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MID-LEVEL TOURING Crisis or Cruising?


10 Lessons from 25 Years

126 AN ILMC PUBLICATION APRIL / MAY 2024 | £25 | €25

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64 16 32 54 NEWS 06 Index In Brief The main headlines over the last month 08 Analysis Key stories and news analysis from around the live music world 12 New Signings & Rising Stars A roundup of the latest acts that have been added to the rosters of international agencies FEATURES 16 ILMC 36 Report Detailing some of the highlights from our space mission-themed edition of the International Live Music Conference 28 Mid-level Touring: Crisis or Cruising? Exploring the difficulties facing the midtier of the live music touring business 32 Country State of Mind Gordon Masson examines the rapid rise of country music around the world 44 Deft Punk Mercury Wheels co-founder Barnaby Harrod celebrates 25 years as a promoter 54 Our House... Behind the scenes of The 1975’s Still... At Their Very Best tour 64 Jung at Heart Adam Woods talks to professionals in Switzerland’s thriving industry for this edition’s market focus
COLUMNS 14 Your network is your net worth Pembe Tokluhan shares the inspiration behind launching a company that strives to increase representation of women, trans, and non-binary people working behind the scenes of live events 15 Understanding your audience Creative comms guru Ella McWilliam monitors the rapidly changing media landscape and provides tips on how festivals can entice Gen Z to become ticket-buying customers 76 ILMC Members’ Noticeboard Members’ photographs from ILMC 36 78 Your Shout What was your favourite highlight from ILMC 36? IQ126 CONTENTS Cover photo: The 1975 at Dublin’s 3Arena in January 2023 © Jordan Curtis Hughes ONESMALLSTEP FORDELEGATES ONEGIANTLEAP FORLIVEMUSIC Magazine 3 ILMC Thousands of professionals read IQ every day. Make sure you get the whole picture… SUBSCRIBE HERE


The concert business digest

Oak View Group’s Co-op Live venue is set to open in April as planned after being granted a licence by Manchester City Council, despite various objections.

The UK’s Association of Festival Organisers is to hand over operations to the Association of Independent Festivals following the retirement of general secretary Steve Heap.

Amsterdam’s Paradiso cancels more than 2,400 tickets being sold on resale platforms at inflated prices for a large number of upcoming shows.

Jack Harlow is to launch a new music festival this May in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

The Thai government reveals ambitions to become a ‘strong hub’ for international concerts and festivals.

Brixton Academy sets its reopening date, as well as details of the first concerts since the venue closed in December 2022, after a fatal crowd crush that left two people dead.

French trade association Prodiss rebrands following a merger with the National Union of Private Theatres (SNDTP) and the Union of Cabarets and Music Halls (CAMULC).

The Botanique concert hall in Brussels confirms it was the target of a foiled terrorist attack, which resulted in the arrest of three minors and one adult.

Coachella festival announces a partnership with NFT marketplace OpenSea to launch a series of unique collections that promise to “usher in a new paradigm in the live event and ticketing industry.”

Respected music agent and former artist manager Nigel Morton dies following a short illness.

UK live music trade body LIVE describes chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s latest budget as “another missed opportunity” after calls for a reduced VAT rate on ticket sales went unheeded once again.

Mad Cool details a series of improvements that will be made to the festival ahead of the 2024 edition, including a decrease in capacity.

Raye dominates the 2024 BRIT Awards with a record-breaking six wins from seven nominations.

UK-based independent booking agency Upsurge hires Philippe Van Leuven from Bandwerk in Belgium as the company’s first EU agent.

Thousands of concertgoers attend the inaugural Montreux Jazz Festival Miami, which featured a surprise appearance from actor Will Smith.

Live Nation president/CFO Joe Berchtold tackles issues around ticketing, breaking artists, and the company’s “hyperlocal” touring strategy at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.

Manchester’s AO Arena officially launches its brand-new VIP bar and restaurant as part of its £50m redevelopment.

