Riots Not Disrupting Music Biz

“Oh no, you sound like an American who’s been watching CNN all day,” Aurélie Grivet of EBSCO media consultancy said in reaction to Pollstar questions about the likelihood of the current riots disrupting the country’s live music business.

“The situation is far from being frightening. We’ve seen the pictures and heard the reports on CNN and I honestly didn’t recognise my own country. It’s not that bad and it’s localised,” she explained.

Apart from expressing some sympathy with the rioters, without condoning their methods of protest, the general consensus of opinion was that the live music shows will definitely be going on.

“The riots are strictly limited to certain districts, where many unemployed people are ready to express themselves by any act which will be broadcast,” Paris Bercy events and development manager Philippe Ventadour said. “The press coverage is very negative but there’s no important cancellation.”

The 16,000-capacity venue is hosting mainly sports events this month, but there are upcoming shows for Moby and Coldplay in November as well as The Fugees and Black Eyed Peas in December and all are confidently expected to go ahead.

Apart from satellite TV news, the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph has led the British media’s reporting of the riots by saying the country is facing “one of its gravest post-war crises” under a headline that read “Leaders Fiddle As France Burns.”

Jackie Lombard of Paris-based Interconcerts, who had November 3-4 shows with Bob Dylan, said the problems aren’t having any effect at the moment and blamed the media for much of the trouble.

“The media is doing too much and has a big part of the responsibility for this. It’s giving ideas to all the kids, and they are kids, and if the press stops showing so much interest it will hopefully calm down,” Lombard said.

More disturbances broke out on the night of November 7th, taking the damage report up to 3 dead, 100 injured police and rescue workers and close to 5,000 wrecked cars.

Although police union Action Police CFTC called for curfews in all riot-hit areas to combat “the civil war that spreads a little more every day,” the following 48 hours brought positive signs that the situation had begun to “calm down.” Lombard looks right to expect the trouble will be over long before her February Depeche Mode shows in Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon, Amneville and Douai.

Alain Lahana, a promoter and manager, had Rachid Taha shows in St. Herblain and Armentières at the beginning of the month and has the same act in Bourges, Floranges and St Dizier in the coming week.

“The way things appear in the press doesn’t really match up with the reality,” Lahana said. “There are burnt-out cars, fights in some suburbs and the situation between some police and local rioters is tense but, for instance, in Paris we don’t feel any change of attitude, aggression or even an increased police presence.

“I have some events in Paris at the moment, but I didn’t even had a request to upgrade my security, do extra searches or anything. The city isn’t affected at all, as far as I can notice.”

— John Gammon