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Primavera Sound plans first foray into Uruguay

Primavera Sound has announced its first foray into Uruguay with The Cure’s tour of South America.

The British band are due to headline the four upcoming editions of Primavera Sound in Buenos Aires, Argentina (25-26 November), São Paulo, Brazil (2-3 December), Luque, Paraguay (7 December) and Bogotá, Colombia (9-10 December).

In addition, the Robert Smith-fronted band will play three standalone shows in Lima (Peru), Santiago (Chile) and Montevideo (Uruguay) – promoted by Primavera Sound and partners – marking their first shows in South America in a decade.

Primavera’s debut in Uruguay comes as the Barcelona-hailing festival brand strengthens its ties on the continent.

Before the end of the year, the second editions of Primavera Sound Buenos Aires and São Paulo will take place, while Colombia and Paraguay will host debut editions. The latter will be a one-day affair to mark Asunción Spring Day.

Primavera’s debut in Uruguay comes as the Barcelona-hailing festival brand strengthens its ties in Latin America

As previously announced, Primavera will also debut in Peru this month with a series of concerts in Lima ahead of the 2023 Latin American festival run.

The four dates, which will be held under the Road to Primavera Sound banner, start with The Cure at the National Stadium on 22 November, with support from The Twilight Sad and Just Mustard.

Multiespacio Costa 21 will then host Bad Gyal on 1 December, followed by the Pet Shop Boys – who bring their Dreamworld greatest hits show to the venue on 7 December – and Bad Religion on 8 December.

Meanwhile, in Europe, organisers are gearing up to announce the 2024 lineup for the Barcelona edition on 21 November.

The flagship event will return from 30 May – 2 June next year, with its Porto leg to follow from 7–9 June.

Organisers confirmed in July that the Madrid instalment will not take place in 2024 due to “external difficulties… in the final stretch of pre-production,” which led to “one of the most complicated” editions of Primavera Sound ever.

Primavera Sound launched in Barcelona in 2001 and has also run sister events in Los Angeles and Chile in recent years.

 


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Primavera Sound expands footprint in Latin America

Primavera has announced its debut in Peru, with a series of concerts in Lima set for this November ahead of its 2023 Latin American festival run.

The four dates, which will be held under the Road to Primavera Sound banner, will start with The Cure at the National Stadium on 22 November, with support from The Twilight Sad and Just Mustard.

Multiespacio Costa 21 will then host Bad Gyal on 1 December, followed by the Pet Shop Boys – who bring their Dreamworld greatest hits show to the venue on 7 December – and Bad Religion on 8 December.

The shows will act as a precursor for Primavera Sound’s second editions in Buenos Aires, Argentina (25-26 November) and São Paulo, Brazil (2-3 December), as well as the festival’s premiere in Luque, Paraguay (7 December) and Bogotá, Colombia (9-10 December).

The Cure will headline all four editions in their first shows in South America in a decade. The Paraguay edition will be a one-day affair to mark Asunción Spring Day.

Organisers confirmed last month that Primavera Sound Madrid will not take place in 2024

Other acts set to appear on some or all dates include Beck, Blur, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Killers, The Hives, Grimes, Black Midi, Slowdive, Róisín Murphy and Muna.

Organisers confirmed last month that Primavera Sound Madrid will not take place in 2024. The festival debuted in the Spanish capital in June, featuring acts such as Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode, Four Tet, Fred Again.., Skrillex, Rosalia, Calvin Harris, Maneskin and St Vincent. However, its first day proper was cancelled for “safety reasons” amid “persistent severe weather”, which impacted pre-production at the 96,000-cap Ciudad de Rock (City of Rock) in Arganda del Rey. There were also complaints from fans about long queues on the other two days of the event.

Explaining their decision not to proceed with a Madrid sequel, organisers cite “external difficulties… in the final stretch of pre-production”, which led to “one of the most complicated” editions of Primavera Sound ever.

In Europe, Primavera Sound’s flagship Barcelona edition will return from 30 May-2 June next year, with its Porto leg to follow from 7-9 June. The festival launched in Barcelona in 2001 and has also run sister events in Los Angeles and Chile in recent years.

Primavera Sound recently gained an internationally recognised stamp of approval demonstrating its commitment to LGBTQ people. The Queer Destinations committed distinction, which is present in 12 countries, helps businesses create safe and more inclusive touristic spaces for the community.