German heavy metal festival Wacken Open Air offers a novel form of payment for its pre-festival showcase, encouraging fans to “pay with your blood,” in an attempt to bolster blood donations.

Venue operator Academy Music Group announces the appointment of former Wembley Stadium director Liam Boylan as CEO.

The music world mourns Mean Fiddler founder and festival pioneer Vince Power, who dies at the age of 76 (see page 8).

The final night of Australia’s Pitch Music & Arts festival is cancelled following an “extreme fire danger warning,” hours after the suspected drug-related death of a 23-year-old attendee.

Scottish festivals Let’s Rock and Party at The Palace join forces for a new partnership.

A US appeals court upholds a ruling that Lizzo can keep her $5m booking fee for a cancelled 2020 festival in Los Angeles.

South by Southwest says it “fully” respects the decision of dozens of artists to pull out of this year’s event in protest of the festival’s ties to the US Army and defence industry.

Kilimanjaro Live’s umbrella company KMJ Entertainment acquires a majority stake in live promoter and producer ShowPlanr.

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Glastonbury Festival and Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour have emerged as beacons of the wider economic benefits of live music.

Commissioned by the festival’s organisers and carried out by research specialist Fourth Street, Glastonbury’s Economic Impact Summary 2023 found last year’s event in Somerset to have had a “significant positive economic impact,” generating around £168m for UK businesses, including £32m for local firms.

The report was based on a survey of 643 festivalgoers, plus an online survey of 354 staff and 148 volunteers, along with 30 telephone interviews with local businesses.

Festivalgoers were estimated to have spent £1.6m in the wider Somerset community, 50%

of which was spent in local shops and supermarkets. Around 900 attendees stayed in local hotels and B&Bs during the event, contributing around £450,000, with 4,000 staying in privately run offsite campsites, spending in the region of £6.5m.

Crew working for Glastonbury were estimated to have spent about £900,000 with local businesses outside the event during their time on site, while festival volunteers are estimated to have spent a further £500,000. There were more than 10,000 volunteers in 2023.

The festival also sustained more than 1,100 UK jobs, 325 of which were based in Somerset. An additional 1,750 people worked directly for the event over shorter periods of time.

It also revealed that last year’s event, which welcomed more than 140,000 ticket-holders for high-profile sets from the likes of Elton John, Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses, Lana Del Rey, Wizkid, Lizzo, Blondie, and Cat Stevens, cost £62m to stage. General sale tickets were priced £335.

Elsewhere, Taylor Swift has been credited with helping to boost Singapore’s growth forecast, with one economist forecasting the singer’s six concerts at Singapore National Stadium will add S$300-400m to the city-state's economy.

DBS Bank economist Chua Han Teng told CNA that the concerts are estimated to add around 0.2 percentage points of GDP to Singa-

pore's economy.

"Such large-scale popular events will help to bolster Singapore’s position as a thriving live music entertainment venue in the long-term," he says.

The shows became the subject of international controversy, however, when Thailand’s prime minister claimed Singapore had struck an exclusivity deal to prevent the singer from performing any other Eras tour dates in Southeast Asia.

During his keynote address at the iBusiness Forum 2024 in Bangkok, Thai PM Srettha Thavisin said he was told the Singapore government offered $2m to $3m per show as part of the arrangement, after enquiring why the tour would not be stopping in Thailand.

The culture ministry and the Singapore Tourism Board admits working directly with concert organisers but declined to confirm either the amount of the grant or the existence of an exclusivity deal.

“It is likely to generate significant benefits to the Singapore economy, especially to tourism activities such as hospitality, retail, travel, and dining, as has happened in other cities in which Taylor Swift has performed,” says a joint statement.

Singaporean hotels and airlines reported that demand for flights and accommodation around the dates of Swift’s residency had increased up to 30%.

