Avo Rounds Off Session Fests

Having sold out five of its 13 1,600-seated capacity shows within a day of going on sale, Basel’s Avo Session looks as if it’ll continue a successful season for Switzerland’s concert festivals.

The idea of running a series of concerts under a festival banner isn’t unique to the Swiss, as many European and international jazz festivals use the format. But, as with outdoor festivals, the country seems to have at least its full share of them.

Apart from Avo (Messe Basel Oct. 23 to Nov. 15), Montreux Jazz Festival, Blue Balls, Live At Sunset and Moon & Stars all attract a wide range of international talent.

Avo’s sold-out shows include UB40 supported by Orishas, James Morrison plus increasingly popular Norwegian singer-songwriter Maria Mena, Snow Patrol and Emiliana Torrini, Simple Minds and Lovebugs, and Tom Jones supported by Tower Of Power.

Matthias Müller, one of the three local music fans who founded the event in 1985, expects other shows to also sell out in advance, including those headlined by Scorpions, Kevin Costner And Modern West, Blind Boys Of Alabama, Natalie Cole, Kris Kristofferson, Diana Krall, George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic, and Grace Jones.

Historically, each year Avo does between 95 percent and sellout business.

This year’s Montreux Jazz Festival (July 3-18), the 43rd edition of the world-famous event, attracted 90,000 paying customers. The lineup of shows included performances from Steely Dan, Dave Matthews Band, Herbie Hancock & Lang Lang, Klaxons, Lily Allen, Steve Winwood, Wyclef Jean, Jeff Beck, Bloc Party and Die Ärzte.

An estimated 140,000 people turned up to the shores of Lake Geneva to soak up the atmosphere and visit the free shows that help turn Montreux into jazz city for a couple of weeks.

Blue Balls Festival (July 17-25), which is in the German-speaking part of the country and also has a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Lucerne, takes over the city in the same way the jazz festival takes over Montreux.

Operating from two venues in the Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre – one with a 1,500 capacity and the other holding 2,000 – and clubs and open-air stages, it had sellout shows from Antony & The Johnsons with the Montreux Orchestra, Jamie Lidell, David Gray, James Morrison, Joss Stone, Reamonn, John Fogerty, and The Cat Empire.

The other acts helping to push the total attendance past the 100,000 mark included Seal, Keziah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Maria Mena, Gary Moore, Daniel Powter, and Rodrigo y Gabriela.