Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 30/4/2009 (4287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WHAT the heck is going on with the blistering pace of big concerts in Winnipeg?
Country superstar Keith Urban's September show at the MTS Centre is expected to be a quick sellout when tickets open to the masses Friday morning.
The incomparable Leonard Cohen brings his brilliant show here tonight, and enduring local dinosaurs Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings have just trumpeted a joint gig for June 30.
AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart have recently entered the fray, and an announcement of another major show -- rumoured to be an Aug. 7 visit from Aerosmith and ZZ Top -- at Canad Inns Stadium is expected early next week.
Are touring musicians so dense they don't know there's a recession going on? Have fears of swine flu affected their judgment, if not their bowels?
Apparently Manitoba is rolling in money, according to Kevin Donnelly, the MTS Centre's senior vice-president and general manager.
"The concert business can be divided in two," he says. "Canada and the rest of the planet."
Western Canada, in particular, is going great guns, Donnelly says, while the U.S., predominantly the south and Detroit, is sucking wind.
"At this point, I'm expecting another banner year. I won't say a record, but it will be as strong as we've ever seen." A top official with the country's main promoter, Vancouver-headquartered Live Nation Canada, concurs with Donnelly.
"Business has been great," says Ian Low, a Transcona boy who has risen to become the monolith's executive vicepresident for talent in Canada.
"Six of AC/DC's 15 North American stadium shows are in Canada. We sold out all four in the West in less than an hour."
Locally, while some acts have not been sales barnburners (Diana Krall, Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot), Donnelly insists he has not had so many sellouts on the books in one year.
The Eagles and Nickelback recently filled the 15,000-seat Phone Booth. All 41,000 tickets for AC/DC are gone, and Coldplay, the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift and Metallica tickets can be found only on the scalpers' website nearest you.
Fleetwood Mac, which went on sale last weekend, will be sold out before the June 6 show date. Keith Urban tickets, too, will be hard to come by (at their retail price) after Friday.
"The shock value of the $100 ticket is absolutely gone," Donnelly notes.
"That lack of resistance helps a lot in keeping up the flow of TripleA shows."
He points out that the strong business is not limited to rock concerts, or even music shows. The Harlem Globetrotters, a monster truck rally, and WWE wrestling attracted huge crowds. This past winter's Disney on Ice show did the best here it's ever done.
And let's not forget the arena's principal tenants, the Moose. Spokesman Scott Brown says the team's playoff games are drawing twice as well as anyone else in the American Hockey League, and this after finishing first in ticket sales for the regular season.
Meanwhile, life seems rosy for the establishment arts. Manitoba Opera has essentially sold out its three-show run of Madama Butterfly (which ends Friday at the 2,200-seat Centennial Concert Hall).
And Manitoba Theatre Centre is predicting big crowds for its national headline-earning production of The Boys in the Photograph, which officially opens, opposite Cohen, tonight.
At the 1,600-seat Burton Cummings Theatre, general manager Wayne Jackson reports that the ceaseless activity at the MTS Centre is not sinking his ship.
"We're holding steady with where we've been the last two or three years," says Jackson, whose venue has played host to this week's Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Indigenous Festival.
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"The big road shows are our bread and butter, and if we can do 40 a year, we're fine."
Sunday's concert by the British post-punk band Bloc Party sold out in 10 minutes, he says, and Wednesday's forthcoming concert by Toronto rapper k-os is also expected to do well.
Mind you, k-os seats are technically free, as long as you make a "donation," in exchange for the concert, a T-shirt and a CD.
"That's his way to get around Ticketmaster and high ticket prices," Jackson says. "He's saying 'support me if you like my music.'" As for the perennial burr of online scalping, Donnelly warns, it will not disappear.
"All cynicism and criticism aside, Ticketmaster does a remarkable job," he says. "We almost never have to deal with a duplicate ticket."
Another day, another concert announcement
Major shows to date in 2009 at the MTS Centre:
Jeff Dunham, Brad Paisley, Eagles, Beyoncé, Nickelback, New Kids on the Block, Gordon Lightfoot, Diana Krall, Celtic Thunder.
Already on sale: Leonard Cohen (tonight), Montgomery Gentry (May 8), Bill Gaither (May 17), Il Divo (May 22), Jeff Foxworthy (May 30), John Fogerty (June 1), Fleetwood Mac (June 6), Coldplay (June 15), Offspring (June 17), Rock on the Range (June 27, Canad Inns Stadium), Slayer and Megadeth (June 29), Bachman-Cummings (June 30), Jonas Brothers (July 5), Taylor Swift (July 11), No Doubt (July 13), Rod Stewart (Aug. 17), AC/ DC (Aug. 22 -- Canad Inns Stadium), Daniel O'Donnell (Aug. 24), Keith Urban (Sept. 26), Metallica (Oct. 12), Blue Man Group (Oct. 16).
Tickets sold to MTS Centre non-sport shows in 2008: 385,000 (ranked No.
19 in the world by industry publication Pollstar).
Tickets sold in 2007: 355,000 -- No.
Tickets sold in 2006: 295,000
Tickets sold in 2005: 338,000
At the Winnipeg Arena in its final year, 2004: 88,700