Adam Wilkes, the CEO for AEG Asia, spoke at the All That Matters entertainment conference in Singapore last week.
He mentioned Elton's upcoming tour of New Zealand and Australia, and said,“We are playing all of the markets, multiple times.”
As far back as 2015, promoters, including Rocket Music Entertainment Group, began hatching a smaller-town touring strategy for Australia, recalled Matthew Lazarus-Hall, who was Chugg’s CEO before being recently named as AEG’s Senior VP for Asia. “In the 2017 tour we specifically didn’t go into any capital cities, except Hobart,” he said. “We just kind of did unique things to prove that it could work.”
In one case the promoters booked Elton in Mackay, a sugar mining town, and sold out all 15,000 tickets at the venue there, according to Lazarus-Hall. The singer also played in Cairns, even further north in Queensland, for 23,000 people, on a cricket field.
Chugg and Keith Bradley, Elton’s tour director from Rocket for some three decades, outlined the vision. At the outset, Lazarus-Hall recalled Bradley walking into his office and throwing down a map of Australia with red dots on it indicating places he thought the singer should tour.
AEG came into the picture after Michael Chugg and former partner Michael Gudinski, who founded Frontier Touring Company with Michael in 1979, formed a joint venture in March. A month later, Frontier teamed up with AEG Presents, which bought 50% of the Australian company.
As for Australia and New Zealand, Wilkes isn’t ruling out the possibility that the tour could grow yet again.
“It’s 40 dates so far. Who knows, maybe there are some other towns we haven’t found yet.”