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Mission ILMC 36 is now complete, and for the 1,500 explorers from 55 countries who attended, it just ‘might’ have been our best edition yet. Sadly, we were ‘outta space’ before some could register, but the Royal Lancaster Mothership was a well-equipped launchpad for explorations into the international live music business.

Alongside keynote conversations with Jay Marciano, and Tim Leiweke & Francesca Bodie, ILMC saw three packed days with topics ranging from festivals, ticketing, and booking agencies to misogyny, withholding tax and mental health. From a case study of P!nk’s current record-breaking tour, to support for grassroots venues, it was a broad agenda indeed this year.

ILMC 36 also featured Futures Forum, the one-day event for young live music execs, and the launch of Touring Entertainment LIVE for family show and touring exhibition specialists. And it’ll be hard to forget either the 500-guest strong Arthur Awards this year or Jarvis Cocker’s impromptu performance at the Green Events & Innovations conference that took place the day before ILMC lifted off.

What struck the ILMC team this year was the tangible positivity in panel rooms, meeting spaces, and in

the restaurants and bars around the conference. ILMC reflects the live music business at large, and with much of the business seeing record levels of ticket sales and receipts, that positivity translated throughout the hotel this year.

We must say a huge thank you to all our sponsors for their generous support and to the chair people and speakers who donated their time and expertise to the various panels.

The following pages feature summaries of each day, details on this year’s London Calling shows, and comment from the worthy winners who went home with a coveted 2024 Arthur Award.

If you were there, a massive thank you for making the effort. And if you missed it, we’ll be launching ILMC 2025 this autumn. Stay tuned for more information soon…



Green Events & Innovations Conference

A host of top names within the live entertainment and environmental sectors gathered for the 16th edition of GEI, the industry’s leading conference for sustainability.

The day opened with the lively Presenting Ecosystem Collapse: Sponsored by Oil and Gas panel, which aimed to educate the audience on how major music and sporting events can avoid tarnishing their reputations by choosing sponsors with honourable intentions. Citing BP’s sponsorship of a festival in Basingstoke (in which BP Pulse’s EV chargers are advertised for festivalgoers with electric cars), Luke Howell of Hope Solutions wondered whether there would be pushback from NGOs and charities towards outdoor events that sign up to such partnerships.

GEI also hosted a conversation about the gamechanging potential of the 1975’s recent landmark “carbon-removed” gigs at The O2 in London. Chaired by AEG’s John Langford, the session brought together AEG Europe’s Sam Booth, Mark Stevenson of CUR8, and Claire O’Neill from A Greener Future.

“For us at AEG Europe, a carbon-removed event essentially means measuring everything that goes on in the duration of these events,” Booth explained, further elaborating that massive amounts of audience data must be collected before the agency can then pay to have the carbon “physically removed” from the atmosphere.

When quizzed by Langford on providing a snapshot for future carbon-removed gigs, O’Neill suggested it was a “mixed bag,” where responsibilities are divided between different entities. “In the case of The O2, the venue is responsible for anything to do with electricity and gas within its confines, the food & beverage is on the catering company that brings them to the venue, the performers are responsible for their movements to and from the venue, and so forth,” she said.

Stevenson also confirmed that CUR8 was in talks with other acts about incorporating carbon-removed concerts as part of their upcoming shows and tours. “We’ve been in touch with Metallica, and Lars Ulrich is

very keen on this,” he shared.

Another innovative concept pored over at GEI was the use of mycelium as sustainable material for building props and sets for touring acts. Hosted by Louder Than War’s John Robb, the Greening the Stage panel saw TAIT’s Carol Scott highlighting the necessity of sustainable practices in the live entertainment industry.

“I think we’re truly the first generation to fully comprehend what sustainability really means,” said Scott. “We’re actually a part of nature itself, and we need to understand that sustainability must be a key part of everyone’s life… We’re actually here to create music on a planet that’s alive and thriving, so I am very optimistic that we’re going to make good choices going forward.”

