The Rolling Stones concerts in Moncton and Halifax have started a new trend in the Maritime music scene: the megaconcert. A megaconcert usually takes place at an outdoor venue with the goal of attracting tens of thousands of concertgoers. What distinguishes it from a festival is that a significant, internationally-recognized headlining band is the focus of almost all of the attention and promotion.
This year, there are megaconcerts already announced for New Brunswick (Faith Hill/Tim McGraw, Magnetic Hill, Moncton Sept. 1) and P.E.I. (Aerosmith, Driving Park Entertainment Centre, Charlottetown, July 21). However, in spite of the best efforts of Donald K. Donald and the folks at Trade Centre Atlantic, there has yet to be a megaconcert announced for Halifax. The most we’ve heard is that in March HRM city council approved, in principle, two concerts to be held at the Halifax Commons – one on August 18, the other on September 1 (link). It’s almost certain, however, that the September 1 one was the Faith Hill/Tim McGraw concert that Halifax was competing with Moncton for the rights to host and lost, while the August 18 show might have been an attempt to get another high-profile band that already said no (see below).
So given that a) the acts most suitable for a megaconcert are pop/rock acts or big-name country (of which the biggest country tour has already been claimed), because they appeal to a wide cross-section of people; and b) there are only a limited number of rock/pop bands big enough to sell out 40-60,000 tickets in a market like Halifax, I figure I’m going to give Halifax some help and handicap some of the potential megaconcert headliners that could maybe/almost/but probably not end up playing here this summer (complete with, in the fine spirit of entertainment journalism, some of the most awful music/song puns and references I could concoct).
Why it could happen:The half-Who of Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were long rumoured as one of the bands for the Rolling Stones bill last year, and are the only band on this list that we can confirm has been sought out by Trade Centre Atlantic for this year.
Why it won’t happen:Because The Who turned us down; reports leaked to the Daily News last week indicated that the Who had decided not to include Halifax on their touring roster despite offers made by Donald K. Donald and co.
Odds:Don’t get fooled again – this ain’t happening.
Why it could happen:This is the biggest reunion tour of 2007, a chance to see one of the greatest bands of the late 70s/early 80s together again. And these guys are playing just about everywhere.
Why it won’t happen:We kind of missed the boat on this one already: the Police are booked solid in North America through to the start of August and then will be in Europe until well into the Fall. Fitting in a Halifax date is almost entirely impossible.
Odds:The only place you’ll be hearing “Roxanne” this year is on your radio.
Why it could happen:JT is probably the only pop star working today who is starting to build the kind of crossover appeal that Prince had in the 1980s, and his touring show is getting rave reviews. He’s current taking a break from the road, but will be touring in August/September, including three Canadian dates in Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg.
Why it won’t happen:His current show is designed for arenas, not the outdoors. Plus, there’s only a couple of slots around the three Canadian shows where an affordable trip to Halifax could be done, and is he mega enough?
Odds:Don’t cry a river just yet – this could happen, but keep some tissues on-hand for when it doesn’t work out.
Why it could happen:the man is (finally) cool again after blowing everyone away at the Super Bowl. Plus, his stint in Vegas at his nightclub is coming to an end in April and there are rumours that he might have something up his sleeve – an album or tour – for the summer.
Why it won’t happen:It probably won’t be a tour.
Odds:You’ll have to party like its 1999 sans the Purple One this year.
Why it could happen:Paul has gotten rave reviews for his concert tours these last few years. He also just signed as the first artist on Starbucks’ new record label, Hear Music, and will be releasing his new album Memory Almost Fullon June 5. There are rumours of Macca doing a UK stadium tour this summer.
Why it won’t happen: There are currently no plans for a North American leg of said tour.
Odds:It will be a long and winding road to get McCartney here; if he announces some US dates, things might become way more possible.
Why it could happen: The band performed at the 2006 Juno Awards in Halifax, so we’re on their radar more than a lot of other small cities. Plus, they’re one of the few “modern” acts that could pull off the kinds of crowd numbers that we’re looking at to make a megaconcert.
Why it won’t happen:After a short Latin America tour last month, the band has retreated into the studio with Brian Eno to record their new album; it’s unlikely they’ll be touring again until 2008.
