Brownie points for those Girl Guides who are pre­pared to rock

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

IT’S AL­WAYS a slap in the face to the mu­sic me­dia to re­ceive bot­tom line fig­ures which de­tail what peo­ple ac­tu­ally like and are quite pre­pared to hand over money to see. The box-of­fice fig­ures that can’t and don’t lie are al­ways in di­rect op­po­si­tion to the fo­cus, thrust and over­all gen­eral con­tent of most mu­sic me­dia. Not that this ever low­ers the vol­ume on that in­ces­sant “blah, blah, blah, I love in­di­etron­ica” back­ground hum.

The Na­tional Are­nas As­so­ci­a­tion – which cov­ers venues in Ire­land and the UK that have a min­i­mum seat­ing ca­pac­ity of 5,000 peo­ple (ba­si­cally your O2 venues, etc) – have just re­leased their top 10 at­tended gigs for 2011 and there’s no room at these ca­pa­cious inns for rock or in­die or any­thing re­sem­bling mu­sic as we used to know it.

The two big­gest sell­ing arena gigs here and in the UK last year were by Peter Kay and Lee Evans. Two love-or-loathe stand-up comics whom the likes of Ri­hanna and Katy Perry (who fea­ture down the list) will never come near to out-sell­ing in the cur­rent cli­mate.

Kay did 702,583 arena tick­ets last year and you sus­pect that if one man and a mi­cro­phone could ever pull off a head­lin­ing gig at a sta­dium, then those fig­ures could be mul­ti­plied.

Lee Evans (he runs around and falls down a lot – and that ap­pears to be it) did 557,597 tick­ets last year. Peter Kay net­ted (yes, net­ted) around £35 mil­lion from his tour and al­ready we know that the big­gest sell­ing arena show here and in the UK in 2012 will be Michael Mcin­tyre, who looks like he will rake in even more dosh than Kay did.

The fact that only two mu­si­cal acts could make it into the top 10(Ri­hanna at three; Katy Perry at nine) is very trou­bling for the live mu­sic sec­tor, as all pre­vi­ous data showed mu­sic had a stran­gle­hold over the lu­cra­tive arena mar­ket. It doesn’t help ei­ther that Ri­hanna’s mu­sic could al­most be as­sem­bled in a fac­tory for her while Katy Perry has taken the Madonna prin­ci­ple of stretch­ing a lit­tle tal­ent a very long way and made it into an art form.

What else are we pay­ing out money in large num­bers to see? Dis­ney on Ice, The X-fac­tor and Rus­sell Howard it seems. If you scru­ti­nise the fig­ures a bit fur­ther you’ll find that the arena gig with the high­est av­er­age at­ten­dance last year wasn’t by Paul Mccart­ney, Cold­play or Roger Wa­ters (as fore­casts had it), it was a Girl Guides’ show for those aged be­tween 10 and 15 at Wem­b­ley Arena which fea­tured a line-up of The­wanted, Olly Murs and Pixie Lott.

A round of ap­plause please for the Girl Guides (past mem­bers in­clude Glenda Jack­son and Mo Mowlam – how cool is that?) for keep­ing it real and oil­ing the wheels of the live mu­sic in­dus­try by set­ting this new mu­si­cal at­ten­dance record. Brownie points all round.

Be­tween the re­doubtable Girl Guide as­so­ci­a­tion and a stag­ger­ing 180 per cent in­crease in tick­ets sold for stand-up com­edy shows, rock/in­die mu­sic has been left out in the car park des­per­ately hand­ing out fly­ers for its “more in­ti­mate” club shows. And that’s how our live mu­sic world looks to­day.

Kum­baya.

Peter Kay (far left) and Lee Evans: out­sold Ri­hanna and Katy Perry

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