GEI’s conference programme concluded with renowned producer and EarthPercent founder Brian Eno sharing the stage with Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, to sound off on the importance of a healthy planet, with the latter gracing the audience with a visual exploration of his biophobia – a fear of nature. “I first realised that this condition was a problem for me when my now ex-wife glued together pages of Mary Motley Kalergis’ illustrated book GivingBirthbecause I would feel faint at the most explicit images of women giving birth,” Cocker explained.

Explaining his new outlook on life, Eno stated, “I didn’t suddenly want to give up being an artist to solely become a climate campaigner. But I thought, ‘Why don’t I just carry on being an artist, make the money I can make, and give it to the people who are doing the work?’”

Denouncing hopes of a technological fix to the climate crisis, Cocker noted, “There seems to be a worrying tendency for people to solve the problem of mankind’s effects on the environment by meddling some more.” Reading an extract from the book Salmon: A Red Herring, he said, “[This is] a very good example of what happens when man tries to play God… ‘under the weight of accelerated growth, spines curve, tails shorten, and jaws bend. More than 90% of farmed fish are deformed.’ How much faith does that give you in a technological fix for climate change?”

Magazine 17

Wednesday night at ILMC saw the second edition of the London Calling showcase programme, featuring 17 acts on the stages of five iconic venues in and around Soho. Repeating last year’s successful launch of the event, many of the featured acts performed significant underplays, in small, intimate club settings, for the benefit of ILMC delegates.

Artists who performed:

August Charles



Backroad Gee

Emilia Tarrant

Forgetting The Future Freekind.

Gia Ford


Lala Hayden

Luna Morgenstern



Noah and the Loners


The New Eves


The London Calling concept once again proved popular with delegates - hundreds of whom made their way along Oxford Street to 21 Soho (in collaboration with Ticketmaster), The Lower Third (presented by UTA), The 100 Club (presented by Music Venue Trust), the Spice of Life, and Phoenix Arts Club.

Special thanks to all of the musicians who entertained everyone, as well as FORM and Kili Presents who helped organise the shows. Supporters of London Calling included Amplead, Mad Cool Festival, Music Venue Trust, NME, The Spanish Wave, Ticketmaster, and United Talent Agency.

Magazine 27


While the A-list tours break box office and attendance records, there’s a fear that those high-end, high-priced tickets are causing a vacuum for the career touring mid-tier acts. James Hanley looks back on some of the concerns raised during ILMC 36.

In many an argument, the truth often lies in the middle. And that is exactly what the global touring biz is grappling with, as it faces up to a potential mid-tier crisis. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…

On the surface at least, business is red hot – the embodiment of the smartphone fire emoji, if you will. Records are being smashed left, right, and centre on a monthly (sometimes even weekly) basis. The worldwide top 100 tours

earned $9.2bn in 2023 – up 46% on the previous year – according to Pollstar’s year-end charts. Attendance was up 18.4% in total tickets sold to 70.1m. Gross from the top 100 stadiums and arenas rose 35% and 29%, respectively.

It doesn’t end there: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour became the first in history to surpass $1bn in revenue and is projected to gross another $1bn this year. Swift led a touring boom in 2023, with more tours than ever grossing above $300m

(three), $200m (seven) and $100m (17).

But while the numbers don’t lie, they don’t tell the whole story either. Delve beyond the spectacular headline figures and a more complex picture emerges – a puzzle that was the talk of the town at ILMC 36 in London last month.

It’s widely known that production costs have rocketed post Covid, and with margins on mid-level shows far tighter than arena and beyond, some promoters are saying that the eco -


nomics of some tours now just don’t add up.

“At the top end of the business, it’s clearly in rude health,” says CAA’s Maria May, chair of Open Forum: The all-stars, the conference’s traditional state-of-the-nation opening address. “But there’s a flip side here, with grassroots festivals and venues reporting closures and challenges.