 


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The Cure’s low ticket prices pay off in spades

The Cure has achieved the highest-grossing tour of their career, despite keeping ticket prices intentionally low.

The legendary British band said they wanted their North America tour “to be affordable for all fans and we have a very wide (and we think very fair) range of pricing at every show”.

The average ticket price for concerts on the Lost World Tour was $68.54 — 37% less than the average ticket price for the year’s other top tours, according to Billboard.

The 30-date tour sold 547,000 tickets for a gross of $37.5 million

The 30-date tour sold 547,000 tickets for a gross of $37.5 million. Both numbers are new career bests: the band’s previous high-water mark for tickets sold in the US was 402,000 in 1992, while they more than doubled the gross revenue of their 2016 jaunt ($18 million).

As part of the on-sale process for the tour, the band opted out of Ticketmaster’s “platinum” and “dynamically priced” ticket options, and restricted ticket transfers in markets where he was legally allowed to do so.

Frontman Robert Smith also compelled Ticketmaster to offer partial refunds for “unduly high” transaction fees.

According to the singer, the band ultimately cancelled 7,000 concert tickets listed on secondary resale websites, which were resold to fans and the original fees were donated to the charity Amnesty International.

Revisit IQs in-depth feature on The Cure’s biggest-ever European tour here.

 


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Michael Rapino addresses ticketing controversies

Live Nation CEO and president Michael Rapino has addressed the ongoing controversies and debate about ticketing in the US. As lawmakers in the US attempt to clamp down on ticket sellers, Rapino appeared on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast last week to defend the “widely misunderstood” ticketing industry.

Rapino’s appearance on the podcast comes on the heels of high-profile furores over ticket prices and on-sales for artists including Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift and The Cure.

In March, The Cure opted out of Ticketmaster’s platinum and dynamic pricing ticket options in order to keep costs low for fans, but the associated fees in some cases exceeded the cost of the [$20] tickets themselves. Ticketmaster responded by offering partial refunds on the fees, a move which Rapino shed light on.

“The challenge in our industry is we have kept … the distribution cost outside of the price”

“We went to the venues and said we’re going to reduce [the fees] by $10 and if you don’t want to join us, we’ll eat the difference,” he said. “About half the venues said ‘Alright we’ll join you on that,’ and the others said, ‘Good luck, eat it.’”

“The challenge in our industry is we have kept … the distribution cost outside of the price. Generally, when you buy something at Walmart or Target, it’s all built in [to the price]. In our business, for many reasons, it has stayed outside. We don’t think they’re junk fees, they’re not beautiful add-ons to make a ton of money.”

The Live Nation CEO said he would love the industry to get on board with an “all-in” ticket pricing model, but that there is a lot of resistance across the business with ticket sellers worried about losing their competitive edge by being the first to market all-in ticket prices.

“If it’s a $46 ticket and $73 at checkout, you’re going to win [by advertising the ticket at] $43 dollars on Google search every time,” he said.

“Ticketmaster’s job has been to take that punch in the head for the industry”

Rapino noted that StubHub tried all-in pricing several years ago, “and they ended up pulling out of it and said their business went down 15% or 20%. I think that scared people. … to date we probably all have been scared. You’re going to [have to] do it on your own. The artists aren’t going to give you a break.”

He added that even if moving to all-in pricing isn’t “rational,” with the fans frustrated as they are, “we’ve got to build some trust back.”

“We haven’t done a good job as an industry, and especially on my front as Live Nation/Ticketmaster, explaining out loud what happens with the ticket fees, how they’re set,” he said. “There hasn’t been a big motive, historically, for me to … say the venue, my client, is taking most of the money, or the artist is setting the ticket price.

“Ticketmaster’s job has been to take that punch in the head for the industry. That’s been part of why they hire you. There’s no glory in being the ticketing company.”

Regarding the $20 ticket price for The Cure’s arena tour, Rapino said acts don’t need to “underprice themselves”.

“You don’t have to underprice yourself — low to middle-income [people] will make their way to that arena for that special night”

“I think with pricing of concerts in general, there’s this fine line. [Artists] want to make [the concert] accessible but there’s a price to it,” he argued.

“This is a business where we can charge a bit more. I’m not saying excessively, but it’s a great two-hour performance of a lifetime, that happens once every three, four years in that market. You don’t have to underprice yourself — low to middle-income [people] will make their way to that arena for that special night.”

Rapino defended dynamic pricing during the podcast interview, arguing that many businesses, including airlines and hotels, have long used it.

