Best of 2023: Måneskin’s unstoppable rise
Ahead of the return of our daily IQ Index newsletter on Tuesday 2 January, we are revisiting some of our most popular interviews from the last 12 months. Here, Gordon Masson charts Måneskin’s journey to the top…
When Måneskin were voted runners-up in the 2017 season of X Factor Italy, sceptics may have believed that would be the last the world would hear of them. But local promoters Vivo Concerti were already convinced they were on to something special.
“When I saw them performing on X Factor I knew that they had something more, I knew that they were one of a kind,” says Vivo Concerti managing director Clemente Zard. Vivo’s general manager Andrea Ritrovato explains.” At that time, three of them were under the age of 18, so we knew we would be starting a journey with them because although they had experience of TV stages, they knew nothing about live stages, which [are] a completely different place.”
Acknowledging that finding fame on such a high-profile TV show could have opened the doors for Måneskin to immediately sell out arenas in Italy, Zard says that Vivo’s vision for the act was for a long-term career, internationally, rather than simply cashing in.
“We started to do a lot of small clubs, then medium-sized clubs, because our strategy was to keep people out and build demand. So, the first tour was over 30 dates, when they were still under 18, with us acting like their tutors on the road.
“After that, we started to do bigger venues and some summer shows in Italy before we embarked on their first European club tour in 2018, and we did some festivals – I remember them playing Hurricane Festival at about 12 noon, in a tent.”
But Vivo’s belief in the band has been unshakable. In 2021, the band won the San Remo song competition, allowing them to enter Eurovision. And the rest is history.
“We started to do a lot of small clubs, then medium-sized clubs, because our strategy was to keep people out and build demand”
Many of those involved internationally have been working with the band since before Eurovision exposed them to fans globally.
“Vivo Concerti asked me to get involved pretty early on, although they had already booked a number of dates directly on the first European run,” agent Lucia Wade at ITB tells IQ. “I remember that first tour vividly because I was literally only able to put aside two hours to see the show in London because I had to get home to feed my baby who was only eight weeks old,” laughs Wade.
“It was February 2019, and we’d sold out two shows at Oslo – around 700 tickets in total – and I distinctly remember Clemente Zard telling me, ‘We’re gonna do stadiums with this band.’ He is a force of nature, and he had a very clear vision for Måneskin. And, of course, now they are going on sale with stadium shows this summer.”
Prior to that run of five stadium shows in Italy this summer, there’s the small matter of the current Loud Kids tour to complete. The tour’s original European dates went on sale in 2021 for a spring 2022 tour. However, when it became apparent that a number of countries were still dealing with pandemic restrictions, the difficult decision was made to postpone that leg of the tour and reschedule for this year instead.
But while some fans may have been disappointed, the enforced delay has been one of the happier stories related to the pandemic, as demand for Måneskin tickets has soared over the past 18 months, allowing the architects behind the tour to upgrade in almost every city on the schedule – much to the delight of all the promoters involved.
“Demand is extremely high – we’ve sold more than 13,000 tickets, and it’s still underplayed”
Are You Ready?
Måneskin’s promoter partners report that demand vastly outstrips supply everywhere. “The show was a great success here,” says Friendly Fire’s Rense van Kessel of the performance at Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. “We sold out after the upgrade very quickly – we had nearly 16,000 people at the show. The fanbase is very dedicated, and there was a big queue in the morning already – some of whom had actually spent the night in front of the venue.”
The band’s Swiss promoter, Gadget abc Entertainment’s Stefan Wyss, has similar sales success to share for the forthcoming 26 April gig in Zurich’s biggest indoor venue. “The [original] show was scheduled for 2022 in a 3,500-cap room and was sold out within a few minutes,” discloses Wyss. “When the tour was postponed, we decided to go to Hallenstadion, and this show also sold out several months ago. Demand is extremely high – we’ve sold more than 13,000 tickets, and it’s still underplayed.”
Wyss adds, “They are definitely in a position to headline the major festivals in Switzerland now, and hopefully there will be time to play one or two Swiss festivals in 2024.” Acknowledging that the rescheduled tour using bigger venues was one of the better stories to come out of the pandemic, agent Wade nevertheless notes, “Everybody would have loved to see them at Brixton Academy or in a small venue somewhere. But upgrading the venues was the right move, and I definitely praise Vivo and artist management for being so bold. The promoters were also amazing and were really on board, because they knew that they absolutely could sell arenas.”