“We’re also fully aware that in the middle and lower range, it is tough – really tough. And at the 1,000-3,000-cap level, there are reports of artists who are deciding not to tour at all. The budgets simply don’t add up, and artists are just not going on the road.”

The UK’s Music Venue Trust declared that 2023 was the worst year for UK venue closures since its launch a decade ago, while UK trade body the Association of Independent Festivals

reports that more than 21 UK festivals have now announced a postponement, cancellation, or complete closure in 2024.

So, as A-list tours reach new heights, is live music’s bread-and-butter business stuck in the starting blocks? For Eleven Management co-founder Niamh Byrne, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

“From a mid-level point of view, it’s really, really tough, and I feel like we have a big conundrum,” says Byrne, whose roster includes Bastille, Blur, and Catfish and the Bottlemen. “There is no live business without artists and audiences, and we shouldn’t be hammering fans to make that make sense. There needs to be something done in order to be able to invest and drive culture because, ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.”

As mid-level acts rely on touring for their income, one potential safeguard being touted is for collection societies to consider providing breaks for mid-sized shows. “We’re losing tours, events, and festivals because of the spiralling costs of everything, which in turn means the royalty societies will suffer exponentially. To protect themselves, as well as their members, they should consider some kind of discounted rate,” states one European festival executive.

“Everyone talks about grassroots touring being difficult, or the 1% at the top making too much, but the middle is where the crisis really is. And it’s the ancillary value of those bands not touring, or touring less, that’s the biggest problem. Unless the industry stimulates solutions to the mid-level of the market, we have a massive time bomb.”

Given the widening gap between the superstars and the rest, One Fiinix Live founder Jon Ollier questions whether “boom and bust” would be a more apt description of the modern circuit.

“It feels to me like it’s becoming harder and harder for artists to reach a point where they actually make a profit on touring,” he offers. “It’s either massive and it makes money, or it’s small and it’s not.

“You’re not seeing those artists get up to 3,000-cap level, stay there, and churn that over as their career. You’re seeing them blow through that barrier into arenas and make money, or struggle underneath that.”

Finland-based Fullsteam founder Rauha Kyyrö agrees it is becoming increasingly difficult to make money on shows below arena level.

“If we have enough touring on a club- and medium-size-level, we can probably cover our overheads and make it work somehow, but we will need the stadium [concerts], or very successful festivals, to make money,” she says. “Touring, for me, is more [for] artist development actually.

“That [200-300-cap club] level has always been about developing, but now it feels like you’re also just investing at the 1,500 [capacity level], instead of at least getting your costs covered.”

She adds: “I also own a management company, and not many of the artists make a lot of money on basic touring. Some do – the biggest ones make more money than ever – but I don’t see the ones that are still in the investing phase making a living out of it. That’s where you need to find someone to pay for it, I guess.”

Be that as it may, legendary agent and Independent Artist Group vice-chair Marsha Vlasic maintains the predicament does not represent uncharted waters for the sector.

“Way before the pandemic, even way before any economic problems, bands came and did 20to 30-city tours in a van and put the time and effort into it,” she recalls. “They stopped at every radio station and record store and promoted

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Magazine 29 Bread & Butter Touring_Feature
Paloma Faith sets out on an extensive UK tour in April © (creative commons)

Historically bolstered by cowboy western movies and the likes of US servicemen stationed around the world, country music has been something of a niche international genre. But now, with a multigenerational audience and impressive growth figures around the planet, country music is everywhere, with acts appearing on mainstream festival stages and selling out arenas. Gordon Masson reports.

With the likes of Beyoncé and Lana Del Rey set to release country music albums this year, countless million new fans will be switching on to the genre, further elevating its success both at home in the United States and around the world.

Statistics show that country music was the second most popular genre in the US last year, behind only pop and rock, while it also showed year-on-year sales and streaming growth of more than 20% in 2023, according to American publi-

cation Newsweek.

