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Big-Name Promoter Discusses Summer Gigs
Posted by editor_usa

Wednesday 26
April 2006 @ 18:16

When Sir Elton found that his fans were being forced to travel hundreds of miles to see his concerts, he decided the answer was to go to them.

And that, the singer-songwriter’s long-time promoter Ben Martin told the Echo, is how the Rocket Man’s famous sports stadium gigs came into being.

Martin is currently working on a series of 12 EJ shows this summer which will climax with a massive concert for up to 20,000 people at Bournemouth’s Fitness First Football Stadium.

Just a few years ago such a mammoth event would have been unheard of. But since Elton pioneered the idea of playing stately homes in 2000 the idea has grown and extended to football and cricket grounds.

“The fact is that because of the size of the production and the number of people who want to see him there is only a handful of indoor venues in the UK we can take Elton to.

“The whole point of the shows at football and cricket grounds is that he goes to the people, to places where you wouldn’t usually be able to see him.”

 Martin added,”He’s not only a phenomenal musician and incredibly charitable with his work for the AIDS foundation, but he has taken the idea of touring to a whole new level. He pioneered the idea of going to the fans.”

Martin, of Marshall Arts, says that Bournemouth – one of two South Coast concerts on the tour (the other is Brighton) – was chosen because of the success of last summer’s concert at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton.

“That was a phenomenal show. There was such a fantastic reaction that we really wanted go back to the South Coast.”

He adds that fans across the South are ”lapping up” the chance to see the star in action again. Both Bournemouth and Brighton have sold in excess of 15,000 tickets.

With a maximum audience capacity set at 20,000, this means that the Fitness First concert is on course for a sell-out and has already been expanded to a full stadium production.

Having worked with the superstar since the late 1990s, Ben Martin is used to the military-style logistics involved in setting up huge concerts which take a crew of 60 five solid days to construct.

With eight trucks containing gear for the production and six more just to carry the 120 tonnes of steel that it takes to build the stage, it’s a huge task.

With 100 lights, nearly 9,000 metres of cable and two huge generators pumping 44,000 watts of power, it’s a job that takes a team of dedicated professionals countless hours of work long before Elton arrives for his two-and-a-half-hour show.

“I’ve been working on this tour since October last year, which was when we started looking at venues,” adds Martin.

At that stage, he says, the questions that needed answering for each potential concert location revolved around how many seats they could accommodate, possible problems of getting the stage in and the impact of the show on the local environment and residents.

“There are some places you just can’t play because they’re surrounded by housing and licensing issues will be considerable.”

At Bournemouth, he says, residents living near the stadium have been consulted and even invited to the show.

“We’ve made sure that they’ve been involved with all the planning and that there has been allocation of tickets so if they do wish to come along we can thank them in a small way.”

Even though he regularly works with popular acts like  Paul McCartney, Britney Spears and Mary J Blige, Ben says that an EJ production is always a special event.

A music business professional who has seen countless gigs, he says: “When you’re working with artists it’s sometimes very difficult to watch a show from end to end but with Elton’s concerts you just stop what you’re doing and think `Wow!’ He never ceases to amaze me.”

Elton plays The Fitness First Stadium on Saturday, July 1. For tickets contact these 24-hour ticket hotlines numbers: Ticketmaster 0871 230 2637; See Tickets 0870 161 2123; BIC 0870 111 3000; Ticketline 0870 444 5556. For Hospitality Packages, call on 01202 726 302 or email