“We started Pricemaster [Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing app] years ago to say to artists that a Friday night in New York should not be the same as a Tuesday in Cleveland.”

Rapino argued that on shows with a high demand for tickets sold at a capped price, the scalpers are currently ending up with the profit that should be retained by the primary market. Artists themselves should learn to price their tickets “closer to market,” he said.

“They [the bots] tried to break the doors down. The reality is we stopped them”

Referring to the controversy over dynamic pricing for Bruce Springsteen’s tour, where tickets reached more than $5,000 via Ticketmaster’s market-based platinum pricing mode, he said, “Only about 1% of the seats were over $1,000″.

On Springsteen’s previous tour, “the tickets went right to the scalper and resold for $2,000. So this time we said, ‘Bruce, you should actually get that money. But let’s make sure we keep the rest of the house cheap.”

However, the LN CEO said the business should be cautious about the definition of platinum. “We better make sure it’s [actually] a platinum seat. And if we’re going to [use dynamic pricing], we better put better rules in place [about] when we change ticket pricing. … So, as an industry, we’re learning how to price dynamic tickets to demand. We’re slowly putting better rules in place to do it smartly.”

Regarding the frenzy around Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour on sale, Rapino said he finds it perplexing Ticketmaster was blamed for struggling to cope with the traffic after being swamped by bot attacks and likened it to blaming Prada for someone trying to break into the Prada store in Beverly Hills to steal high-end purses. If people saw videos of this hypothetical robbery, “they’d say: ‘What’s going on with the Beverly Hills Police Department, we’ve got to staff up.’”

“They don’t blame the product,” Rapino argued. “So what happened with Taylor Swift was the Prada story. They [the bots] tried to break the doors down. The reality is we stopped them. We had to slow the system, but we kept them out. They didn’t steal one bag, and at the end of the day we ended up delivering 2 million tickets to Taylor Swift fans.”

“We’re proud at the end of the day that the purse didn’t get stolen. We were able to verify [buyers’ identities] and make sure the tickets got into the hands of fans.”

 


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The Cure cancels 7,000 scalped tickets for US tour

The Cure has cancelled 7,000 concert tickets listed on secondary resale websites, according to frontman Robert Smith.

In addition, the band has announced a plan to resell scalped tickets for their upcoming North American trek and donate the original fees to the charity Amnesty International.

When the Lost World tour was first announced, the Cure opted out of Ticketmaster’s platinum and dynamic pricing ticket options. The band also restricted ticket transfers in markets where it was legally allowed to do so in places like New York, Illinois, and Colorado.

“Any/all tickets obtained in this way will be cancelled and original fees paid on those tickets will not be refunded”

Following that move, Smith last Friday (31 March) announced: “Approx 7k tickets across approx 2200 orders have been cancelled. These are tickets acquired with fake accounts/ listed on secondary resale sites.”

The night prior, Smith said ticket buyers should not try to find a loophole with ticket transfer rules, and warned, “offering to sell/send account login details to get around [Ticketmaster] transfer limitations… any/all tickets obtained in this way will be cancelled, and original fees paid on those tickets will not be refunded.”

Pricing around the The Cure’s US tour has proved controversial in recent weeks, with the singer having criticised Ticketmaster for “unduly high” fees charged in the Verified Fan onsale for the dates, some of which were more than the face value of the ticket. However, Ticketmaster later agreed to refund fans some of the fees (between $5 and $10), as a “gesture of goodwill”.

 


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The Cure convince Ticketmaster to refund fees

The Cure have persuaded Ticketmaster to offer partial refunds for “unduly high” ticketing fees charged in the Verified Fan sale for the band’s upcoming North American tour.

The firm had come in for criticism during this week’s sale when ticket-holders posted screenshots online showing some fees exceeding the cost of the tickets themselves.

Ticket prices started at $20 (€18.80) as the group wanted the tour “to be affordable for all fans”, but the BBC cited examples such as one customer who bought four $20 tickets ended up paying $172,10 (€161.78), after service fees, a facility charge and an order processing fee were added.

Posting yesterday (16 March) on Twitter, The Cure’s frontman Robert Smith said he was “sickened” by the “debacle”. “To be very clear: the artist has no way to limit them,” he wrote. “I have been asking how they were justified. If I get anything coherent by way of answer I will let you all know.”

However, Smith later reported that, as a “gesture of goodwill”, Ticketmaster had agreed to offer refunds of $5-10.