Odds:Don’t set your clocks to this one.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Why it could happen:A grassroots campaign was launched to try and bring the band here last year, so there’s clearly a market for them. Anthony, John, Flea and Chad are about to take their Stadium Arcadiumtour on several dates in Australia and Japan, and currently have no touring plans announced for the summer months.
Why it won’t happen:The band could very well take the summer off after a long haul in the fall/winter supporting the album.
Odds:The band probably won’t be road trippin’ our way anytime soon, but they’re more likely than many on this list.
Beyonce or Gwen Stefani or Nelly Furtado
Why it could happen: These are the three biggest female solo performers going right now, and all three of them are on tour this year and have included lots of Canadian dates.
Why it won’t happen:Like JT, all three women are playing mostly arenas, not outdoor shows. Also like JT, I also have my doubts that any of these women, on their own, are enough of a draw to be a megaconcert; they’d have to be paired with a strong supporting lineup.
Odds:Nay to the first two, and if Nelly comes, it seems far more suitable for a two-night Metro Centre stint than to invest the money in a megaconcert.
Why it could happen:John just announced a few individual tour dates in the States that work around his Red Piano show in Las Vegas, and none of the dates are in big, traditional cities. It shows a willingness to play new places.
Why it won’t happen:He’s doing the Red Piano through 2008; what are the chances that he’ll be willing to leave it for a HUGE haul to little old Halifax?
Odds:Let the sun go down on this one.
Dave Matthews Band
Why it could happen:College kids love these guys. Plus, they just announced a big-time US tour for August/September.
Why it won’t happen:Does anyone other than college kids love these guys? More importantly, there are no Canadian dates on said tour, not to mention the fact that it’s pretty much full except for a small break in early September; these guys tour HARD.
Odds: The band won’t crash into us this year.
Why it could happen: While far less significant than the Police reunion, the Phil Collins-led version of Genesis is spending this fall touring North America, and has Canadian dates in early September.
Why it won’t happen: 1980s Genesis? Really? Even if Peter Gabriel had joined the band for the tour, Genesis are one of those bands that are really confined to their own time. Mega enough for a megaconcert today? Unlikely.
Odds: No land of confusion here – this is a no-go.
Why it could happen: Multiple act rock festivals used to be a yearly event here in Halifax in the late-90s, early-00s, but have since fallen off the radar. Pairing several smaller acts together is probably going to make for a more affordable and multi-faceted concert experience – and this would be a great way for the White Stripes to live up to their promise.
Why it won’t happen: Without a mega headlining act, the show would probably be relegated to Citadel Hill, and it sounds as if concert organizers REALLY want another Commons show.
Odds: Significantly better than almost anything on this list.
Why it could happen: Because it doesn’t seem as if anyone wants to / is able to come to Halifax this year to make a megaconcert worth it. And because we already got bested by our neighbours.
Why it won’t happen: Because somebody out there loves us? Or is willing to take pity on us. Because of the prowess of the Double Donald?
Odds: Depressingly good.
Edit: After posting this, I spent a bit of time on my lunchbreak researching this topic a bit more and came across the memorandum of understanding signed by the City of Halifax and Events Halifax (the Trade Centre Atlantic group that promotes and encourages these events) as to how future concerts will work in Halifax. It makes it very clear that concerts with a projected audience 10,000 or lower will be held at the Metro Centre; concerts seeking 10-30,000 people will be held at Citadel Hill, and the Halifax Commons will be used for megaconcerts that aim to have 40,000 or more people show up. Here’s a direct quote from the document:
Events Halifax has approached staff with a number of potential major outdoor concerts for 2007. Some of these concerts, should they materialize, would be more conducive to the Common while others would be more suitable for Citadel Hill or other smaller sites.
So perhaps my “Shit All” scenerio isn’t nearly as likely as I feared; perhaps it’s just we’ll be getting something more festival-y than mega.
You can read/download the entire MOU here.
Edit 2: Ugh, I’m such a moron – I spent the past few days brainstorming this post and I completely forgot to include one of my original big names: U2, arguably the biggest rock band in the world! Thanks to Keri for pointing out my error. On Bono and the boys…they’re currently in the studio recording their new album with Rick Rubin, but it doesn’t sound like they’re that far along. It will probably be a late Fall release, meaning that the world tour is coming in 2008. Next year, perhaps?