Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

Marshall Ruminates on Ticket Prices and Arena Amenities

30 Aug

Barrie Marshall, Rachel Thomas and Terry Pouchain backstage in the Paul McCartney camp at the Consol Energy Center (VT Photo).

REPORTING FROM PITTBURGH — Venues Today sat down with Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts, at the last booking of Paul McCartney’s 15-truck, eight-bus Up & Coming Tour Aug. 18 and 19 at the grand opening of the Consol Energy Center. Marshall, who sold 49 percent of his company to AEG, is a veteran of the industry and a free thinker, working with all promoters and several artists, chief among them being McCartney.

This is the last of Paul McCartney’s dates for this tour. How has it gone?

He played two Hollywood Bowls, Miami, Puerto Rico…25 shows since the beginning of the year, drawing 600,000 attendance. We work with all promoters. A promoter has to take great pride in what he or she does and live in the community. I think the independent promoter, who lives in the community, will come back. It will come with fresh music, different loyalties. Artists are very loyal to those who are with them when they are not successful.

The climate for touring is not good. Have you had to make any adjustments this year?

It’s not good, no. I think we all had a wakeup call. We’ve got to remember we’re in this business because we’re lucky enough to serve brilliant and talented artists and people are kind enough to pay quite a lot of money to see them. Music is memories, in my opinion. We have to remind ourselves we’re in an economic recession and most people have had a realignment of employment and revenues. Agents, artists, managers and promoters have to look at the ticket price and what’s affordable and readjust their thinking about the income that can be made. It’s an interesting problem because all artists try to achieve a better show than they played last time. They therefore usually look to high definition video and production levels to make it better for the audience, which is admirable. However, when you strip away the lights and the LED screens and all that, it’s all about the artist’s music. I think people go to see concerts to physically enjoy being in the same room with the artist. That’s what concerts are about, a pure relationship between the person and their artist.

How can we improve that relationship on tour?

One is to be clear what we charge for tickets and what the add-on charges are. Irving Azoff has put the Eagles out in an all-inclusive ticket like the old days. That’s not a bad idea. I did that in the old days and I’m certainly looking at it now. The issue is not necessarily the price of the ticket…it’s making it clear how much you’ve got to pay as a face value. This one is $250 down to $59.50, but that’s without the service fees. The facility fee here is five percent. I think it will be all inclusive in the future where I can make it work by sitting down with the people in charge and deciding what that number and what that fee are and then incorporating it into the ticket, hopefully using an economy of scale.

Has Paul cut back in any way on this tour?

Not really, yet. He’s very conscious of the downturn, but it hasn’t honestly affected his business. We’re proud to say he does give a great show, two and a half hours long every night and four decades of music. He is an event. He doesn’t play repetitively in the same markets. His main instruction is “Barrie, I want to go to new markets and new buildings I haven’t played before.” And here we are in Pittsburgh.

What are the pros of playing in a new building?

It’s exciting because people who go to concerts or sports events are being given a much better experience for the money. It’s great to open new buildings or be in early because in the last 15 years, new buildings have been designed not just for sports, but for music and sports, for entertainment in general, which has been a terrific change. Arenas are a challenge because they are trying to compete with theaters. In a theater, it’s an occasion. All arenas have lots of physical similarities, which is why production costs money – you are creating a theater inside the arena. One of Paul’s big things is, “I want the people in the nosebleed seats up in the back of the building to see me like I’m right next door to them.” Hence he has very large screens, larger than most, on his new show.

Are arenas themselves different and is your philosophy in touring different in different parts of the world?

Absolutely. When record companies were making a lot of money, they spent a decent proportion of it experimenting on new bands and made it back on the ones that made it. Now, music is sold on the Internet. The consumer makes up his own album. So when you promote a record or new body of work you have to take each country separately and work each country according to their culture, the way their music is portrayed on radio and television. The record companies used to put out albums internationally. Today, most records come out on different dates, often because the artist can make appearances live or with the media. It’s like movies, which require the major film stars to turn up for certain premieres. And France, for example, has a policy of only playing a certain amount of foreign music on their radio stations to protect their own culture. I think it’s maybe 60/40 in favor of their own artists. It’s allowed the local artists to prevail. When you go to China and some other countries, they don’t necessarily know the Beatles. It was a long time ago.

Has Paul played China?

No, but we’re looking at it; we’re looking at going. It’s up to Paul. He makes all his own decisions. It will be nice to go if the time is right and hopefully he may go.

What are the future plans for Paul?

This is the last show of the summer. There may be more dates. I’m going to stand below his window and see if he’ll come out and play some more. I’m sure there will be. He loves playing. This band is so harmonious, it’s a joy. He’s having a great time. And the other thing, and he’s always wanted this, he’s gaining a younger audience as well, which is great. — Linda Deckard

Contact: Barrie Marshall, +44-20-7586-3831

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Consol Energy Center Celebrates Its Coronation with Sir Paul

19 Aug

Gathered in the lobby a few hours before the Paul McCartney concert opens the arena are Liza Cartmell and Mike McDonald, Aramark; Jay Roberts, SMG GM at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh; Aramark's Dan Regan; and SMG's Hank Abate. The two sold out shows are the first for Consol Energy Center and the last on McCartney's U.S. tour.

