Stevie G: Roll on 2022 and festival season in Cork

There's big confidence in Cork as a gig and big concert venue, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Stevie G: Roll on 2022 and festival season in Cork

Deadmau5, who plays Cork next summer

While we are still working out how live gigs and clubs are gonna work properly in the near future, many promoters are looking ahead to 2022 and the summer festival season.

Surely we will be back at full tilt by then?

The big guns certainly think so and recently there have been some big announcements regarding outdoor live shows in Ireland, featuring mainly road tested music industry titans with a huge fanbase. It takes a very big act to sell out a stadium, but many of the more interesting bookings will come during festival season.

Some of these festivals will be raring to go and will come back wounded but refreshed in a very competitive market. In Cork, Indiependence have built a strong brand with huge local community support, and they will be greatly boosted by the recent news that their festival will continue at its Mitchelstown site. It was originally gonna be moved to Cork city, but they have sorted out an agreement with the site owner to continue in Mitchelstown. This is its home, and the recent LPS series of Indiependence live shows down there illustrated once again the bond between the locals and the festival.

Other festivals and shows have been announced too, and Live at the Marquee and Independent Park will continue to run either rescheduled or new shows in Cork next summer. Many of these shows, such as the Chemical Brothers, Orbital, Deadmau5, are selling well, and they should interest some readers of this column.

Our actual events centre is no nearer ever becoming a reality so it’s important that MCD and Aiken are still expressing confidence in Cork as a destination for big gigs. The fact that they happen in venues that are restricted to the summer greatly limits the choice of artists on offer, but we’ve had some big names already and hopefully these shows will continue to bridge the gap for bigger shows here.

Other than the Marquee and Independent Park, we’ve not got permanent venues suitable enough to hold the big names, and even the medium sized venues are restrained by other commitments. Cork Opera House is a terrific venue but it’s already committed to hosting other shows all year round, and moving the seats for concerts can be very expensive there. City Hall is another venue that can potentially be used but even in non Covid times it’s very hard to book, and a bar and other amenities have to be brought in especially for the event. At the moment it’s a vaccination centre and it looks like it will continue to be so for the short to medium future.

Other venues of this size don’t really exist in Cork any more, and the closure of the Savoy a few years ago was a blow to the shows that could hold around 1,000 people. Cyprus Avenue have stepped up with an increased capacity and much more suitable venue for big shows, and they are booked months in advance now with a big line-up of names. There are other city centre options, including Live at St Lukes, the Crane Lane, Coughlans, and we still have the Everyman and the Triskel at times too, most particularly at the jazz festival, where they run excellent programmes. Overall, the venue situation could be much better, but hopefully the ones we have will thrive as we emerge from this industry lockdown.

The enterprising approach to booking temporary venues that seemed to flourish this year through government and city support is something I hope will continue pandemic or no pandemic. Some of the best shows I was at this year were in Fitzgerald Park and Ballinlough Park, and both Cork City Council and the Good Room deserve praise for these summer sessions. The Electric Picnic, It Takes a Village, All Together Now, Forbidden Fruit, Longitude and Body and Soul, are just a few big festivals which should be returning in 2022, and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. It will also be interesting to see what acts will get booked.

Some of our own artists, such as Denise Chaila, have greatly enhanced their reputations during the last 18 months, and will surely be high up the bills and in big demand. It’s gonna be a new era with new stars too, and we’ll all be curious to see how things work out. Who knows? Next summer will tell a lot!

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