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London Could Have Blown Olympic Showcase

12:01 PM Monday 2/27/12 |   |

Live Nation says that greater restrictions on live shows in London’s Hyde Park alongside the Summer Olympics could have scuttled the city’s chances of showcasing itself during the Games.

  • Rod Stewart

    Hard Rock Calling, Hyde Park, London, U.K. 
    June 26, 2011

    (AP Photo)

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Faced with noise complaints and a Westminster Council reportedly intent on cutting the decibel levels to placate the park’s wealthy neighbours, Live Nation told a Feb. 17 hearing that the free-entry events the company is staging in London during the Games are costing £12.5 million ($19.8 million).

LN isn’t being paid to run the free events, although it will have commercial rights to hospitality packages, food and drink concessions and merchandising opportunities.

If the mega shows with such acts as Madonna, Rihanna, Bruce Springsteen and Drake were in jeopardy, LN told the licensing hearing it would have to drop the other events it’s planning alongside the Olympics.

Apparently fearing a standoff or having the capital’s Olympic spectacular compromised, London Mayor Boris Johnson admitted to being “extremely concerned” about the situation and hoped it could be resolved.

“I want to see Madonna in Hyde Park,” he told London’s Evening Standard. “Westminster is right to respect its residents, but they also have a responsibility for the economic vitality of the capital overall.

  • Madonna

    NFL Super Bowl XLVI, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
    February 5, 2012

    (AP Photo)

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“Large-scale music events like the Hyde Park concerts make a massive contribution to London’s economy, underpinning the city's reputation for great music and as a global leader at staging world-class events,” he said.

LN chief ops officer John Probyn, who runs his company’s summer shows in Hyde Park, said Westminster’s decision not to cut the sound levels was “good news for the thousands of Londoners and visitors from overseas.”

It also means the 18 Olympics concerts – including 15 free events, the opening and closing ceremonies and the torch relay – can also go ahead.

However, victory appears to have come at a cost, as next year the maximum number of concerts is being reduced from 13 to nine.

There will almost certainly be close monitoring of the noise coming from the park during the concerts.

Last year the 11 concerts LN staged in the park resulted in 24 serious breaches of the 75-decibel limit, according to measurements taken in nearby Park Lane.

Probyn is now left with a balancing act. This summer he’ll need to ensure the noise levels don’t upset those living in the millionaire rows around the park, while convincing acts and agents that they needn’t fear their performances will be too restricted.

Unsubstantiated reports claim that some acts are already shying away from Hyde Park, which has as low a maximum volume level as anywhere in the UK, although it’s clearly London’s most prestigious venue.

John Giddings, agent for The Rolling Stones, U2 and Madonna, who plays the park July 17, told Pollstar that further noise restrictions could lead to him advising acts not to play the venue.

“I don’t think the sound in the park is particularly loud and lowering it would be unsatisfactory for the audience,” he said. “When top international acts play in London they want to feel that they can give their very best performance.”


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