Clapton’s Had His Lot With Moscow

Eric Clapton pulled his August 3rd show in Moscow when the venue was switched from Red Square to the parking lot around the corner.

Promoter Alexander Ivanov said he has no idea why the Kremlin authorities moved the show from the Square to Vasilievsky Spusk, which is a park for tourist buses and any Moscow car owners who don’t mind paying the hourly rate.

“There is always a risk when booking the Square because, if the officials decide to do something else on that day, then the show will just be moved along the road,” the StarVox chief explained, apparently suggesting that the whims of the Moscow authorities can still create a force majeure.

The same problem didn’t seem to bother Roger Waters, who put up with having his June 24th Red Square performance shifted to the car park to make way for an official Kremlin ceremony that seems to have cropped up at the 11th hour.

A note on Clapton’s Web site said, “Unfortunately the Eric Clapton performance scheduled to take place on August 3rd in Red Square, Moscow has been canceled.

“Eric Clapton was delighted at the prospect of playing in Red Square before 20,000 of his Russian fans. The Russian promoter had been issued a permit for Eric Clapton to perform in Red Square signed by all appropriate Russian City and State authorities. However, earlier today, Russian officials withdrew the permit.”

Ivanov, who is head of StarVox, said he discussed the matter with Clapton’s management, but the artist didn’t want to play at Vasilievsky Spusk, so the show is likely to be rescheduled.

Risto Juvonen from Live Nation’s Helsinki-based Welldone Agency, who included Ivanov’s Moscow show as part of a run that he and his Scandinavian colleagues had put together, reluctantly accepted that nothing could be done about the city rulers snatching back the square at the last minute.

It wasn’t quite so last-minute that JSA had started building the stage, although company president Alexander Strizhak already had all the materials delivered to the site.

Strizhak said it stayed there for a couple of days in case the matter got resolved and then, when it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen, the company – which builds the vast majority of the country’s big stages – decided to move it on to the next project.

This summer’s projects have included the open-air festivals at Emmaus, Krylia and Nashestvie, and Vasilievsky stages for Waters, Shakira, and Black Eyed Peas.

It also did the stage and huge roof, which it brought in from Moscow and built in two days, for Metallica‘s June 13th record-breaking 70,000-capacity sellout on the Tallinn Song Festival Ground in Estonia.

Performing in the world famous Square still has a unique kudos and, apart from the top national acts, it’s only played host to a handful of shows including Luciano Pavarotti, Sir Paul McCartney and German rockers Scorpions, one of the Russian market’s favorite acts.

Apart from Waters, the other acts that were happy to play for their fans in the parking lot include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joe Cocker, and – this summer – Shakira and Black Eyed Peas.

– John Gammon