Seeking answers to another city snub

The Seekers, (L-R) Bruce Woodley, Judith Durham, Keith Potger and Athol Guy, attend a photocall in London ahead of a concert as part their 50th anniversary tour. Photo Getty Images
The Seekers, (L-R) Bruce Woodley, Judith Durham, Keith Potger and Athol Guy, attend a photocall in London ahead of a concert as part their 50th anniversary tour. Photo Getty Images

If the ho-hum reaction from my colleagues yesterday is a reliable guide, then it's possible I'm the only person in the province who's outraged by the news the Seekers are not, repeat not, coming to Dunedin when they tour New Zealand later this year.

OK, so maybe ‘‘outraged'' is just a little hyperbolic, but sad, frustrated and confused would certainly describe my mood as I write this, having digested the nigh-unpalatable truth that of the five venues chosen by the evergreen Australians, Dunedin did not make the cut.

Instead, next November, they will play in Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton and New Plymouth.

I'm not so much sad for myself -I've seen them at least twice on previous tours - but more for the southern fans (and I'm including our friends across the border in Southland) who have been overlooked by yet another highly popular group.

When I checked with DVML yesterday, they told me they got the news at the same time as I did - ‘‘which does happen now and again if a promoter has already made the decision on where the tour will go''.

The truly depressing fact is this not a new issue for Dunedin. We've already been bypassed this year by several headline acts, including Katy Perry and Jethro Tull, to name but two from a lengthy list. And I can't, for the life of me, see how it's going to get any better.

So, let's speculate on why it's come to this. Here's a few possibilities as I see them. -

Geography: we are too far away for ease of travel by artists.

Population: we don't have the numbers to guarantee full houses.

Weather: our (unwarranted) reputation for being cold and miserable puts them off.

Status: Dunedin is no longer seen as a ‘‘main centre''.

Or, A.N. Other (readers' suggestions welcomed!)

What I think we can safely exclude from the list is venue suitability. An expensively renovated Dunedin Town Hall has proved more than adequate for shows by the Seekers previously and the same goes for the Regent Theatre, while the stadium has handled what might becalled ‘‘super acts'' previously.

As for the Seekers, well, they might all be in their 70s (Judith Durham, 71, Bruce Woodley, 72, Keith Potger, 73 and Athol Guy, 74), but who really cares? Not, apparently, the crowds who attended the 15 sellout shows in the UK earlier this year, during their golden jubilee tour.

By my count they've played shows in Dunedin in 1968, 1976, 1998 and 2000 (I may have missed some dates) and I have great memories of the last two, especially in 1998, when they played for two hours for 2500 fans.

Looking through my scrapbooks, however, I note that in 2000 I wrote they had made their last appearance in Dunedin, not that I really believed it, given the group's penchant for reunion tours.

This time, however, it appears the carnival may truly be over.

As expected

The White Elephant continues to reign in expensive and splendid isolation...

Tough on Terry

I was tough on Terry Davies saying he hadn't brought any events to the city. I forgot about the Sydney FC v Newcastle game which was underwritten by ratepayers. I forgot that DVML needed to sell 9500 tickets but only sold 7500, a loss of some $130,000. Mr Davies described the event as a glittering success which had put Dunedin on the world stage.

I guess this is why people are lining up to book the stadium as we speak. When asked about the profit or loss, Mr Davies went back to the usual Commercial in Confidence defence to ensure the owners of the stadium, the Dunedin ratepayers were kept in the dark. Did Paul Simon make money, how about Aerosmith? Call me cynical but if Mr Davies or the two previous CEO's had made a profit on any events the Commercial in Confidence argument would have vanished faster than the millions lost on the stadium.

 

Events in Dunedin

I have been thinking about these questions too, Dave. What is the difference in the number of concerts, conferences etc since building the Stadium and upgrading the Town Hall?  Has there been an increase as the original forecasts predicted or a decline?

If there has been a decline, then why is this?  It would be interesting to see the comparison.

Are the charges too high for using these venues? Compare those venues with the Edgar Centre which has very little money spent on it but is cheap to rent and is over-subscribed with sports and events.   We spent around $300m on the Stadium and Town Hall s and I suspect that one reason
they sit there underutilised is because we spent so much doing them up that no-one
can now afford to rent them.  The $300m is a sunk cost and can never be recovered. 

It may have been fiscally inept to spend it, but it is even more stupid if the venues are left empty, steadily depreciating.  The much touted economic benefits will certainly never arrive if DVML can’t start getting some events on a regular basis.  

Good Mornington Ride Vietnam!

Rockin' Rollin' Wagons is about our hill suburb and The Seekers wont play Dunedin. Shame. That Bruce Woodley played Christchurch, 1973, and ZM host George Balani was dismissed for promoting Bruce. This has been 'Folk Rock Trivia', and possibly a waste of column inches

No answer?

I find it most disappointing that the many questions asked on this site do not receive an answer. Seems those who should don't read these columns.

Come on people

OK, why the shock? Dunedin is long gone as a city and is now only so in name alone. If the students went we would loose everything - all the shops, pubs, cinemas and malls would drift away. We have nothing going for us here bar a few cruise ships and again the students.

Oi! I hear you shout we have.... well, come on then, what do we have that would sustain us as a city? Do we have big industry? No. Do we have lots of employment that isn't shop based? No. Do we have cheap flights anywhere or is it cheaper to fly to Australia than Auckland well, er, no and yes! So the fact nobody bar a few begged for union matches want to come here is a reflection of our non-city status - one that the council and the mayor are doing their best to continue.

Right act, wrong venue ?

Is the problem that DVML are focusing too hard on the stadium at the expense of the other venues that they have equal responsibility for? Prior to the building of the stadium, we would get regular events such as The Seekers. Now nothing. Coincidence? The Seekers are a niche audience. They would pull a maximum audience of maybe 4000 people, whenever they play. It would paint them in a bad international light to fill 25% of a low quality concert venue, and it would also diminish the experience for the audience, neither of which they would want. Maybe it is time for DVML to shelve the stadium idea and get a little more aggressive in marketing the purpose-built Town Hall as a venue. Filling the Town Hall 4 or 5 times is the same as filling the stadium once, but far more likely. At least we would have some income.

Won't be population numbers either

Won't be population numbers either, the acts that have been in Dunedin have usually topped the numbers for attendance. Elton John for example, in his Australian tour had the biggest attendance in Dunedin. Others have had almost the same attendance as Auckland fixtures. One thing might be timing as Dunedin is less atractive to promoters during the student off-season (around Xmas). 

So what's happening?

Our new DVML CEO Terry Davies is paid $240,000pa and has now been in his role for some 4-5 months. What events are coming up Mr Davies? Your speeches at the Chamber of Commerce and various Rugby Clubs are all about the fact the Stadium is not a white elephant and that Dunedin venues are punching above their weight. So can you point to any success so far - bookings, upcoming events? Not things that were already in place, just the events you have come up with to justify your salary.

Have promoters forgotten the Town Hall?

Given the DVML and others' emphasis on trying to make the stadium work as a concert venue, maybe the promoters were unawre that the Town Hall still exists as a concert venue under DVML? 

Seekers visit

Unless they plan to play the Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth doesn't have a venue as large as the Town Hall or the Regent. Playing at the Bowl later this year would be decidedly dodge weatherwise too.