Promoters Not Consulted Over Cancellation

The promoters of R.E.M..’s January 27th show in St. Petersburg say they weren’t consulted over the band’s decision to cancel and believe it would have been possible for the concert to go ahead.

Dmitry Zaretsky of Moscow-based SAV Entertainment and Vera Borina from Planet Plus, the local promoter, claim they weren’t informed the show wasn’t happening until after the group arranged to go on Russian TV and tell fans that its equipment trucks were delayed en route.

It would have been R.E.M.’s first show in the country and Bob Gold (Gold Artists Agency), the band’s European agent, told Pollstar, “Our equipment got held up at the border between Estonia and Russia for six hours.

“It was impossible to get the show up in time. It’s our belief that absolutely everything possible was done to expedite getting the gear through. It was just incredibly frustrating bureaucracy at the border.”

Crossing the border Estonia-Russia can be a notoriously lengthy process and some promoters advise taking a day off to ensure there’s time. But others say that’s not necessary and cite examples of acts that have played Helsinki and St. Petersburg back-to-back.

Borina said the show at the 9,500-capacity Ice Arena would have been close to selling out, adding that some fans made the nine-hour flight from Vladivostock and hundreds made the seven-hour overnight train ride from Moscow.

The equipment trucks arrived five hours before the doors were due to open and Zaretsky said that could have been delayed for another hour. He and Borina said they were not consulted on what was happening and found out after the band had already made up its mind.

“We would have tried to tell the band that it was still possible to do the show if we had known what was happening, but we weren’t asked. We’re unhappy as we would have made a profit, but now we have to deal with a loss. The audience would have been happy to wait,” Borina explained.

A note on the band’s Web site said, “After a great night in Tallinn and an all-night journey to St Petersburg in wintry conditions, R.E.M. greatly regrets having to cancel the show tonight in St Petersburg. Lengthy delays at the Estonia/Russia border caused our trucks, crew, and gear (sound, lights, instruments, and so forth) to arrive too late to mount the show.

“This is the first time since the widely chronicled 1995 tour that R.E.M. has had to cancel a show, and it is a major disappointment for the band not to be playing this particular city.”

The two previous shows at the 6,000-capacity Riga Kipsa Exhibition Hall (January 25th) and 8,500-capacity Tallin Saka Suurhall (26th) had both sold out, bringing the total of successive sellouts to a dozen.

The band is still adding dates to its summer outdoor run including Germany’s Rock Am Ring (June 3rd), the U.K.’s Isle of Wight (12th) and Belgium’s Rock Werchter (July 3rd).