Music Has Arrived In Tottenham

Lady Gaga (pictured) and Guns N Roses finally brought concerts to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is one of the world’s most advanced buildings, there are no two ways about it. Home to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, the 62,850-capacity venue is also England’s first fully configurable NFL stadium – thanks to a soccer pitch that can be divided and fully retracted below the stadium’s south stand. But the NFL isn’t the only reason this technical marvel was implemented in the designs. The synthetic pitch below is also the one used for live concerts, which played an important role the building’s design.

The club knew it wanted to host concerts from the start. They chose audio experts Vanguardia for the job, telling company director Jim Giffiths to choose the newest and best system available. As Griffiths told VenuesNow in a 2021 Tottenham special feature, the owners chose a sound system that hadn’t even been built yet. Vanguardia had to travel to LA, where the speaker prototypes now creating the sound inside the stadium, were assembled.

The entire building has been concert proofed to make sure it wouldn’t suffer any of the sound issues traditionally associated with stadium shows. There aren’t any sizeable gaps between the roof and the upper facade, for instance, to prevent the sound from escaping. Vanguardia’s technical sound director, Joe O’Herlihy, is also the sound director of U2, who are known to push the boundaries with each new production they come out with. He provided production advice as well, during the stadium’s construction.

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The stadium’s end-stage concert capacity is 50,000. An in-the-round stage can get that number up to 70,000-plus.

The first two concerts at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium proved that the dedicated sound investment has paid off. Guns N Roses and Lady Gaga, both originally scheduled in 2020, finally were able to perform post-pandemic. The rock and roll veterans inaugurated the building’s concert activity July 1-2. Lady Gaga brought her “Chromatica Ball” summer stadium tour to London, July 29-30. The stadium welcomed just under 200,000 fans across all four shows.

Lady Gaga’s agent and “Chromatica Ball” tour coordinator in Europe for Live Nation, John Giddings, said, “I have to give a gold star to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium because it was fantastic. There was brilliant sound and the production looked incredible in there. The way it was built is perfect for a show.” Giddings knows what he’s talking about, having promoted some of the biggest stadium shows in history by artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna, and Celine Dion.

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The many LED surfaces on and inside the building allow for a complete artist takeover, whenever a concert takes place.

Aside from the bespoke audio system and the ability for trucks to roll onto the pitch for load in and load out, there are other features that have been designed with promoters and modern concert productions in mind. As one of the world’s most technologically advanced stadiums, artists can utilize its full capabilities to take their shows to the next level, like using the stadium’s 1,800 various-sized LED screens, including the largest digital entrance screen in Europe, for branding. What is more, the four LED screens inside the venue, surrounding the pitch, are big enough to display live concert footage. Both Lady Gaga and Guns N Roses utilized the digital screens for full artist takeovers of the stadium. Even the building’s exterior was lit in the band’s colors.

In most stadiums the pitch is level with the bottom row of seats. The first three rows or so are usually not utilized during concerts, because there’s an audience standing in the round. In Tottenham, once the soccer pitch is retracted, it leaves a three-meter gap between the lowest rung of seats and the bottom, creating an amphitheater-feel inside a stadium. The fact that the precious grass of the soccer pitch isn’t harmed by the concert activity, the quick turn-around time between soccer and NFL/concert configuration, means Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is more flexible than other stadiums, when it comes to filling gaps in the calendar with shows. Soccer kicked off again Aug. 6, shortly after Lady Gaga’s last show. Going forward, the free weekends, when the Premier League teams are away for international matches, will allow the building to host concerts because the pitch can be rolled in and out in a week.

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Concert stages are set up on the stadiums synthetic pitch, once the real-grass soccer pitch has been completely retracted.

These kinds of turnaround times are unheard of for stadiums, giving Tottenham a competitive edge when it comes to filling the event calendar. Technically, it’s even possible to hold concerts or other sports events like boxing or rugby during the Premier League season. The stadium’s boxing capacity is 66,000, artists performing on an in-the-round stage can get that number up to 70,000-plus, with over 50,000 possible for end-stage configurations.

From a hospitality standpoint, the stadium offers anything from entry-level street food right up to six-course ultra-fine dining, including 8,500 premium hospitality seats. Promoters can net a higher average price from those seats than they would in a traditional stadium because of the ultra-premium experience the building offers, promising a better-quality f&b and overall experience even for GA ticket holders.

The next concerts haven’t been announced yet. Todd Kline, Chief Commercial Officer, Tottenham Hotspur, commented, “We are extremely proud to have finally been able to stage our first concerts since opening – something we have been waiting to do for more than two years. To receive the acclaim that we have done from within the music industry is testament to the incredible effort made by everyone at the Club to convert the stadium to concert mode and put on a great show for everyone in attendance. With our focus now back to hosting football matches and the new Premier League season in full swing, we look forward to bringing fans another exciting summer of concerts at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2023.”

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