CONTROVERSIAL PROMOTER Vince Power is launching a 15,000-capacity celebration of Irish culture, The Feis, in Liverpool this July, headlined by Van Morrison and the Chieftains.
It will be his first major event since the failure of the company behind the first three Hop Farm Festivals (cap. 50,000) collapsing in early 2013 (see LIVE UK issue 159), with debts of £4.86 million and around 20 artistes owed a total more than £300,000.
An attempt to launch a cut-down, 10,000-capacity two-day Hop Farm Festival that same year was abandoned.
Speaking to Festival, Power insists his troubles are behind him and his new event will become a regular celebration of one of the city’s historic communities.
“There’s a great interest in Irish culture in Liverpool,” he says. “Culture Liverpool [a city council body] asked me if I’d be interested in running a festival. I did the Fleadh in London for 16 years.
“There’s no reason Feis can’t be bigger. It’s located on The Pier Head on the Waterfront, where the Irish came in by boat [during historic population migrations],” he says. “There’ll be contemporary and legacy artistes on the mainstage with contemporary bands on Stage Two. The third stage is a Ceilidh with old-fashioned Irish dancing.”
Power says early-bird tickets have sold out, with a Tier Two £65 ticket now available. “These days, when you put tickets on sale you know within an hour [how well it will do], not like in the past when you had to wait six months,” he says. “This will sell-out and all we want now is good weather.”
He acknowledges the Council’s experience last year with the failed 12,500-capacity Hope & Glory festival (see LIVE UK issue 212) has made it wary.
“The authorities are nervous because of Hope & Glory and we’re mindful of that,” says Power. “I’ve been promoting since 1983 and I don’t know anybody who hasn’t had a rocky road. We did have a crash, but that’s life and we should be hailed for the good times.”
Having opened the Mean Fiddler (550) in north-west London in 1982, Power was asked to help revive the failing Reading Festival (then 40,000, but with audiences of 15,000-20,000) in 1989 and produced three consecutive sell-out years.
He took over the event in the early ‘90s and added the twin Leeds Festival shortly after. The festivals moved to Live Nation Entertainment co-owned Festival Republic, when he sold his Mean Fiddler Music Group (MFMG) in 2005. MFMG also ran a successful series of Irish music-oriented Fleadh (30,000) events in London’s Finsbury Park over the same period.
One creditor of the collapsed Hop Farm Festivals, which featured headliners such as Prince, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan and the Eagles, was performance royalty body PRS for Music, which was owed an estimated £360,000 of uncollected monies across the three events.
On learning of the new event, a PRS for Music spokesperson tells Festival that following a High Court case brought by the society, “Mr Power gave his undertaking to the court not to perform or to authorise the performance of PRS’s musical works in public without a licence. He is aware of his licensing obligations.”