Citing one such example of promoter faith, Wade adds, “We wanted the band to add a date at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona to the rescheduled tour. That’s 17,000 people, so for our promoter to actually say yes was fantastic.” That Spanish promoter is Robert De Niento at Doctor Music. “In 2019, we had Måneskin at a 500-cap club in Barcelona and a 400-cap club in Madrid, but for routing reasons we were not on the original tour for last year,” explains De Niento. “When the chance arose to get them back here, we thought about doing a capped arena in Barcelona, but 2,000 tickets sold in the first day, so we put the full 17,000 on sale, and it sold out very quickly – it’s amazing. Next time, we hope we can have Måneskin for a series of shows in multiple arenas or even stadia in the big cities.”
“Management and the band really sat on the fact that they didn’t want to disappoint because they know that the postponement would hit fans hard”
Highlighting the band’s loyalty toward their fans, Wade reveals, “Management and the band really sat on the fact that they didn’t want to disappoint because they know that the postponement would hit fans hard. But in some places, it wasn’t possible to upgrade venues. For example, to upgrade in Belgium we would have had to go somewhere other than Brussels. However, we wanted the fans to be able to go to the show in the same city. So, we added a second date in Brussels. In the likes of Poland and Luxembourg, that was not possible. But the decision was made that it wouldn’t be fair to ask the fans to travel somewhere else, so we kept the shows at those smaller venues.”
Belgian promoter Sam Perl of Gracia Live states, “The shows in Brussels were really special because Forest National is a small arena, and the fans got to see the band up close. So, the production was the same as the Ziggo Dome or the O2 Arena, but the shows were just for 8,400 fans each night – it was very special.
“Even back in 2019, we could feel that if we could give them a platform for more people to see them, they would explode. We had them in La Madeleine just after they had been on X Factor Italy and easily sold out the 600 tickets – and it wasn’t just the Italian population that were at the gig. And last year, the band played Rock Werchter in July, so that’s grown their fanbase even more. As a result, I hope they come back again quickly be- cause the demand to see Måneskin is off the scale.”
But Perl won’t need to wait too long before experiencing the Måneskin electricity again. “We’re also promoting the show in Luxembourg, even though keeping that show at Rockhal did not make much sense anymore,” Perl tells IQ. “But they are loyal to their fans, so we are very grateful the date was not dropped.” Another beneficiary of the bigger rescheduled tour is DreamHaus chief Matt Schwarz, who says, “Our first ever concert with Måneskin would have taken place at Berlin Verti Music Hall in February 2022, [but] we had to cancel due to Covid-19.”
“Both sold-out shows were a huge hit, leaving ecstatic audiences and increasing the demand”
Schwarz says the band then wowed the crowds at Rock am Ring and Rock im Park in summer 2022, helping to pull in record-breaking attendances. That made upgrading the Berlin show to the Mercedes-Benz Arena and adding a date at Lanxess Arena in Cologne a simple decision. “Both sold-out shows were a huge hit, leaving ecstatic audiences and increasing the demand. Hence, we have just now put an even larger summer 25,000-cap, open-air show on sale in Hanover, which is en route to sell out,” reveals Schwarz.
“It’s been pure pleasure to work with Måneskin, Vivo, Exit [Music Management], and ITB on the band’s success story, and we are very grateful to write history with them in Germany.”
Close to the Top
Production director and show designer Giorgio Ioan has been working with Måneskin since the beginning of their career and is one of their big- gest fans. “The first shows were in small clubs, with just a neon sign with their name,” he recalls. “The next production involved some video and some lighting in bigger clubs – 2,000, 3,000 capacity. And then, after the explosion of the Eurovision Song Contest, it got much, much bigger.”
When the original Loud Kids tour was planned for 2022, Ioan had designed a show that could happily tour 3,000-capacity venues. However, when it became obvious that the band’s fanbase had multiplied, he was able to use the enforced delay to scale up everything. One of the key elements of the current Måne skin show is an ingenious system of trusses carrying multiple motors so that every song in the set can benefit from a bespoke lighting design.
