What A Difference A Day Makes

Within 24 hours of quitting The Agency Group office to set up on his own, Neil O’Brien received a phone call saying that Kate Walsh’s homemade debut album had gone to the top of the national iTunes download chart.

O’Brien said he enjoyed the 2.5 years he spent working in the company’s London office, but with a roster of largely emerging talent but no big hitters, he spent the last three or four months wondering and discussing with Agency Group chief Neil Warnock whether he’d be better to launch a company of his own.

O’Brien, whose live music industry experience includes a long stint at Mean Fiddler Music Group that involved working on the lineups for Reading, Phoenix and Fleadh Festivals and programming venues including Subterania, The Forum and The Grand, said he was always confident that he had enough talent on his roster to succeed. But he also admitted that the news about Walsh’s album, Tim’s House, gave that confidence an extra boost.

He’ll continue to program Oxfordshire’s 3,500-capacity Truckfest and he hopes to start up a handful of similar events around the U.K. and help run the Kitsch Lounge Riot night at Vince Power’s Pigalle Club. He brushed off industry rumours that his former Mean Fiddler boss is backing his new venture.

"I know that’s been said but it isn’t true," he told Pollstar.

As for the agency business, which will trade under the name of Neil O’Brien Entertainment, his busiest client at the moment is American blues guitarist/singer Joe Bonamassa, who has just completed six weeks around Europe in 700- to 1,000-capacity venues and will be back for summer festivals.

The rest of his roster is impossible to pigeonhole as he’s working with re-formed late-’70s punk rockers The Only Ones, a revitalized Tony Christie, and the original The Shaolin Monks.

He’s also handling the speaking engagements for Henry Blofeld, the aging and idiosyncratic BBC radio Test Match Special cricket commentator who’s much-loved for his plummy voice and being easily diverted by such superfluous details as pigeons, passing buses, aeroplanes and helicopters, or the quality of any fruit or sponge cake that’s been sent in by one of his many avid listeners.

Neil O’Brien Entertainment is at 25 Candlemakers, 112 York Road, London SW11 3RS. Tel: + 44 (0) 207 978 6475. E-mail: [email protected].