REPORTING FROM PITTSBURGH, PA. — From the local art to the state-of-the-art, the excitement was palpable as Consol Energy Center here opened its doors for its first concert today, Aug. 18. Paul McCartney declared from the stage, “We’re the first people to play here and you are the first people to see people play here. That’s pretty cool.”

Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts, who has worked with McCartney for years, told Venues Today that McCartney likes to open new buildings. He’s always looking for new markets and new buildings because “people are being given a better experience for their money in a new arena,” Marshall said.

McCartney was set to play a second show Aug. 19, which concludes his “Up and Coming” summer tour which started in Phoenix and has drawn 600,000 people to 25 shows.

For Jay Roberts, general manager of Consol Energy Center for SMG, this day was a long time coming. He’s put in some very long days for six months, partly because he was still operating Mellon Arena, the old home to the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, at the same time he was opening the new $321 million arena.

Walking the floor before the opening with Liza Cartmell, president of Aramark Sports & Entertainment, was Aramark’s Dan Regan, and they were impressed. Cartmell pointed out the Brewhouse bar on the upper concourse, a pleasant space with a view of downtown Pittsburgh. It’s the kind of space not often seen on the upper levels, she said.

Angus cheeseburgers were selling for $5.75; Italian sausage, $5.50; grilled chicken sandwich, $6.75; Smith’s hot dog, $4.75 and chicken tenders and fries, $8.50. A Pizza Hut Pizza was $9; WingStreet wings, $9.75. A large draft beer retailed for $7.75; a regular draft beer, $5; a regular soda, $4.50; a bottled soda, $4.

The doors were held for 45 minutes because McCartney was late arriving from New York and couldn’t start his sound check until 5:30 p.m. The crowd gathered and when the doors finally opened, the concessions stands were slammed. The subsequent three-hour show had no intermissions, but people found time to buy food and drink.

Merchandise varied from an $85 leather jacket to $40 T-shirts to $20 mugs and programs.

McCartney’s tour arrived in 15 trucks and eight buses. The crew was returning to England Friday. No future tour plans have been announced.

Prior to today, they had hosted 15,000 people are various sneak-a-peek and VIP parties. Tonight was the big test and it did well. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Jay Roberts, (412) 804-7820; Liza Cartmell, (215) 238-3424; Barrie Marshall, +44 20-7586-3831

Sir McCartney to Open Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh

17 Jun

Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh

The brand new, state-of-the-art facility — the new home of the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins — will open to the sights and sounds of legendary former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney on Aug. 18. The new facility is the last remaining professional hockey arena to be opened following a string of new openings over the last decade, and the second-to-last professional sports arena behind the Amway Center in Orlando.

“It’s a very busy opening month,” said Director of Marketing Rob Goodman. In its first month, the new facility will host Lady Gaga, which also sold out almost immediately after going on sale, two nights of Spirit of America — a free, highly visual, live-action U.S. Army show, American Idol Live!, and Rush’s Time Machine Tour. “The first three shows in the building are sellouts.”

General Manager Jay Roberts is especially excited about the McCartney show as he considers him to be “the one that got away.” While working in operations for Mellon Arena — the facility that Consol Energy Center will be replacing — Roberts said they had a chance to host McCartney but couldn’t, due to lack of hanging capability.

“My GM, Hank Abate, came into my office and said we had the show and I just had to figure a way to hang it,” Roberts said. “For the first time, I had to tell him no, we can’t do it. So, it’s fitting that we are now opening the new Consol Energy Center with the one I could not hang at Mellon.”

The $321-million venue’s opening date was actually moved up a couple of weeks in order to accommodate McCartney and have the opportunity for the venue to feature him as its grand opening guest, Goodman said. Designer Populous and project manager Pittsburgh Arena Development plan to open the facility by mid-August. SMG will lead a local consortium to manage the facility.

Roberts said, for him, the highlights of the new venue are things that other venue managers probably take for granted, such as spacious rear loading docks and ample hanging grids, because these are things he has been surviving without at Mellon Arena for so many years.

Not only will the new building feature five loading docks and tons of power, but it will also have a half house and upper bowl curtain system, which will give them much more flexibility in events. Plus, Roberts continued, the open concourse design will work well for sporting events but will also improve sound quality for concerts.

The new center also boasts an incredible new HD video screen, Roberts said.

“We got to see it for the first time during the McCartney press conference last week. It’s just incredible how clear it is. I was 20 feet away and it looked like I was watching it from my living room,” he said.

The final event scheduled for Mellon Arena is a James Taylor and Carole King concert on June 26. King and Taylor performed together at the venue Feb. 26, 1971, so Roberts said it is fitting that they close down the old arena.

The old building is currently in the final stages of the historical review process and, depending on the outcome, is scheduled to be torn down to make way for new development. Mellon Arena was built in 1961.

“It was definitely time for a new arena,” Roberts said. — Lindsay Sandham

Interviewed for this article: Rob Goodman, (412) 642-1904; Jay Roberts, (412) 642-1893