“When I designed it, I was originally looking at a trussing square, but then moving my eyes to the side of the computer I thought, ‘hey, what about if I turn it 45 degrees?’ It just gives you so many possibilities. So I sent drawings to Jordan Babev, the lighting designer, and we could see that there were tens of thousands of positions we could have. So, we finalised the best ones and concentrated on those for the programming.”
Måneskin’s travelling circus for Loud Kids involves 45 crew aboard three buses
Ioan explains that the build for such a complex setup usually begins in each venue at 7am and, factoring in a proper Italian lunchbreak, by the time the trusses are in place, with the lighting already connected, and the stage is rolled in, it’s usually 3-4pm, just in time for soundcheck.
“It’s really well-engineered,” says Ioan, adding that loading out at Ziggo Dome took three hours, while at the likes of Accor Arena in Paris, where only three trucks at a time could gain access, it was closer to four.
The design also incorporates a B stage at front of house where singer Damiano David and guitarist Thomas Raggi play an acoustic set of two or three songs during the show before re-joining bassist Victoria De Angelis and drummer Ethan Torchio back on the main stage for the remainder of the show. Ioan has also made use of new state-of-the-art equipment for pyro that uses fine fuel nozzles to allow David to stand just 30 centimetres behind a bar of flames.
Let’s Get It Sorted
In addition to the band, Måneskin’s travelling circus for Loud Kids involves 45 crew aboard three buses, while equipment, stages, and sets are transported on nine trucks. “But those trucks are fully packed,” states Ioan.
Vivo Concerti boss Zard tells IQ that given Måneskin’s career has been built on carefully constructed home-grown foundations, the vast majority of those joining them on the road have been involved from the beginning. Indeed, apart from using the expertise of Dutch consultants Frontline Rigging for the motion control, Måneskin’s production crew and suppliers are entirely Italian, ensuring that the core of the touring party has remained intact from day one.
“You never know what the future holds, but once you have a good team, there is no reason to change it”
“You never know what the future holds, but once you have a good team, there is no reason to change it,” comments Zard. “This project with Måneskin has now been three years, non-stop, so it’s important to have the best people because they become a family on tour. If you have good people, it reflects in the performance on stage for the artists.”
And of course, the beating heart of any Italian tour is the catering. “If you eat shit food, everybody is disappointed, and that will reflect the sensibility of each person from the artists to the front-of-house engineer. That’s why we have our trusted Italian catering team, Giromangiando, to make sure everyone is kept happy,” says Ritrovato.
“We try to always offer a different kind of meal, with veggie options,” explains Giromangiando’s Lorenzo Falasca. “Our staff on the road includes three people – the chef, our [maître d’], and a buyer – while we request three local catering helpers in every venue,” he adds, noting that Giromangiando serves around 60-70 meals at lunch and around 100-120 meals at dinnertime.
And while Giromangiando are delighted to be involved on Måneskin’s most successful tour to date, Falasca observes that feeding such discerning diners is not as hazardous as it might have been in the past. “Finding the Italian ingredients is not so difficult because globalisation has made it easier to source Italian products.” But he contends that the nourishment side of things is only one part of Giromangiando’s remit. “A good tour catering company also has to create a good atmosphere… catering has to be like a happy island in the middle of the rough sea so that we can make the band and crew feel at home.”
Rather than cramming in as many shows as possible every week, Ritrovato says Vivo Concerti are committed to helping everyone on the road cope with the rigours of touring to help preserve that ‘happy family’ environment.
“We want to work with Måneskin for a long time, so we need to preserve their physique and their mental health and, more importantly, we need to do the same for the crew because without them there is no show,” he says. “Our team is the best in the world and needs to be able to load-in and load-out in one day without any pre-rigging day, so we’re very careful that we don’t overload anyone.”
“At the O2 Arena show in London, we were determined to keep the ticket price the same as it was going to be for Brixton”
That caring attitude does not go unnoticed by the crew. Suppliers Agorà are a key contributor to the success of the Loud Kids tour, having worked with the band since their emergence from X Factor Italy. “We provide all the audio and lighting equipment and the relative crews,” explains sound engineer Remo Scafati. “Agorà is a [leading] entertainment rental company in Italy and supplies the greatest Italian artists. We are really proud to serve the guys in their path to success.”
