Arena Tour Thoughts

Today was day one of the February 2014 arena shows being on sale – well, the pre-sale – and it’s been an exciting and hectic day. The simple fact that I’m sat at home watching people buying tickets for venues this size to see me and the Sleeping Souls is pretty perfectly crazy. There’s been a lot of commentary and questions on Twitter and Facebook, and I thought it’d make sense to gather some thoughts and answers of my own for everyone here.

First up – thanks for buying the tickets, if you did, that’s great. Hopefully the ticket price is to everyone’s liking, I got it as low as I could. I know there’s also some booking fees here and there which can be a bit tiresome / excessive, alas that’s not something I have control over. The merch bundles are cool (I think) and pretty good value, and of course, you don’t have to buy them if you don’t want to.

Incidentally, none of the shows are sold out (!?) – it’s just the pre-sale that has gone, more tickets will be on sale on Friday morning at 9am. These will include tickets with disabled access, for those asking. The support bill for the tour is worked out, but I can’t announce it just yet. But trust me, it’s killer.

People have been asking about VIP tickets and “meet and greet” stuff. I don’t sell VIP tickets, it seems entirely bogus to me. I also find the notion of “meet and greets” a little staged, awkward, false. Then again, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to hang out with every single person at the shows. I have a plan to reconcile all of this to everyone’s satisfaction, watch this space.

More generally, the subject of arena shows, and a little bit of statistical geekery for you. I know some people aren’t stoked about the size of venues on this run and are worried about them losing a sense of inclusion, intimacy or whatever. I do understand that. I guess I have two responses. The first is, as Wembley showed (and most of these shows are smaller than that), it is possible to create a great atmosphere at big shows. Never fear, my band, crew and I are working on making the shows great.

More pertinently, here’s the thing: with the pre-sales today, if we’d been playing smaller venues (Manchester Academy, Brixton, wherever), almost all of them would have been totally sold out by lunchtime today. That means that the majority of people, most likely including you, dear reader, wouldn’t be able to come to the shows. It’d mean that any new people coming on board in the next 5 months wouldn’t be able to come. It’d mean that anyone who is waiting for pay day to buy tickets, or finding out if friends can go, or making travel arrangements, or people who simply weren’t up at that time of day, wouldn’t be able to come. It’d make what I do exclusive, and that’s just not what I want. So for now, while fortune smiles on me, we’ll have shows like this, and they’ll be a ton of fun, don’t worry. In the future, who knows. Maybe I won’t be hip (haha) in a few years time and I’ll see all you die-hards back at the Railway Inn.

Finally, in terms of the range of the tour. It’s a short run, I know. Time is not on my side, with commitments for touring elsewhere in the world and the fact that, with my health right now, I need to actually take it a little easier than on past mammoth runs. For the record, it’s not quite fair to say I “never” play Birmingham / Newcastle / Leeds / Bristol or wherever. Of the 188 shows I’ve done in the last year (not including making an album), 66 have been in the UK, including shows in every single region of these islands of ours. If this tour doesn’t come to your town, don’t worry, it’s not like I’m not coming back sometime pretty soon.

Anyways, I don’t want to come across as annoyed, I just wanted to put my side of the argument for you all. Something I’ve always done, and aim to continue, is to be open to everyone and ideas about how best to do what I do to keep everyone happy. This is a conversation, not a monologue. It’s going to be one hell of a tour – see you there.

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