Brownie points for those Girl Guides who are prepared to rock
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.
Peter Kay (far left) and Lee Evans: outsold Rihanna and Katy Perry