“After further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high, and as a gesture of goodwill have offered a $10 per ticket refund to all Verified Fan accounts for lowest ticket price (‘LTP’) transactions, and a $5 per ticket refund to all Verified Fan accounts for all other ticket price transactions,” says Smith.

“For all Cure shows at all venues; if you already bought a ticket you will get an automatic refund; all tickets on sale tomorrow will incur lower fees.”

“It’s about giving that power back to the artists, making sure they have the right to decide how their tickets are distributed and how their tickets are sold”

The legendary British band begin their first full-scale US and Canada run since 2016 at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center on 10 May. The 30-date tour is due to wrap up at the Miami-Dade Arena in Miami on 1 July.

The group have made tickets for shows non transferable where possible, in an effort to clamp down on touting. In addition, they say that “apart from a few Hollywood Bowl charity seats, there will be no ‘platinum’ or ‘dynamically priced’ tickets” sold.

Last month, Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation launched the Fair Ticketing Act, which says that artists should decide resale rules and calls for industry-wide all-in pricing so fans see the full cost they are paying up front, and has been backed by live giants such as CAA, UTA, Wasserman Music and WME.

LN president and CFO Joe Berchtold discussed the push for ticketing reforms in an interview at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media and Telecom Conference last week.

“It’s about giving that power back to the artists, making sure they have the right to decide how their tickets are distributed and how their tickets are sold,” he said, “and a lot of common sense measures that we understand the scalpers are going to fight against because it goes to the heart of their ability to unfairly get tickets and get between the artist and the fan.

“We’re 100% confident that, as light is shined on this industry, it’s going to really demonstrate that we’ve been doing things on behalf of the artists and we’re continuing to fight in that vein – and I think, ultimately, that wins.”

 


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The Cure move to stamp out touts on US tour

The Cure say tickets for their upcoming 30-date North American tour will be non transferable in an effort to clamp down on touting.

The legendary British band begin their first full-scale US and Canada run since 2016 at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center on 10 May. The tour is due to wrap up at the Miami-Dade Arena in Miami on 1 July.

Fans had until today (13 March) to register with Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan scheme, with a “lottery-style process” to be used to determine which entrants will receive a unique access code or be put on the waitlist for the 15 March sale.

In addition, the band say that “apart from a few Hollywood Bowl charity seats, there will be no ‘platinum’ or ‘dynamically priced’ tickets” sold for the tour, with prices for certain dates reportedly starting as low as $21.25 (€20).

“We want the tour to be affordable for all fans and we have a very wide (and we think very fair) range of pricing at every show,” says a social media post by the group. “Our ticketing partners have agreed to help us stop scalpers from getting in the way. To help minimise resale and keep prices at face value, tickets for this tour will not be transferable.

“Despite our desire to protect our low ticket prices for fans, the states of NY, IL and CO make this very difficult – they actually have laws in place that protect scalpers!”

“If something comes up that prevents a fan from being able to use a ticket they have purchased, they will be able to resell it on a face value ticket exchange.”

The band advise, however, that laws in New York, Illinois and Colorado mean shows in those states will be exempt from the restrictions, but still encourage ticket-holders no longer able to attend to sell their tickets on face value resale sites.

“Unfortunately, despite our desire to protect our low ticket prices for fans, the states of NY, IL and CO make this very difficult – they actually have laws in place that protect scalpers,” adds the statement. “For shows in these states we urge fans to buy or sell tickets to one another on face value exchanges like Twickets.live or Cashortrade.org.

“Fans should avoid buying tickets that are being resold at inflated prices by scalpers, and the sites that host these scalpers should refrain from reselling tickets for our shows.”

Revisit IQ‘s in-depth feature on The Cure’s biggest-ever European tour here.

 


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Just Like Heaven: Inside The Cure’s European tour

Having entertained millions of people on their 2019 festivals tour, a headline outing the following year was very much on the cards for The Cure, before the pandemic halted every act with such ambitions. But determined to reconnect with fans following the enforced lay-off, the band are currently in the midst of their biggest-ever European tour.

With most dates already sold out weeks in advance, bar some last-minute production holds and restricted-view tickets, the tour is an unmitigated success. But the planning involved to get the band back out on the road has been gruelling, with agent Martin Hopewell confessing it has been the hardest tour he has worked on in his 50-year career.

