Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How To Stage an Elton Concert at Doncaster

ONE of the world's biggest stars will touch down in Doncaster for a spectacular concert in just six days' time. Sir Elton John is flying in to perform in our very own Keepmoat Stadium, which, for one night only will be transformed into a venue fit for a world-class pop concert.
Fans will be arriving from far and wide to see Elton in his first-ever show in Doncaster, with the hope of witnessing a greatest hits set which will become part of the town's history.

Slotted in the middle of a long string of shows in Las Vegas, Sir Elton will visit Doncaster as part of a small stadium tour which promises to excite and thrill fans old and new.

It's not the first time the Keepmoat has welcomed star names. Last July Ronan Keating performed with boy band McFly before fans gathered to see Bryan Adams with local legend John Parr.

The weather was unkind, but thousands attended in the pouring rain to watch the first live music event at the open air venue.

However the big concert is the culmination of months' of preparation and the moment when everyone can sit back and enjoy the show.

Hundreds of people are hard at work to make this year's event possible - and keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will be better - so here's a closer look at some of the people who make the event tick . . .

The promoters

WHILE many believe the Keepmoat Stadium is responsible for bringing the star to Doncaster, it is very much promoters Marshall Arts who is running the show. After organising Paul McCartney's recent Liverpool and Kiev concerts the company are in charge of making sure everything goes smoothly on the day.

With a crew of over 250 people, the promoters will be working seven days before the concert to put everything in place before the big man arrives.

Ben Martin, from Marshall Arts, said: "As the promoters of the show we find the venue on behalf of the artist, we then talk to the artist and talk to the venue, we set the ticket price, we put the adverts in the paper and talk to the local council. We also provide all the security, the stewards and the catering."

Aside from this they also ensure Elton's crew are happy and settled as well as that the stadium is ready for the concert. Over the course of a very busy seven days they build the stage, lay the flooring, and add the seats.

They also bring in technicians to fit the lighting and check that the sound is perfect. But above everything they have to make the star is comfortable.

The promoters need to be up to speed with Elton's touring preferences and make sure everything is ready for the stars' visit on the day.

Unlike the crew, Elton has concerts before and after July 12 so his visit to Doncaster is very brief.

Ben said: "Well if you imagine we have all these people behind the stage, it's like a little village but then you also have the people seated having a drink, and the people having meals.

"We have certain expectations. He has his own crew of 40 people but then we get everything in place and we need to make sure everything is sorted for his staff and crew. There are eight trucks in total so it's on quite a large scale."

The stadium

NO one could be looking forward to this concert more than Keepmoat director Shane Chalmers. He's been preparing for the big event for the past nine months and going to every length to make sure it runs smoothly.

Shane said: "The main difference between this concert and last year's is we have moved the stage from the south stand to the north of the stadium. We have also had to create a door which goes from the west stand to the north because there wasn't a direct doorway to the stand.

We had to change the dressing rooms into the artist dressing room and we have knocked through a breeze block wall."

While the usual Doncaster Rovers match takes two days of preparation, Keepmoat has been working for months to ensure they abide by every health and safety regulation. At the moment there is a suggestion Elton will arrive by helicopter though he may also travel by car to the venue. Either way it appears Shane won't rest until the concert is over.

"It is always strange for us because we spend nine months working towards this show and there is a whole range of things to go on and it'll be great on set-up day," he said. "It's not until two or three days after the concert that you realise what has just happened, and we cannot believe it. If someone had said two years ago that we would have Elton John in the stadium I would have never believed you."

The fans

THERE must be a lot of Elton fans in Doncaster as the promoters report more than 60 per cent of sales are to locals. One of the people sitting in the crowd will be devoted Elton fan Nick Hall. Having snapped up his tickets within seconds from the official Elton John website he will be watching from the best seats to see his hero in his hometown. Having seen the 'rocket man' over ten times and bidded for countless items of signed merchandise on eBay, he still can't believe Elton's coming to Doncaster.

Nick, 47, who used to live in Thorne Road but now lives in Pontefract, said: "Not in a million years would I believe Elton would come to Doncaster, mainly because before the Keepmoat there wasn't anywhere to put a concert. I think the people of Doncaster should be thrilled because it is such a fantastic show."

Nick admits not all his friends are on board with his Elton appreciation but insists that you don't have to be a fan to love the show.

He said: "I know people who have been dragged to a concert but they always come out loving it."

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