While the tour poses some tricky challenges across its various arenas, Scafati is unfazed. “We have already worked in most of the venues with other artists and we know the issues of each one – the gear we have on the road with us is proportionate to achieve the best result everywhere.”
Confirming that Agorà will be involved on the stadium dates in July, Scafati says solutions for the next leg of the tour, across the Atlantic, are already in place. “In North America, we have a joint venture with Unreal System, a rental company based in Miami with which we did the last winter tour. But in South America, we will use local rental companies because I believe we will not be able to bring all the gear with us.”
Somebody Told Me
Despite Måneskin’s “good news” post-pandemic story, rescheduling the dates was not without its issues – ticket pricing being a particular problem. “For example, at the O2 Arena show in London, we were determined to keep the ticket price the same as it was going to be for Brixton [Academy] because we didn’t want the fans to be upset,” explains Wade. “The solution is that the pit of the O2 is basically going to be the Brixton tickets, meaning it should be less grief for the fans, while also making sure they have a decent ticket price.”
Working in conjunction with the band’s manager, Fabrizio Ferraguzzo at Exit Music Management, Vivo Concerti have overseen a schedule that has put Måneskin on stage at some of the world’s premiere festivals in the past year, propelling momentum for their growing fanbase. “We will conclude in June with Glastonbury and Primavera Sound, to add to all the others we’ve done – Coachella, Lollapalooza Chicago, Rock Werchter, Rock in Rio, Summersonic – there have been some great moments,” says Ritrovato.
“We ripped up the plans so that Giorgio [Ioan] could create this incredible production”
“We renewed our contract with Måneskin last year, so we practically hold 100% rights to promote, produce, and represent the band worldwide. No Italian band has done this level of business before, internationally, so that has helped Vivo Concerti to break into some new territories and to increase brand awareness about the company”
Indeed, the success of Måneskin has underlined Vivo Concerti’s credentials as a destination for emerging talent in Italy. But with more than 70 acts on the company’s roster, including much international talent and a swathe of comedians and family entertainment productions, the company (which is less than ten years old) was named by Pollstar as being the seventh biggest agency in Europe last year, and 12th in the world.
Looking back on the strategy for Måneskin, Zard says, “We always knew that in Europe we could play arenas at some point but the surprise was just how quickly we have achieved that. Tick- et sales have been superfast, so when we were forced to postpone the original tour, we talked with the band’s management, Exit, and we decided to go into arenas.
“We also took the opportunity to add some new markets that hadn’t been there on the club tour. And, of course, we ripped up the plans so that Giorgio [Ioan] could create this incredible production – I think lots of people expected it to be more like a pop production. But it’s a big, ground-breaking rock show.”
He adds, “This is something that’s never happened to an Italian band before, but they are now 100% an international rock band. It’s massively exciting to be part of their journey.”
That growing fan base is very important to the promoters later on in the Loud Kids tour. In Austria, Ewald Tatar is looking forward to the band arriving at the Wiener Stadthalle on 28 April. “We’re very happy [that] we were able to [upgrade] the venue – it’s been sold out since 19 October 2022, with a 14,000-capacity,” says Tatar, adding that the band’s Eurovision performance
had convinced him about their potential.
“At this point, it looks like the sky is the limit for them”
That confidence saw Tatar book the act for the stadium-based Nova Rock Encore 2021, as well as Nova Rock Festival 2022. “Måneskin have proven that they have continued to increase their fan- base step by step in our country. But that’s hardly surprising to me because anyone who has already played with the Rolling Stones is truly destined for great things internationally,” he adds.
In Poland, Alter Art chief Mikołaj Ziółkowski comments, “We’ve already worked with the band twice – at Open’er Park in 2021 and at Open’er Festival in 2022 – and each time their live performance has been remarkable and pulsating with raw energy – one not to be missed.
“At this point, it looks like the sky is the limit for them, and we are very proud to accompany them in their growth. The Torwar [arena] show has been a long time coming, as it was supposed to happen last year, but it sold out way in advance, and it’s going to be an amazing night!”