And that growth curve is being replicated internationally where promoters are exploiting newfound interest in the genre to organise concerts and festivals for a loyal fanbase, which is expanding rapidly with an eager – and younger – set of converts.

Underlining that progress, the streaming of country music in the UK has grown by 380% in the past five years, and one in every 100 tracks streamed there is reportedly a country song.

“The UK is one of the strongest international markets for country music, and it has been build-

TAKK had Brad Paisley at The Hall in Zurich in late February

ing steadily for many years, but most recently, we’ve seen an explosion in the genre with ticket sales doubling and tripling and several artists selling out UK arena shows in minutes, such as Morgan Wallen, Shania Twain, and Chris Stapleton, all of whom we work with,” says Anna-Sophie Mertens, VP touring for Live Nation UK.

“Morgan Wallen played his first European show last December at The O2 [arena], which sold out in minutes, and we are already able to bring him back to headline Hyde Park six months later; this simply underlines how fast country music is growing and the size of the audience it can now reach.”

The growth of the country genre in the UK has been helped by radio presenter Baylen Leonard, originally from Bristol, Tennessee – the birthplace of country music – but who has been living in London for the last 24 years.

While working at the BBC, Leonard recalls he always wanted to broadcast country music. “If it was a bank holiday and everybody else was away, they’d let me do a country show, which helped

32 Feature_Country State of Mind

them cotton on to the fact that country music was a thing, so I started doing that more on Radio 2 with Bob Harris and then moved into commercial radio when Absolute and Bauer launched their commercial radio country station,” he says.

“I’d also always wanted to do a festival, and somewhere along the way, I was linked up with U-Live and met [general manager] Dawn Jones, who I now do the Long Road Festival with. Dawn and U-Live are very robust and know what they are doing, because I’m not a promoter. But I do know the country music industry, so we trust each other and do our thing.”

Having launched the first event in 2018, Leonard reports that debut attracted about 12,000 fans. “In terms of looking at a heat map, the audience comes from all over the UK, and that was one of the reasons we located it in the Midlands so it was easily accessible, because lots of people come from Scotland and the likes of London, Bristol, and Birmingham. There are also a chunk of people that will fly over from Europe.”

Non-English-speaking markets

Another European operation expanding its presence in the country scene is TAKK ab Entertainment, which formed in July last year when it brought together three generations of promoters – Swiss business pioneer André Béchir, TAKK Productions founder Sebastien Vuignier, and IQ new boss Théo Quiblier.

“André promoted all the major country artists back in the years, including Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, The Chicks, Willie Nelson, and many more,” states Vuignier. “He was also doing a country music festival at the 12,000-cap Hallenstadion every year in the 1980s. This created a strong country music fanbase in Switzerland, which we can still count on today.

“We strongly believe in the genre, and we put a lot of effort into convincing artists and entourages to include Switzerland in future tours. Thanks to a strong fanbase, we are able to reach really good figures, and we recently had sold out shows with Luke Combs and Brad Paisley, for instance.”

Across the border in Germany, Wizard Promotions is another long-term specialist. Speaking to IQ from Nashville, Wizard managing director Oliver Hoppe says that country music has been the company’s second-biggest genre, after rock, for many years.

“It’s interesting in Europe, where now you have Live Nation coming in strong, and AEG is building good things, but we’ve been doing country for a long time – we promoted Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks back in the day, and we did Brad Paisley’s first show in Germany,” says Hoppe.

“Back in 2014, the Country Music Association [CMA] decided it was going to put a bigger focus on Europe, and that’s ramped things up, but we’ve been working with country acts long before that. At the moment, the market is quite strong, and most acts come back to Germany and do better figures each time.”