“Robert Smith and I started talking about this tour not long after the 2019 festival run. Originally, we were looking at stuff for 2020, so effectively, this tour has been two years in the planning,” says Hopewell.

“When the pandemic hit in 2020, things that were due to happen that summer got moved to the autumn. In the autumn, those postponed shows and the scheduled autumn shows got moved into the spring of 2021. And then, when it became clear that that wasn’t going to happen, stuff from the spring of 2021 got moved to the autumn of 2021 on top of the stuff that was already planned for the ultimate 2021. It was like blowing leaves: you just end up with a bloody great pile of them somewhere! And in this case, it was five touring periods that got moved and ended up on top of each other in autumn 2022.”

“Trying to get availabilities was just a screaming nightmare…this is probably the most difficult tour I’ve ever booked”

However, as it became clear that Smith and the band were adamant about pressing ahead with a tour, Hopewell and his Primary Talent International colleague, Charlie Renton, rolled up their sleeves for what proved to be a mammoth exercise.

“Trying to get availabilities was just a screaming nightmare,” says Hopewell. “This is probably the most difficult tour I’ve ever booked. Putting something together during the pandemic was unbelievably challenging, and it took a big piece out of everybody involved in trying to put it together.”

He continues, “The biggest problem that we had was deciding when might be a safe time to do it. That, and the fact that every act in the world seemed to be planning tours in 2022 and had pencilled in holds at venues to the point where you might be 6th or 8th in line for any one particular date!”

Primary
Unperturbed, Hopewell and Renton hatched a plan. “Charlie and I collected the availabilities and made these monstrous spreadsheets, so that in the end we had six tours on hold: two for the autumn of this year – one starting in September, one starting in October; my favourite one was starting in the spring of next year – we had three different schedules lined up for next year; and we also put together an outdoor proposal for a summer 2022 tour with a whole load of beautiful parks and lakes and stadiums and castles in case there were still indoor restrictions.”

Charlie Renton tells IQ, “Not knowing what the Covid restrictions would be in certain countries was difficult, hence the reason we planned six different options, which is the most I’ve ever done – plus this is the biggest tour I’ve ever been involved in, so it was a huge challenge.”

“We’re playing 46 shows, which is the longest European tour that The Cure have ever done”

That drawn-out process allowed the agents and Robert Smith – who is the band’s de facto manager – to have a conversation about a number of different touring possibilities. “And, of course, he chose the trickiest one,” laughs Hopewell.

The routing sees the band travel roughly 12,000 miles across 19 European countries before finishing with the UK’s four home nations – Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. That schedule should see them entertaining more than 500,000 fans, thanks to a hardworking clique of European promoters who Hopewell affectionately refers to as ‘The Cure team.’

“We’re playing 46 shows, which is the longest European tour that The Cure have ever done,” states Hopewell. “Even then we weren’t able to include everything in the routing, but it was good to be able to put shows into some places the band haven’t played for a while – along with some new ones. We’d never been to the Baltic States before, so it was great to kick off the tour in Latvia. Our promoters did a great job at a very difficult time.”

Into the Dark
Production manager Phil Broad first worked with The Cure in the 1980s when he was a rigger, but he’s been the chief for the three most recent tours – the 2016 arena tour, the 2019 outdoor outing, and the current extravaganza.

Observing that many road warriors were a bit rusty when live music resumed, he says the early experience of tours being short-staffed seems to be resolving itself. “We’re not experiencing local crew shortages, really, but there are a lot of new people, so the crew situation definitely is not back to where it was,” he reports. “The Cure have a fairly sensible core crew of 32 people, so even where we’re turning up and there are inexperienced people on the local crew who are just there to make up the numbers, we can handle it pretty well.”

“The Cure don’t do production rehearsals, so there’s no room for error”

One complication is the band’s approach to touring, although given the history that most individuals on the crew have with the act, Broad takes it in his stride. “The Cure don’t do production rehearsals, so there’s no room for error,” he tells IQ. “Starting off a tour with them can be a bit nail-biting, as you need to have enough trucks, and there’s no point having one truck too many because it’s still going to cost you if you have to send it back. Basically, we arrived at the Arena Riga, loaded in, the band rehearsed that night, and then the next day we had the first show.”

…Happily Ever After
It’s not just the fans who had been clamouring for the band to restart their live activities. Promoters throughout Europe are reporting impressive ticket sales across the 22 territories the band are visiting.

