Paperlate: Why bands can't always play your hometown

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My tour in December will stretch well into next year. My German agent is working on dates in the next few months and will take offers that make sense for us to play. Some people keep asking about Ireland. The last time I played in Dublin on the Fishheads Club tour, I pulled less than 150 people. I played Belfast on the same tour and had about the same attendance. These numbers don’t support a full electric tour and, as I have had no offers from Irish promoters yet, it’s highly unlikely at this point that I will get over the water. I’m sorry, this isn’t through choice.

There’s talk about a South American tour but it all comes down to numbers and if they support all the logistics, wages, travel, etc. It’s the same in North America where the bureaucracy and legal requirements are so overwhelming, the distances so huge and the costs so high it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to make sense of that commitment. It’s all very well a couple of people writing from a city asking for a gig but the promoters, venues and I need a lot more people to make a show happen.

I remember on the Moveable Feast tour there was “uproar” among Spanish fans when I didn’t replace the postponed Madrid and Barcelona shows. I made the effort and the circus drove hundreds of miles over four days to make them happen. I played to less than 750 people across the two cities and barely broke even, even with merch sales. I can’t afford to take chances, the promoters can’t afford to lose money, the venues want safe bets and I have to be realistic no matter how much either I, or a few dedicated fans, want a show to happen in a particular city.

If I won EuroMillions, I could afford to play in places I’ve always wanted to without the stress of keeping a circus financially operational and nearly losing my house, as I’ve come close to in the past. Until then, I’m in the hands of an agent who gathers deals that make sense. Please try and understand what it takes to operate a tour. A Feast of Consequences sold around 25,000 copies worldwide. For an independent label in this day and age that’s pretty good going. But to put that in perspective, if I sold that many in North America alone, a tour there may have a chance. I didn’t. Most of those sales were in Europe and even in some countries there I struggle to get gigs.

I’m not complaining as I’m pretty happy with my lot and accept where my career is now. I understand some of you are frustrated at not being able to see live shows near you but I’m sorry there has to be a reality check. If there are no offers, no promoters and limited demand outside a small fan base it won’t happen no matter how much people complain. I’m 59 now, not that old but old enough to feel the strain of touring and in the last year it’s been a sair fecht. Be thankful I’m still planning gigs somewhere.

Thanks for all your support, it’s sincerely appreciated.

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