Vince Powers Into Benicassim

Vince Power has bounced back into the live music industry by buying what one U.K. newspaper described as “a majority stake” in Spain’s Festival Internacional Benicassim(FIB).

Jose and Miguel Moran of Maraworld – the brothers who own and run the festival – aren’t commenting on the details, particularly how much of the event they’ve sold and how much Power’s new VPMG company has paid for it.

An undated festival press release, apparently only available by request, described the deal as an “association,” but in an interview with Jessica Bown published in the U.K.’s The Sunday Times, it was reported that Power “recently bought a majority stake in a Spanish festival that takes place in the coastal resort of Benicassim.”

At press time, it wasn’t possible to contact Power for comment.

The FIB statement describes him as “an experienced organiser of music events in the United Kingdom, such as Reading/Leeds and Glastonbury, as well as the mastermind behind the legendary London club known as Astoria.”

For Power, who collected about £13 million when his Mean Fiddler Music Group was sold to Clear Channel and MCD’s Hamsard 2786 a year ago, the move on Benicassim will fulfil a long-held ambition to break into the Spanish festival market.

When he was MFMG chairman, the company bought into Barcelona-based Neo Sala’s Doctor Music Festival, but two attempts to stage the event ended in failure.

In 2003, the two companies worked in cahoots to restart the festival at Pla de Tapioles, which is about an hour north of Barcelona. Having won the backing of the two local mayors, the festival fell apart when both civic leaders – who were due to stand for reelection in a couple months – suddenly withdrew their support when they realised their residents were very much against it.

By the spring of 2004, their search for a site still hadn’t turned up a suitable place and the festival was shelved again.

A year later, MFMG was close to being bought out by Hamsard and then-Clear Channel chief exec Michael Rapino told Pollstar that continuing Mean Fiddler’s pursuit of a Spanish festival wasn’t on his agenda.

In a market where pop and rock festivals fail more often than they succeed, Power’s new Music Group has picked the very best of the crop.

Benicassim has grown steadily throughout its 12-year history. The Mediterranean coast site is a firm favorite with acts and fans and it’s the only Spanish festival to have secured any significant profile outside the country.

The U.K.’s New Musical Express has championed the event for years and The Observer named it as one of the “Overseas Jems” to visit this summer.

Power’s U.K. projects include the opening of his first new club in London’s Piccadilly.

“I used the money I got when I sold the company to invest in my new business, VPMG, and to buy some new venues,” he told The Sunday Times.

This year’s Benicassim (July 20-23) has Depeche Mode, Morrissey, Scissor Sisters, Pixies, The Strokes, Madness, Franz Ferdinand, Echo & The Bunnymen, Placebo, Babyshambles, Beth Orton, Coldcut, and Editors.

– John Gammon