“To be honest, I’d forgotten how extremely good The Cure are and how much I like them until they played the show in Stockholm,” says Thomas Johansson, Live Nation Nordics chairman. “They have some of the best pop songs ever written, and I noticed that they are attracting a younger element to their audience than ever before.

“The band are a true rock & roll outfit, and they do extremely well in our part of the world – they sold out in Norway and Copenhagen, and they were very close to selling out both the Avicii Arena and the Gothenburg shows in Sweden.”

In France, Alias Production founder Jules Frutos has eight sold-out dates. “I’ve been working with the band since before they even released their debut album Three Imaginary Boys [in 1979], so I’ve seen them play very small clubs in the likes of Orleans and Tours, right the way up to the venues they are doing now,” he says.

“To be honest, I’d forgotten how extremely good The Cure are…they have some of the best pop songs ever written”

Paying tribute to The Cure’s approach to the French market, Frutos notes that they have previously played all the venues they are visiting in 2022 – in Lyon, Montpellier, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Strasbourg, Liévin, and Paris – but not all on the same tour. He adds, “They understood early on that the provinces are sometimes easier to play than Paris, where there are a limited number of venues, so the way they built their career in France has been very classical and special.”

Frutos also testifies to the band’s multigenerational appeal. “When they headlined Rock en Seine in 2019, that day of the festival sold out quicker than the others. The festival attracts a young audience, and when I went to see The Cure, it was very special – the people at the front, closest to the stage, were two or three generations of fans.”

Across the border in Spain, Live Nation’s Gay Mercader is also a long-time partner. “I’ve worked with the band for close to 40 years, and it has been a privilege – Martin Hopewell and the band have been incredibly loyal to all of their promoters over the years. It’s a big responsibility because when someone relies on you, you can never fuck up.”

Highlighting the band’s enduring – and growing – appeal, Mercader says, “I found out during the pandemic that many people in my life are massive fans of The Cure: my lawyer, some of the people who work on my estate. And they are not all ‘goth’ people. Cure fans are everywhere.

“I always sell out with The Cure. They last visited Spain in 2019 when they played Mad Cool Festival in Madrid, where their performance was televised on national TV, and they attracted the biggest audience of the whole festival.”

“The set is always crazily long – up to three hours – so they play literally every hit that’s out there: it’s an amazing show”

In Germany, Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion has been working with The Cure since 1980. But it’s Ben Mitha, who has taken over as managing director of his grandfather’s business, who promotes the band. “I actually got involved on their 2016 tour,” says Mitha. “I did all the settlements regarding those shows, and I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the road with them for our seven shows in Germany.

“It’s gonna be fun. The set is always crazily long – up to three hours – so they play literally every hit that’s out there: it’s an amazing show.”

In Italy, Barley Arts founder Claudio Trotta has four dates lined up – Bologna, Florence, Padova, and Milan. He’s been the band’s promoter since the 1980s and is in awe of their work ethic. “Many years ago, I had a sold-out show at the Forum in Milano, and all the audience were already in the venue, but [bass player] Simon Gallup was feeling so sick that he couldn’t even stand up,” recalls Trotta.

“We were at the point when Barry Hunter was ready to play instead of him on bass, but Simon said clearly, ‘I will play even if I’m gonna die on stage.’ So he did the show seated because he was in such pain. And after the show, he was three or four months in hospital because of an infection. From that day [on he’s been] my hero. I mean, we’re talking about a great human being with a lot of passion and who has a lot of respect for the audience.”

And remembering another instance, where the band played an outdoor show near Venice, during a rain storm, Trotta adds, “Robert and the band didn’t give a damn – they were soaked, but they played the show to the end. In my heart and in my mind, The Cure are in a different league.”

“In my heart and in my mind, The Cure are in a different league”

While Trotta also reports healthy ticket sales, it’s not all plain sailing for every promoter. In Austria, Alex Nussbaumer, of al-x concert promoter GmbH, believes the cost-of-living crisis is preventing many fans from buying tickets. But still, The Cure’s date at the Marx Halle in Vienna pulled in a packed crowd of over 8,000 fans.

“I’m super impressed with how solid they are in the live discipline – it’s a two-and-a-half-hour show, so the fans definitely get value for money,” says Nussbaumer. ‘That’s maybe why when I walked through the audience, I saw lots of families with children aged eight, nine, ten. It was a great atmosphere for a legendary band.”

He adds, “The Cure are fantastic. They have remained very loyal to me on the touring side, for which I am very grateful because they bring with them a very smooth production, thanks to the same kind of set-up and the same people remaining in the tour party.”

