Pori Blames LN

Pori Jazz organisers are happy the July 11-19 festival broke even but say it’s Live Nation’s fault it didn’t do much better than that.

A row has broken out between the world-famous Finnish festival and LN’s Helsinki office over the “last-minute” cancellation of Tom Jones as a main headliner.

Former Pori booker Jyrki Kangas, who stood down from that position following last year’s event but has stayed as a consultant to the booking team, is furious because he didn’t learn that Jones wouldn’t be showing until the evening before the event was to go on sale.

“I’d like someone from Pori to send me a copy of the contract,” said LN Finland chief Risto Juvonen, who claims the show wasn’t canceled because it was never confirmed.

“We’d talked about it and if Tom Jones had still been in Europe he would have done it, but he’d gone to the U.S. by the time of the festival and so he couldn’t do it,” Juvonen told Pollstar, saying that Pori jumped the gun by printing 500,000 brochures with the Welsh singer’s name on them.

Kangas claims otherwise and says the Pori organisation got the go-ahead to advertise and sell tickets at a meeting at this year’s ILMC, two weeks before the press conference that would launch the 2009 festival.

He says the Finnish papers gave the announcement of Jones plenty of coverage, but a week later – and less than 24 hours before the event was do to go on sale – he had a message from Live Nation Finland saying the Welsh star couldn’t appear.

Phil Bowdery, LN’s head of European touring and the man that Kangas claims gave the go-ahead at the ILMC meeting, says Pori is just the sort of festival that Jones would love to play and he recalls discussing it. However, he insists that he didn’t confirm the artist to play this year’s Pori.

The 60,000 tickets sold for the event were enough to put the world-famous festival in the black, but last year it shifted 70,000 and Kangas thinks the global concert giant should shell out for the difference. Last year’s Pori made euro 1 million ($1.42 million).

He says not having a headliner killed the onsale.

“In my 40 years in this business I have never seen anything like it,” Kangas said. “Before we had got a replacement, which was the first week of May, Live Nation had already announced it would do a Tom Jones show in Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena in the autumn.

“Two weeks later we replaced Tom Jones with Brian Setzer’s Big Band, but we’d lost the big launch.”

The acts who did make it to the 44th International Pori Jazz Festival included Booker T. Jones, Duffy, Raphael Saadiq, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Jr. Walker’s Allstar Band, Pee Wee Ellis, Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller.