From Busking To Busing To Breaking Records: A Kelly Family Affair

The Kelly Family
Carsten Klick
– The Kelly Family
From left: Jimmy, Patricia, Angelo, Kathy, John, Paul & Joey

Scanning through the Top 10 of Pollstar’s Top Worldwide Artists in the first quarter of 2020, you may wonder who The Kelly Family is – and why you haven’t had them on your radar, seeing how comfortably they rank amongst The Jonas Brothers, Celine Dion and Cher.
The tour that elevated the Kellys to such heights represents the culmination of a 40-year career, turning a family of Irish-American descent into one of the most successful bands in Europe. 20 million records sold, 48 European gold and platinum certifications, as well as countless entertainment awards speak for themselves.
Paddy, Angelo Kelly and Patricia Kelly on top of the family
Dieter Klar/picture alliance via Getty Images
– Paddy, Angelo Kelly and Patricia Kelly on top of the family
The picture was taken in 1995 in Munich, Germany, prior to the “Bambi” award ceremony.

The Kelly Family started out in the late 1970s as street musicians in Spain and other European countries, but soon appeared on TV shows and celebrated their first European number one in Belgium and the Netherlands in 1980 with “Who’ll Come With Me.” The song reached number 15 in the Germany, where the band has since developed its most devout following.

For many years, the group lived on a houseboat docked in Cologne, Germany, and travelled across the continent in a double-decker bus, living a vagabond lifestyle that matched their folky pop hits – a lot of which were penned on the boat or bus. 
A lifestyle that could no longer be maintained when the real breakthrough came in 1994 with the release of their eight studio album Over The Hump, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies to date. In the same year the band booked Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle at their own risk.
In the end, they played in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,000, a feat the band has repeated many times since. Only one year later, they sold out Westfalenhalle nine nights in a row, setting attendance records. Another year later they gave the biggest concert in their career in fort of more than 250,000 on the Danube Island in Vienna, Austria. More number one albums and stadium tours follow, rows upon rows of people could be seen sleeping in front of venues and around Schloss Gymnich, a castle set on a lake, which served as the family’s home since 1998.
The band did think about trying to break overseas, “in fact, Patricia Kelly travelled to the USA in the 90s to talk with Wiliam Morris Agency and Disney,” the band’s lawyer/manager Peer Boris Schade told Pollstar, but “plans were put on hold and eventually could not be realized due to the monumental success in Europe.”
The mega hype subsided in the 2000s, but the band continued to tour with different lineups, and various family members have embarked on successful solo projects since. 
One of three Kelly Family comeback concerts in 2017
Carsten Klick
– One of three Kelly Family comeback concerts in 2017
Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle has become familiar ground over the years

In 2016, The Kelly Family announced a one-off comeback show at the venue, where the hype kicked off more than 25 years ago: Westfalenhalle Dortmund. The date: May 19, 2017. Tickets for the concert were gone in 20 minutes. “After that we talked to the family and together we decided to put two more concerts on sale, which sold out within a few days. Rest is history,” the tour’s promoter Dieter Semmelmann recalls.

What started out as an idea for a single comeback show turned into an almost completely sold-out 98-date extravaganza across Europe, with a fulminant finale at Munich’s Olympic Hall, Feb. 23, 2020. 
The Kellys released their 15th studio album We Got Love in March 2017, which climbed straight to the top of the German charts and led to a completely sold-out 2018 tour by the same name. In the summer of 2019, they played some of the nicest open-air venues in Germany in an eight-date run dubbed “We Give Love.”
Towards the end of 2019, the Kelly Family embarked on another tour celebrating “25 Years Over The Hump.” 27 of 41 dates through February 2020 sold out.
Based on 34 box office reports, the tour sold 251,653 and grossed $14,865,336 in Q1. After three years of touring the individual band members decided to take care of their own families and solo projects again.
The Loreley in St. Goarshausen, Germany
Carsten Klick
– The Loreley in St. Goarshausen, Germany
The Kelly Family performed there twice in the summer of 2018

Schade said there’s definitely a different dynamic in a family band vs a group made up of non-relatives. “I would describe it as tougher but more fascinating, because in this case, in addition to the normal needs of a band, you have the specificity of family needs and relationships in a band context. You have two important levels to connect. I always met their musical and personal history with great respect and in recent years I have been able to share unique experiences with them as a manager and ‘family member.’ That is very special to me.”

He said he’ll continue to be involved in various projects of the individual band members going forward, but more in an advisory role: “I continue to be asked for advice from individual members, but most of them shape their careers for themselves. It’s natural for me to support them after this time.”
His personal highlight from the past three years: “That was the weekend in May 2017 with the three comeback concerts in Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle with a total of 35,000 people. It was an emotional highlight watch the thousands of fans holding over signs with the word ‘Thank you’ in the air, but also the family, who was completely overwhelmed by this love and gratitude coming from the fans.”
Key positions on tour:
Semmel Concerts Entertainment GmbH – Live Promoter: Dieter Semmelmann – CEO
Viviane Kube – head of project (Julia Lamb – assistant to the project manager)
Alexandra Müller-Osel – marketing director
Karolina Jarecki – head of PR
Jürgen Stoll – tour manager/band coordination/show caller
Thomas Schmitt – head of touring productions
Ingo Schönherr – production manager
Kenny Lippert – stage manager
Ronny Frank – pyrotechnique
Bodo Schulte – FoH sound
Marcus Herzog – FoH lights/lighting design/lights programming
Max Obermayer – video creative FoH
Glen Schmeling – monitor
Philipp Stapf – PA technician
Jürgen Erhard – system sound
Uli Klose – crew chief lights
Susanne Stoll – wardrobe
Klara Lehmann– hair & make-up
Markus Gertler – head rigger
Weidinger Catering – catering
Thorben Ströhlein – network / UHF
Philip Klarmann – set technician
We Drive You – Drivers
The Crew
The Kelly Family, Fotograf Max Obermayer
– The Crew
Jimmy, John and Patricia Kelly are missing on the picture.

List of all tour dates:
Comeback Concerts 2017
05/19/17 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle – SOLD OUT
05/20/17 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle – SOLD OUT
05/21/17 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle – SOLD OUT
“We Got Love Tour 2018” (GAS) / Complete Tour SOLD OUT
01/25/18 Riesa, SACHSENarena
01/26/18 Leipzig, QUARTERBACK Immobilien ARENA
01/27/18 Nürnberg, ARENA NÜRNBERGER Versicherung
01/28/18 Magdeburg, GETEC-Arena
01/30/18 Magdeburg, GETEC-Arena
02/02/18 Regensburg, Donau Arena
02/03/18 Düsseldorf, ISS Dome
02/04/18 Trier, Arena Trier
02/08/18 Erfurt, Messe
02/09/18 Frankfurt am Main, Festhalle Frankfurt
02/10/18 Stuttgart, Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle
02/11/18 Mannheim, SAP ARENA
02/15/18 Schwerin, Sport- und Kongresshalle
02/16/18 Halle / Westfalen, OWL Arena
02/17/18 Köln, LANXESS arena
02/22/18 Kiel, Sparkassen-Arena-Kiel
02/23/18 Hannover, TUI Arena
02/24/18 Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena
02/25/18 Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena
03/02/18 Berlin, Mercedes-Benz Arena
03/03/18 Chemnitz, Messe Chemnitz
03/04/18 Bremen, ÖVB-Arena
03/09/18 A – Wien, Wiener Stadthalle – Halle D
03/10/18 München, Olympiahalle München
03/11/18 S – Zürich, Hallenstadion Zürich
03/16/18 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle
03/17/18 Oberhausen, König-Pilsener-ARENA
03/18/18 Braunschweig, Volkswagen Halle
“We Got Love Tour 2018” (EU) Complete Tour SOLD OUT
03/08/18 CZ-Prag, O2 Arena
03/23/18 BE-Merksem, Lotto Arena Antwerps
03/24/18 NL-BA Rotterdam, Ahoy Rotterdam
04/06/18 PL-Gdansk, Ergo Arena
04/07/18 PL-Lodz, Atlas Arena
04/08/18 PL-Krakow, Tauron Arena
“We Got Love – Open Air 2018” (GAS) Complete Tour SOLD OUT
05/19/18 Bad Segeberg, Kalkberg Arena
07/05/18 CH-Murten, Pantschau / Murten
07/06/18 AT-Dornbirn, Freigelände Dornbirn
07/07/18 AT-Salzburg, Messegelände Salzburg
07/27/18 Dresden, Filmnächte am Elbufer
07/28/18 Berlin, Waldbühne Berlin
07/29/18 Chemnitz, Arena am Hartmannplatz
08/11/18 Freiburg, Fürstenberg Freilichtbühne
08/16/18 Ulm, Kloster Wiblingen
08/17/18 Coburg, Schlossplatz Coburg
08/24/18 St. Goarshausen, Loreley Freilichtbühne
08/25/18 St. Goarshausen, Loreley Freilichtbühne
“We Give Love – Open Air 2019” (G) 
05/30/19 Füssen, Barockgarten am Festspielhaus
05/31/19 Erfurt, Domplatz
06/01/19 Berlin, Waldbühne Berlin
06/08/19 St. Goarshausen, Loreley Freilichtbühne
06/14/19 Bad Hersfeld, Sparkassen-Arena
06/15/19 Mönchengladbach, SparkassenPark Mönchengladbach
06/16/19 Heilbronn, Wertwiesenpark
06/23/19 Uelzen, Almased-Arena
“25 Years Over the Hump Tour 2019/2020” (GAS) – 27 Shows SOLD OUT
11/22/19 Köln, LANXESS arena, Sold Out
11/23/19 Mannheim, SAP ARENA, Sold Out
11/24/19 Frankfurt am Main, Festhalle Frankfurt, Sold Out
11/27/19 Braunschweig, Volkswagen Halle, Sold Out
11/28/19 Magdeburg, GETEC-Arena, Sold Out
11/29/19 Leipzig, QUARTERBACK Immobilien ARENA, Sold Out
12/01/19 Kiel, Sparkassen-Arena-Kiel
12/05/19 Hannover, TUI Arena
12/06/19 Chemnitz, Messe Chemnitz, Sold Out
12/07/19 Berlin, Mercedes-Benz Arena, Sold Out
12/08/19 Berlin, Mercedes-Benz Arena
12/12/19 Bremen, ÖVB-Arena
12/13/19 Schwerin, Sport- und Kongresshalle, Sold Out
12/14/19 Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena, Sold Out
12/15/19 Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena
12/19/19 A-Wien, Wiener Stadthalle – Halle D, Sold Out
12/20/19 München, Olympiahalle München, Sold Out
12/21/19 Stuttgart, Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle, Sold Out
12/22/19 S-Zürich, Hallenstadion Zürich, Sold Out
12/26/19 Oberhausen, König-Pilsener-ARENA
12/27/19 Düsseldorf, ISS Dome, Sold Out
12/28/19 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle, Sold Out
12/29/19 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle
“25 Years Over the Hump Tour 2020” Additional Dates (GAS + EU)
01/17/20 Halle / Westfalen, OWL Arena, Sold Out
01/18/20 Krefeld, YAYLA Arena
01/19/20 Antwerpen, Sportpaleis Antwerpen
01/24/20 Nürnberg, ARENA NÜRNBERGER Versicherung, Sold Out
01/25/20 Riesa, SACHSENarena, Sold Out
01/26/20 Leipzig, QUARTERBACK Immobilien ARENA, Sold Out
01/31/20 Oldenburg, Große EWE Arena, Sold Out
02/01/20 Neubrandenburg, Jahnsportforum, Sold Out
02/02/20 Schwerin, Sport- und Kongresshalle
02/06/20 Trier, Arena Trier, Sold Out
02/07/20 S-Basel, St. Jakob Arena
02/08/20 Neu-Ulm, ratiopharm arena, Sold Out
02/09/20 Erfurt, Messe, Sold Out
02/14/20 PL-Kraków, Tauron Arena Kraków
02/15/20 CZ-Prag, O2 Arena
02/21/20 NL-BA Rotterdam, Ahoy Rotterdam
02/22/20 Magdeburg, GETEC-Arena, Sold Out
02/23/20 München, Olympiahalle München, Sold Out