Thankfully, the feedback from the road is overwhelmingly positive. “The fans are loving it and are having a great time, and so are Robert and the band, so we are very happy,” comments agent, Renton.

She notes that with Covid cases on the rise again as the seasons change, the touring party are taking their own precautions against the virus. “The band and the core crew are in a bubble, and there are no aftershows on this tour, to try to mitigate against the virus. It’s worked well so far, so the plan is just to be sensible to hopefully avoid any issues.”

“Robert is the only artist I know in the world who discusses ticket prices, sightlines, scalings with every promoter”

The Perfect Boy
Revealing the depth of Robert Smith’s involvement in the band’s career, Mitha tells IQ, “Robert is the only artist I know in the world who discusses ticket prices, sightlines, scalings with every promoter – it was the same with the 2016 tour. So, when you send over scaling plans with those colour seating maps and everything, he literally goes into every detail and changes the colours. It must be crazy time-consuming for him, but he’s very involved.”

Spanish promoter Mercader comments, “They care deeply about the ticket prices – the only other act I can think of who care to the same extent is AC/DC. Robert wants sensible prices to make it as affordable as possible for all fans.”

It’s something that Hopewell knows well. “Promoters will put forward a ticket price they think is achievable and a lot of the time Robert will come back and say thank you very much, but I think the prices should be lower,” he says. “He’s also very keen to see ticket scales that are neatly structured rather than appearing to be haphazard from the fans’ point of view.”

Production manager Broad notes the positives, “Robert is like management. He wants to know the sales numbers, how everything looks, where everything is – he is very hands on. It actually has its advantages: if anyone asks ‘Why do you do X?’ we can answer, ‘Because Robert wants to!’ And that’s the end of the conversation.”

Another anomaly is that Smith is also very particular when it comes to the direction of travel. “Robert is a perfectionist when it comes to routing,” discloses Hopewell. “If you join up the dots on a map and there are any loops in there, he hates it. That makes it fun finding routings that will work, but it makes sense. After all it’s not us office-types who actually have to go out and do it.”

“Robert is a perfectionist when it comes to routing”

Out of This World
Transport suppliers Transam are certainly impressed with the ‘no loops’ policy. “The routing and schedule is very good considering the length of the tour – the agents did a really good job,” says Transam Trucking director Natasha Highcroft.

With ten trucks involved on the tour (nine for production and one for merchandise), Highcroft reports that Transam has had longer to plan for the tour than normal, such has been the extended Covid situation.

“The first quote we did was in April 2021, and we booked it last November, so we were well-prepared,” she says. “In fact, we’ve only had to use relief drivers in one spot on the entire tour, and that was so our drivers could take a mandatory 24-hour break. Otherwise, we’ve been organising our own shunt drivers, where necessary, because we’re trying to avoid the need for hiring local drivers, as productions are telling us that is proving problematic at the moment.”

Bryan Grant, at audio specialists Britannia Row, tells IQ that he has been working with The Cure since 1979, and they are one of his favourite clients. “They did some long stints in the 80s and 90s, but 46 arena shows in Europe is a significant tour by anyone’s standards,” he observes of the current tour.

Grant continues, “The tour is all going smoothly, but that doesn’t surprise me because they have a longstanding and loyal crew of key people who they can rely on. The crew are treated very well, and a plus point is the band and their music, which helps make it an enjoyable experience for all.”

“I’ve been working with [The Cure] for the last 44 years, and it’s genuinely been one of the great privileges of my life”

And he agrees with the ‘perfectionist’ description given to Smith. “Robert looks at every detail and communicates very well with the people who work with the band,” says Grant. “He constantly listens to the previous night’s performance to hone things. He’s the consummate professional and a meticulous planner. He would make a top-notch production manager.”

On stage, The Cure rely on PRG for lighting and video screens. While elsewhere on the road, Phoenix Bussing are providing the means for personnel travel, with Eat Your Heart Out keeping everyone fed and watered and Freight Minds ensuring the band’s equipment gets safely from A to B to Z.

Never Enough
At IQ’s press time, The Cure are roughly halfway through their 46-date run, but such is the following that they are continuing to build that enquiries are already circulating about future live plans.
Despite the financial restraints, Nussbaumer sums up promoters’ hopes by voicing his desire for the band to be back in Austria before too long. “All the talk is that they will be doing something next year, as we’re expecting there might be a new album,” he says.

