Avram Eyes Balkans

Marcel Avram is at the center of a ring of promoters teaming to bring top-level entertainment to the Balkan region.

The first public mention of his intention to bring in acts including Bon Jovi and Eric Clapton came in a November interview with Bulgarian national daily Standart, but Pollstar can reveal that plans to set up a Balkan promoters’ group including Maxa Catovic, Mimis Helmis, Richard Hoermann, David Lieberberg, Stefan Morosanu and Petar Petrov first started in the spring.

It wasn’t possible to contact Avram at press time, but Lieberberg – brother of German promoter Marek Lieberberg – confirmed the promoters will be making combined offers for top-level entertainment. Although spearheaded for the most part by Avram, all promoters will use their contacts to create deals that could work better with a group approach.

The current lineup could deliver shows in cities as far north as Vienna and Bratislava and as far south as Athens and Istanbul, taking in a choice of Zagreb, Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia and Ljubljana along the way.

"If we want to make an offer for someone like Kylie Minogue, then we have a bigger chance if we do it together than all of us offering individually," Lieberberg told Pollstar.

"The discussions started shortly after ILMC and have gone on since then. At the moment it’s a bunch of people who can work together and enjoy doing so, but who can say of the future? One day in years to come it may be one big Balkan promoting company."

Some of the promoters have worked together in the past, and Lieberberg, Petrov and Catovic are local partners for Avram’s "Merchants Of Bollywood" shows, which are currently running through Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, before moving on to Germany and Switzerland.

Hoermann, Lieberberg, Petrov and Morosanu were all involved in Deep Purple’s recent and successful run through Austrian and Balkan arenas in major cities including Graz, Bucharest, Sofia, Sarajevo, Split and Budapest.

The new partnership, which would rival Live Nation and Austria’s Rock & More as a Balkan and central European regional promoter, would have Avram bringing in talent for his Istanbul-based Purple Concerts to promote in Turkey.

Lieberberg’s Rock The Balkan and Petrov’s Balkan Entertainment Company – both based in Sofia – would handle Bulgaria.

Catovic’s Belgrade-based Komuna would look after Serbia and Croatia, Helmis’s Athens-based Neo Revma will be doing Greece and Hoermann would promote Austria and possibly Slovenia, Slovakia or Czech Republic, depending on what the act requires.

Avram already has his own office in Romania, although Morosanu’s Modus Productions is his local partner for the mid-December weeklong run of Bollywood shows in Bucharest and the provinces.

Catovic says the group has already begun informally discussing the 2008 possibilities for such acts as Clapton, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.

"We’ll have to see how it works but it has great potential," Helmis said. "It should help Greece if acts can stop off at more places on their way either to or from this corner of the map. So, it makes sense for me to be part of this group. It could change things in the Balkan region quite rapidly."

Hoermann confirmed that Avram approached him earlier in the year and said he sees the advantage of the promoters forming a much closer cooperation.

Avram, who hasn’t worked with Wolfgang Klinger and Rock & More since they reportedly fell out when co-promoting Eric Clapton shows, looks to have turned to some of Klinger’s other disenchanted former partners when creating this new Balkan promoter circle.

Catovic said the officially bankrupt Rock & More Veranstaltungs, which went bust a year ago, went down owing him money over a canceled Rolling Stones show. Lieberberg, who first went to Sofia to set up the Austrian company’s Balkan office, fell out with Klinger at the beginning of the year.

Apparently not wanting to work with Rock & More again, Avram looks to have turned to Hoermann, his Vienna-based rival, to put on shows in Austria and a couple of the neighbouring central European states.

"The Balkans are in my blood – my father is Greek, my mother Romanian. This part of the world is my motherland and this is forever. When I’m in Sofia, Bucharest or Athens, I feel the way I felt when I was a child," Avram told Standart.

Having listed Avram’s achievements promoting the likes of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson (with whom he famously fell out), Metallica, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Rod Steward, Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Andrea Bocelli and a host of others, the paper speculated who could be first to visit Bulgaria.

On December 4 Standart ran a follow-up story about who could be touring in 2008, including the results of research that Petrov’s company conducted in a bid to discover fan favourites.

The Balkan Entertainment Company survey showed the most in-demand act is U2, followed by The Rolling Stones. Third place goes to AC/DC, Bon Jovi takes fourth, followed by Metallica at No. 5.

The first solo performer in the list is Madonna, at sixth. Red Hot Chili Peppers are seventh, Kylie Minogue is eighth, German rock band Rammstein is ninth and Clapton is 10th.