Weighing Up The Local Talent

The organisers of the Kick-Off Concert that opens this summer’s World Cup soccer finals in South Africa will struggle to book a lineup that keeps everyone happy.

They’ve already bowed to government pressure to include more African acts on the bill, but world soccer governing body FIFA is keen to see the sort of international acts that will make the event a global TV spectacular.

FIFA will have been happy with the booking of Alicia Keys, Shakira, Black Eyed Peas and John Legend for the show at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium June 10, but the outcry from the South African music industry caused culture minister Lulu Xingwana to insist on seeing more locals given a chance.

“The key responsibility is to try and make this work at the Orlando Stadium”, said Hazel Feldman from Showtime, whose company is handling the South African logistics co-ordination.

The lineup is being finalised by U.S.-based Control Room.

“The event is being broadcast globally and the organisers were probably aiming to get a lineup which could sell tickets to fill the stadium whilst providing broadcast content that is relevant to the remainder of the global audience,” said Big Concerts’ chief financial officer Justin van Wyk.

He says the task is made even harder by the fact it’s an outdoor show in the middle of winter and the Soweto venue doesn’t have a history for presenting live music.

“On one hand we sympathize with the local talent because the world also wants to experience Africa and the local talent is needed to provide that, but on the other hand we haven’t seen local talent fill stadiums since the ’80s and the Big Birthday concerts.

“I cannot think of anything worse than beaming empty seats to millions of television sets around the world,” he said.