Further north, Live Nation Norway’s Vegard Storaas is also following a long tradition of country music promoters. “Our company founder, Thousands of professionals read IQ every day. Make sure you get the whole picture…

Magazine 33 Country State of Mind_Feature
Barnaby at the WiZink Center

Having given up his native England in the 1980s, Barnaby Harrod enjoyed a successful decade in a punk band, before fate – and love – saw him pursuing a backstage role. Now celebrating 25 years of Mercury Wheels, he (with the guidance of wife, Elie) has become one of Spain’s top promoters. Gordon Masson discovers ten of the key lessons learned by Barnaby during his fascinating career.

orn in Cambridge, Barnaby Harrod spent his first four years in the northern English city of Newcastle before the family returned south to London, where he stayed until the age of nine.

“We then moved to Oxford, but we moved back to London when I was 13, so I spent all my teenage years around Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road,” he tells IQ.

And it was there where his love for music blossomed. “I was born in 1965, so I was 11 in 1976 when punk broke,” he says. “My uncle took me to see my first gig when I was 12: the Boomtown Rats, with Bob Geldof, and it was amazing. Just going to that one gig got me into music forever, and I started listening to the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and the Clash, as well as going to gigs in London, in 1977, 78, 79, as a teenager.”

While he wasn’t necessarily academic at school, Barnaby was a promising footballer, but punk rock soon took over his life. “I got into the first 11 football team in my penultimate year, but in my final year, they put me back into the second 11 because by that time I was too much into music, having a drink down the pub, and enjoying myself.”

Always ahead of his time, Barnaby took a gap year when he left school. “I pulled on a backpack and went to South America – I was 18 – and I

went to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. You couldn’t go to Argentina at that time if you were English because it was just after the Falklands War.” However, armed with the rudimentary Spanish he had learned at school, that adventurous trip planted a hispanophile seed, and on his return to the UK, he enrolled at University College London to study Modern Iberian Latin American Studies.

Studies can map your path in life

“When we lived in Oxford, my mother always had lodgers. They were mostly students, but one of our lodgers – Philip Lloyd-Bostock – was a Spanish don, and he was the one who got me interested in Spanish. He was a wonderful man, and he inspired me to learn Spanish and read Spanish literature, which completely changed my life.”

In his second year at university, he completed a four-month exchange course in Córdoba. “I loved it, and I connected straightaway with the Spanish people. When I went on Interrail with my friends, I always felt like a tourist in France and Italy and Greece. But as soon as I got into Spain, I felt instantly at home. That’s been the way I felt about Spain from the very beginning.”

Disillusioned by university, Barnaby poured himself into music, joining a pub band in Lon-

don called The Pleasure Splinters. “We never did anything, but I played bass and sang a bit of backing vocals. Then I joined another band, the Disco Dagos, where I played a bit of guitar, but they didn’t really come to anything either.”

But the pull of Spain was too much to ignore and because his birthday coincided with the running of the bulls in Pamplona, he decided that’s what he should do, having read about the event in Ernest Hemingway’s Fiesta

Taking a risk can pay off immeasurably

Displaying the steely nerve that every promoter requires, he took £100 that his father had gifted him for his birthday and took a risk. “I went to the Golden Horseshoe Casino on Shaftesbury Avenue (London), played roulette, and walked out with £1,000. And the next morning, I went to a travel agent and bought a flight to Barcelona because that was the nearest place to Pamplona.”

Having met a couple of friendly Pamplona locals, he found himself staying in a flat overlooking part of the bull run. And then came the day when he joined the spectacle. “It was absolutely terrifying,” he states. “At the bottleneck that enters the bullring, I managed to catch my hand against a gate, and I snapped my little finger. So, a few hours later I was in hospital with my fractured finger while others were there, covered in blood,” he laughs. “But I had a wonderful time and at that point everything seemed a bit aimless in the UK, so I thought I’d try to move to Spain.”