Another promoter who is really looking forward to welcoming Måneskin is David Nguyen at Rock For People Concerts who is preparing for their 14 May appearance at Prague’s O2 Arena. “It’s the first time I will have a headline show at the O2 Arena, and it is already sold out,” he beams. “We had them at the Covid-free version of Rock For People Festival in August 2021, so not long after they won Eurovision, and they co-headlined one of our days.
“After the festival, we also had a 4,000-capacity show, and it sold out in one hour, so when we had to reschedule, we were confident about moving to the arena, with nearly 14,000 tickets.
“We can see the band’s progress: a couple years ago, half the songs they were playing were covers, but now they have a second album and they are everywhere – on magazine covers, at award shows – they have grown and developed a lot.”
Nguyen also admits to being surprised by the Czech fanbase for Måneskin. “When we did the festival show I was expecting a younger audience, but it was actually a nice surprise to see different generations. I also thought it would be a more rock crowd, but it was very mainstream and truly diverse. In fact, we had a lot of local celebrities there interested to see the band, which was very different for our festival.”
“The date in Riga will be the biggest date on Måneskin’s European tour, with a capacity that can go up to 19,000”
Elsewhere, one challenging date on the Loud Kids tour is in Latvia, where the original Arē- na Rīga show had to be moved outdoors to Mežaparks because of the arena’s ice hockey duties. But even that has been turned into a positive.
“The show in Riga is open air basically because the arena is booked for the Ice Hockey World Championships,” says Sara Gigante at Charmenko, which is co-promoting Måneskin in Budapest with Live Nation, while in Latvia and Estonia, L Tips agency is the co-promoter.
“The date in Riga will be the biggest date on Måneskin’s European tour, with a capacity that can go up to 19,000, which is really big for their first show in the country. It is selling well, while Tallinn is sold out and Budapest is very close selling out.
She continues, “We had Måneskin in Istanbul last year in an open-air venue – Maçka Küçükçiftlik Park – and it was very well attended, especially as it was quite early after things had reopened in Turkey,” continues Gigante. And like Nguyen, she observes that the band’s fanbase is extensive. “In the Baltics, people aged between 25 and 34 make up almost 30% of ticket buyers, so that’s the core fanbase, whereas I think many people believe it is teenagers. In fact, when I went to see the show in Amsterdam, I did not feel alone, and I am almost 42 – I was not surrounded by teenagers; it’s a show for people of all ages.”
Such positivity is music to the ears of production director Ioan, who is relishing the idea of going outdoors in Riga for the penultimate date of the Loud Kids tour. “I’m looking at it as a test because this summer we will have other big shows outdoors, so we can use it as a rehearsal for that,” says Ioan.
“The production is amazing, the sound is incredible, and the band just smashes it”
With more than 500,000 tickets sold on the Loud Kids tour, Måneskin’s star power just keeps rising, prompting Exit Management, Vivo Concerti, and the agents at ITB to announce a further tour for the summer and autumn months that will take the band across oceans.
Ahead of that, the band will play stadiums in their home country in July, with more than 220,000 tickets already sold for the performances in Trieste, Rome, and Milan. And with shows at Milan’s Stadio San Siro and Rome’s Stadio Olimpico already sold out, second dates have already gone on sale for those cities.
The band’s new album, Rush!, has been streamed more than 800 million times. It peaked at No.1 in 15 countries, has charted top five in 20 countries, and also claimed No.1 on Billboard’s alternative albums chart.
The Rush! World Tour will see them perform outdoors in Germany and France in early September, before hopping the Atlantic for a date at Madison Square Garden and a further ten dates across America and Canada. The band then heads south to Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, then skips across the Pacific for four dates in Australia, one night in Singapore, and three dates in Japan, before rounding out the year with shows in Dublin’s 3 Arena and the AO Arena in Manchester.
Vivo Concerti boss Zard says, “I’ve had the privilege to work with these talented and humble performers since day one, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.”
Plans for 2024 are secret, at present, but with countless fans missing out on the current Loud Kids tour, promoters everywhere are already eagerly awaiting Måneskin’s return.
“The production is amazing, the sound is incredible, and the band just smashes it,” says Dutch promoter Rense van Kessel. “It is a big achievement for the whole team that they have put this on the road and made it such a big success. And it was a great pleasure to work alongside them. I would think Måneskin’s future is very bright – these loud kids are here to stay!”
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