I'm not sure who gets to decide who is an 'artist of stature'... Possibly anyone who can get away with charging enormous amounts for a ticket.
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One Great British pound gets you $1.11 right now. Cancelling their upcoming European tour Animal Collective, though, cite ‘inflation, currency devaluation, bloated shipping and transport costs’ that would mean them making a loss, even if they sell out. At a guess this means that, with the pound so low that, unless they insist on dollar payments (probably illegal) they would lose the narrow margin of profit that makes touring work for the middling to low bands and artists.
Of course, they could have used the opportunity to invest in British products that the yanks no doubt covet, like Tunnocks Tea Cakes or Brexit hats and hidden them in flight-cases to take home and flog at inflated prices. But I get the feeling that AC are not that crafty.
In a coincidence, a Twitter thread from the singer LoneLady comments on remarks made by Paul Heaton who has capped ticket prices for his and Jacqui Abbott’s tour this winter at a reasonable £30. She seems to think that the example he is setting is somehow exacerbating the situation for artists (presumably like Animal Collective) who struggle to make touring work and states that she believes paying prices as high as £150 to see ‘artists of stature’ is ‘absolutely fair enough’.
Stating that ticket prices should be in line with inflation could be seen as a reasonable argument although I’m not sure who gets to decide who is an ‘artist of stature’ in her book. Possibly anyone who can get away with charging enormous amounts for a ticket.
There’s the problem. Back in the legendary day the Liberaces and Val Doonicans who stubbornly clung on to their right to perform didn’t interfere with the audiences for the rocknroll and beat groups. It wasn’t until the 1980s when prog bands like Yes and Genesis refused to do the decent thing and bought Linn drum machines to programme unfathomable time signatures over which to carry on warbling about magic hills that the idea of pop groups surviving beyond a Beatles decade or so became not only feasible but profitable. Now we have arrived at a snow drift, a glut of pop music and musicians at various stages of hair dye and desperation and the space for younger artists to come through is shrinking faster than the ice around an American submarine’s turret in the arctic.
If only Elton did actually retire. But it looks like he, along with many ‘heritage’ artists are just too needy to go away, hanging around like cosseted poodles, panting for one more treat, to go out with the taste of something sweet on their lips, the sound of a multi-aged crowd singing along once more with one of the tunes written decades ago when they still had something to sing about.
This wouldn’t be a problem if the marketing travelled with the demographic. When Danny La Rue did panto it was unlikely she advertised to hairy students or glammy teens. Even if the posters for T-Rex or Eddie and the Hotrods appeared side by side on a wall with Danny’s there was no overlap.
These days granddads squeezed into a pair of stretchies take the kids along to see the all time greats, impart fabled knowledge of the best place for a crafty, crop-killing pee at Glastonbury and spend hours discovering Kinks B sides on Spotify. Boomers. We just won’t give up.
So, blame Kwasi’s mini-catastrophe, blame greedy ticket companies, blame management but the real culprits for the reason working class kids nowadays consider a gig to be uploading a video to Youtube or Tik Tok is the vampiric good health of my generation. We just don’t seem to get old enough to die.
Main Image Peter Grant
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