’ to Twickenham. After all, they started out in Richmond…”

Initially, however, the Twickenham team were introduced by an unlikely figure, says Harris: the stadium’s head groundsman Keith, who met a key contact for the band while he was “giving a lecture in Devon about how to grow grass!”

Both Eminem’s Revival tour and the Stones’ No Filter are notably skipping Wembley Stadium – historically the go-to venue for stadium shows in London, but which has scaled back its live music programming slightly following the departure of former biz dev chief Jim Frayling. It does, however, still have both Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift this summer – is Harris conscious of competing with Wembley (as well as newer rival London Stadium, in Stratford) to secure shows, or is the market strong enough to accommodate everyone?

“It’s definitely a big enough market,” he says. “I used to work at Wembley, so I know the appeal. But we’re focused on what we have: a brilliant venue for music.

“The acoustics are great, the crowd are closer and the stands are steeper, so there’s a better connection with the audience…

“We’re in really good shape, and we’re really excited about the future.”


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“I had goosebumps”: No Filter tour touches down in Hamburg

The Rolling Stones kicked off their No Filter European tour in Germany on Saturday, playing to 82,000 people in Hamburg, in the first show in the 366-acre Stadtpark since Pink Floyd in 1989.

In addition to the surprise inclusion of tracks not heard live in more than a decade (‘Under My Thumb’, ‘Play with Fire’, Goats Head Soup’s ‘Dancing with Mr D’), the two-and-a-half-hour show was notable for its huge production – featuring multiple large video screens and, following a ‘Gimme Shelter’–’Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ encore,  fireworks – giant, 1,600sqft stage and 12 grandstands, each seating more than 26,000 people.

Christian Wiesmann, event director of show promoter FKP Scorpio, comments: “To see how, after the intense planning over four months, it all came together, and how the excellent cooperation with all parties involved – the Hamburg-Nord local authorities, the police, the fire brigade, [public transport company] HVV, [ambulance/aid provider] ASB and [sanitation service] Stadtreinigung – is absolutely great. It is only possible to hold an event of this scale in such a special place if we all pull together 100%.

“From an organiser’s point of view, I can only say that we are very satisfied with the outcome. What a sensational concert, what a band […] It was an honour.”

“I have organised concerts and big festivals for over 25 years, and am not easily impressed – but tonight I had goosebumps”

Folkert Koopmans, FKP’s CEO, describes the show as being truly special – even for a 25-year veteran of the live industry. “It was the express wish of the band to appear in the Stadtpark in Hamburg and to begin their European tour here,” he comments. ”

“This concert was very special for me. I have organised concerts and big festivals for over 25 years, and am not easily impressed – but tonight I had goosebumps.”

The No Filter tour is produced by AEG’s Concerts West and promoted in Germany by FKP Scorpio and DEAG. The next German dates are in Munich on 12 September and Dusseldorf on 9 October, with the tour also visiting Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and France – but not the UK, where the band say there is a shortage of venues.


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Switzerland’s abc introduces “rigorous” bag ban

Zurich-based abc Production has become the latest promoter to ban backpacks in the aftermath of 22 May’s Manchester Arena bombing.

Under the new rules, those attending future abc shows – which include Justin Bieber at the Stade de Suisse (32,000-cap.) on 15 June, Aerosmith at Hallenstadion (13,000-cap.) on 5 July and The Rolling Stones at the Letzigrund stadium (30,930-cap.) on 20 September – will be limited to bum bags/money belts and bags no larger than an A5 sheet of paper (14.8 x 21 cm).

In a statement, the promoter says it is “aware of its great responsibility in security matters”. “As a consequence of the tragic events at Manchester Arena, as well as the constantly changing demands of tour safety and artist management, abc Production has decided to implement a rigorous backpack and bag ban on all shows,” it reads.

“As a consequence of the tragic events at Manchester Arena, abc Production has decided to implement a rigorous backpack and bag ban”

By banning rucksacks, abc follows German festivals Rock am Ring/Rock im Park, which last week announced no backpacks would be permitted in the festival arena. (Despite the increased security, the first day of the festival was called after receiving a “concrete warning” of an imminent terrorist attack.)

abc says a backpack ban will speed up entry, with “shorter waiting times” as a result of security staff not needed to search patrons’ bags.


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DEAG’s 2017 “going according to plan”

Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) CEO Peter Schwenkow says he is happy with the German promoter’s start to the year, despite slight decreases in revenue and profit and a falling share price.

The value of DEAG’s sales in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017 was €19.5 million, down from €31.3m in Q1 2016, with gross profit and earnings before taxes and interest (EBIT) also both declining, to €6.1m (from €6.7m) and €200,000 (from €300,000), respectively.

Its share price has also fallen more than 15% in the last month alone, from €2.91 on 2 May to €2.47 today.

Despite this, Schwenkow says sales and EBIT in Q1 were “above expectations”, saying the Euro 2016 football championships “resulted in higher sales in Q1 and Q4 2016”.

According to the company’s latest financial results, its core promotion and ticketing businesses remain “very profitable”, with gross profit margin rising to 31.4% compared to 21.7% in Q1 2016.

“For us, 2017 has been going according to plan,” comments company founder Schwenkow. “Our activities in the UK in particular and in the domestic market have developed quite positively across the board.

“For us, 2017 has been going according to plan”

“In view of the good start to the second quarter and the well-filled event pipeline, DEAG will also be offering high-calibre, high-turnover and high-margin events in the quarters to come. These include, among others, the open air event Matapaloz at Hockenheimring that is likely to attract 70,000 visitors, top acts such as Iron Maiden, Anna Netrebko and Aerosmith and the German tour of The Rolling Stones, which is already sold-out.

“The Family Entertainment division will continue the strong growth of the previous quarters. The very successful, in-house Christmas Gardens are also being extended to other locations due to the positive response. For 2017 DEAG expects around 830,000 visitors at seven locations. In addition, the company’s own ticket sales through the online sales platform MyTicket will contribute to the sustained improvement in profitability.”

Schwenkow also reiterates DEAG’s intention to acquire another British promoter, saying the company is in “advanced negotiations” to add a third business to its UK stable (it partially owns Kilimanjaro Live and classical music promoter Raymond Gubbay Ltd). Sources tell IQ the company in question is a regional pop promoter.

DEAG was rebuked by German financial watchdog FREP earlier this month for “substantially overstating” its recent financial success.


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