“They played four new songs during the gig here in Vienna, so we’ll have to wait to see what their plans are.” Noting that he’s looking forward to seeing the tour finale at Wembley, Bryan Grant states, “The Cure have quietly become one of the best performing bands on the planet. They don’t make a lot of media noise, but the production is very creative and quirky but not over-elaborate –
they don’t have to rely on style over substance.”

He adds, “[lighting director] Angus McPhail has been there from the beginning and always has an interesting look for the production. At the same time, the audio has to be excellent, but it’s not there to mask anything – it’s simply to amplify whatever the band do on stage.”

Hopewell admits that the fact the band is on the road at all in 2022 is something of a miracle. “We have half a million fans going to see The Cure – about 11,000 people on average per night – which considering it’s just after a pandemic, people have less money than before, and have less confidence that shows are actually going to happen… it’s really humbling,” he says.

“I’m finding it hard to believe that we did it, because when you’re setting it up, there’s just a handful of us involved – in this case all working from home on laptops and cell phones during the lockdowns. And then bizarrely, this monster tour comes out of it and actually happens. After the last couple of years, I think I can be forgiven for feeling it’s all a little surreal at the moment.”

He concludes, “Personally, I’m always very aware of the debt that I owe to Robert Smith, especially for his loyalty over all these years. I stumbled across The Cure when we were all painfully young and started trying to help out with some club gigs in London. And now I’ve been working with them for the last 44 years, and it’s genuinely been one of the great privileges of my life.”

 


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IQ 115 out now: ILMC 35 preview, The Cure, Germany

IQ 115, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

The November edition includes a sneak preview of the various events and gatherings set for the 35th edition of the International Live Music Conference, which will be held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London from 28 Feb – 3 March 2023.

In addition, Gordon Masson goes behind the scenes as The Cure resume their live career with their biggest ever European. In his latest market report, Adam Woods discovers Germany’s live music industry is enduring challenging times, while James Hanley examines the high-flying business of air charter.

Elsewhere, we celebrate AEG Presents France general manager Arnaud Meersseman‘s 20 years in music and profile 20 forward-thinking companies developing live music metaverse worlds.

For this edition’s columns and comments, AXS director of ticketing Paul Newman outlines how the Covid standstill allowed his team to reimagine its ticketing delivery systems; and Music Managers’ Forum CEO Anabella Coldrick details the various challenges facing the live music business.

Plus, four years since IQ’s agony aunt, Wasserman Music’s Alex Hardee, last shared his wisdom with those in need of guidance, it’s time once again for Auntie Alex to dispense some sage-like advice…

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £6.25 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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Olympia London boosts live offering

The 10,000-capacity Olympia London is widening its live music programming, with upcoming performances from Korean-American rapper Jay Park and UK grime artist Skepta.

The historic event space, which first opened its doors in 1886, attracts more than 1.6 million visitors annually.

Investors including Deutsche Finance International and Yoo Capital purchased Olympia in 2017 for €330 million, following reports that the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) was eyeing up the London venue. MSG unveiled plans for a new future-facing London arena, MSG Sphere, in February.

After a short hiatus, live music programming is again becoming a focus for the venue.

“Olympia London is perfectly placed to host music concerts within our existing calendar of events,” says venue director Gillian Kiamil. “We are fortunate to not only have the flexibility, but also the capacity to welcome up to 10,000 people standing at any single gig.”

“Olympia London is perfectly placed to host music concerts within our existing calendar of events”

Hatsune Miku, a Japanese singing synthesiser taking the holographic form of a blued-haired, 16-year-old girl, played at Olympia in December, followed by former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft in May.

Korean-American hip hop artist Jay Park is performing at the venue as part of his Sexy4eva tour on October 20, before an SJM-promoted Skepta show on November 29.

According to the venue director, concerts are “operationally very different” to other Olympia events, which include trade conference Blockchain Live and the London Dentistry Show. However, adds Kiamil, “the satisfaction we get from seeing fans really enjoying themselves while watching their icons perform live at Olympia London is priceless.”

Over the years, the venue has played host to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Status Quo, Rod Stewart, the Cure, the Animals and Pink Floyd.

More recent concerts to take place in the venue include the Chemical Brothers in 2008, Bloc Party in 2009 and Primal Scream in 2010.

Tickets for Jay Park and Skepta’s Olympia London shows are priced at £44 and £41.25 respectively.

 


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