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Back to the future with four new fests

Festival
12 March 2019

THE TEAM behind 80s festival brand Let’s Rock is launching four new events this summer, in Liverpool, Belfast, Wales and Essex, bringing the total number of locations to 12.

They join UK Live-promoted Let’s Rock festivals  in Norwich, Sunderland, Leeds, Exeter, Southampton, Shrewsbury, Scotland and Cookham in Berkshire.

All site capacities are 15,000 except Scotland, which is 20,000, and the founding event Let’s Rock The Moor (LRTM) in Cookham, at 10,000.

The new events represent about 25 per cent growth for the company this year, according to UK Live director Matthew Smith, who expects similar expansion, including into Europe, next year.

In addition, the company runs the Penn Festival (10,000), where headliners include Craig David, Suede and Happy Mondays, and a new series – Sunday Sessions, which shares the Let’s Rock infrastructure in Exeter and Norwich, headlined by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Founded by Smith and fellow director Nick Billinghurst from a LRTM charity event in 2009, UK Live has invested in its own infrastructure, including staging and marquees.

“The 80s is a fantastic market – the crowd are nostalgic and have fun, while the artistes love it,” says Smith. “Their careers were 30 years ago and they’re playing in front of up to 20,000 people.

“My background was pubs and nightclubs, while Nick did lighting and sound for nightclubs. He knew [80s artiste] Nick Hayward and it grew from there. As we booked more acts from the 80s we worked with a long list of agents and other doors have opened.

“We booked Manic Street Preachers last year and Noel Gallagher twice this year, for the Sunday Sessions.”

After running purely on a charity basis initially, Smith and Billinghurst went commercial in 2013 and say they have raised £500,000 for charities including The Wooden Spoon Foundation and Child Bereavement UK over the years.

Artistes at this year’s Let’s Rock events include Andy Bell, Marc Almond, Shalamar and Jason Donovan.

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