Ever practical, he returned to the UK to undertake a course teaching English as a foreign language, which was his only weapon when he relocated to Madrid in March 1989. “I actually thought of going to Barcelona, but I was friends with Robin Wills, who was the guitarist in a band called the Barracudas, and he told me that Madrid was more rock and roll – more nightlife, more bars, more fun, so I took his advice.”

Wills also put Barnaby in touch with a DJ called Kike Turmix. “He was also the singer for Thousands of professionals read IQ every day. Make sure you get the whole picture…

Magazine 45



As one of the biggest arena acts on the planet, The 1975 have been making headlines wherever they go for the past 20 years. Having just brought the curtain down on their third consecutive year on the road, their fanbase continues to grow, making their efforts to rewrite the rulebooks on sustainable touring all the more impressive. Derek Robertson learns just what it takes to take such a cultural phenomenon on the road.

Can you have too much of a good thing? Clearly, The 1975 think not. For an A-list arena band, they have been remarkably prolific – aside from releasing an album every two years since 2016, they’ve also toured behind them relentlessly: 18 months and 150 shows for I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It; a 24-month world tour behind Music For Cars; and a seven-leg, 96-date stint doing their At Their Very Best show. And barely a month after that wrapped on the 13th of August 2023, they were back on the road in Atlanta starting Still… At Their Very Best – another 66date, worldwide jaunt – in support of their fifth studio album, Being Funny In A Foreign Language Even taking into account the enforced breaks during the pandemic, that’s quite a workload – particularly when you consider some of the bands’ struggles with mental health and the pernicious effects of fame. Yet manager Jamie Oborne says that after the Music For Cars tour was interrupted by lockdowns (while first rescheduled, the remaining shows for that tour were ultimately cancelled), “we collectively had a desire to

tour, and Matty (Healy, frontman) was very excited about doing a show that was ‘different’ to what people expected or had seen in an arena before. It felt like the right time to get back on the road.”

Work it real good

“The boys love to work,” says Maarten Cobbaut, tour manager. “The first real break they had from their intense schedule was the pandemic, but within a week of restrictions being lifted and everything, they were back in the studio working on new music. They are just so passionate about what they do and put so much of themselves into the music and these shows.”

And these shows for Still… At Their Very Best are, unsurprisingly, fairly close in terms of concept, setup, and logistics as the At Their Very Best show. “An evolution, not a revolution,” as Oborne puts it. “It was part of the same cycle, but so much had happened since the tour commenced that Matty felt a creative need to highlight this

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Magazine 55
Matty Healy atop the production’s centrepiece house in Portland, Oregon last December Photography © Jordan Curtis Hughes



WME agents buying drinks? Yes, of course we’ll all be at the agency’s Happy Hour! The UK has the bragging rights for the next 12 months after emerging triumphant in the 2024 Match of the (Light) Year at The Hive Stadium in North London MGR associate partner Sunei Shin was one of the lucky winners at this year’s Nikos Fund Grand Prize Draw Team ILMC Referee Tom Brint congratulates Sandeep Singh (Athena Events Venue) and Johanna Lange (white label eCommerce) in the wee small hours of Thursday morning, as the duo emerged victorious from the ‘This is Planet Turf’ Table Football Tournament The O2 arena’s Christian D’Acuña and Solo Agency’s Jen Walker enjoyed the ‘We Have Lift-Off’ Opening party Ukrainian delegates enjoyed meeting friends old and new at the Latin Live Happy Hour. Music Saves UA was ILMC’s designated charity for 2024 Good things come in threes. Scottish delegates Honey Keenan (High Five Management), Elspeth Gower (5000 MGMT). and Kathryn Dryburgh (ATC Live) lit up the room at the ‘Mission Accomplished’ Closing Drinks TAG’s Kel Hayden and Tom Green scour the Nine Kings Foyer for the best networking opportunities Someone is going to be disappointed… seven people in the photo, but the prize for the winning team at the Futures Forum Pub Pop Quiz was for six VIP tickets to see Troye Sivan at OVO Arena Wembley

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