Wembley Stadium's James Taylor has spoken to Music Week about the venue's record concert summer.
The national stadium hosted 14 concerts in the space of five weeks, welcoming shows by the Spice Girls (three dates), BTS, Fleetwood Mac, Pink (two each), Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, the Eagles and The Who, along with the Capital Summertime Ball.
The bar has been set and it's now our challenge to try and recreate this as often as we can
"We have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from all of the promoters about the venue and our staff who have done incredibly well to deliver the high standards that have been set in an extremely demanding period," said Taylor, the venue's senior commercial manager. "It’s a summer that staff can look back on proudly and say they were a part of something that was really quite special.
"It was an historic summer with some lasting Wembley memories, be that Pink flying across the crowd from one end of the pitch to the other, to Bon Jovi becoming the only act to play Wembley in three straight decades. We had over 900,000 fans come through our turnstiles across 14 nights – engagement on our social channels and website went through the roof, particularly for BTS which was on a scale we have never seen before. They also smashed our merchandise records.
"We will of course take stock, seek feedback and review to make sure we continuously improve – we will look to be even better next year. The bar has been set and it's now our challenge to try and recreate this as often as we can."
The gigs attracted 900,000 fans in total and saw Wembley Stadium break its previous records of 13 concerts in one year, set in 1992. The venue hosted seven gigs – Ed Sheeran (four shows), Taylor Swift (two shows) and the annual Summertime Ball in the summer of 2018.
"We changed our booking policy to help us try and maximise our short concert window more effectively," said Taylor, who features in the new issue of Music Week. "In an ideal world we would have space for all enquiries and deliver enough weekends to meet demand – but the fact is we must get our pitch ready for football so we took stock of the past 10 years and trialled a new strategy to help us deliver more concerts and in turn help meet demand.
"But that required promoters and artists production teams to work closer than ever with increased stage sharing and they really did do that brilliantly. We rarely transitioned that quickly into different music shows before, we had done it from football into boxing a few times but not so much with music.
"It's also, of course, down to who’s touring and whether the productions are flexible – we were fortunate to have a number of acts who could be flexible on staging and that isn’t always possible."
He added: "In the main we had hugely positive comments about the productions from fans so there was no drop in quality in what was delivered – that was the concern with the stage sharing but the quality of the shows remained high.
"Limiting the number of load-ins also reduces costs which is not something we particularly benefit from as a venue, but if we can help promoters save costs then that’s another plus for everyone."
Music is very important to Wembley Stadium and plays a huge part in what we are doing here
The stadium is set to host seven games of the Euro 2020 football tournament, meaning it will be unavailable for concerts in June and July. However, the venue has managed to reschedule some of its annual events into different slots to create a window in August.
"It’s not the standard stadium touring period but we are in discussions now with a number of promoters so let’s see what happens," explained Taylor. "We certainly want as many gigs as possible. Music is very important to Wembley Stadium and plays a huge part in what we are doing here – be that from keeping Wembley’s music history and reputation alive to meeting our Club Wembley members demands, which is hugely important to the stadium's future."