Pleas to save Blackpool's Livewire Festival

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
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Hoteliers and businesses in Blackpool are calling on promoters to step in and save the gigs due to take place at the ‘postponed’ Livewire Festival.

It was announced yesterday morning that the four-day festival – with a headline show from music megastar Mariah Carey – had been pulled by promoters due to the ‘ill-health of key personnel’.

Now, calls are being made for Blackpool Council to encourage alternative promoters to stage the four-day pop party, which was taking place at the Tower Festival Headland during the August Bank Holiday weekend of Thursday to Sunday, August 23 to 26.

Vocal sensation Mariah Carey was to headline the Friday night, and Boyz II Men and Matt Goss were playing on Thursday.

The postponement isn’t the first time Livewire 2018 has been hit by illness, after Saturday’s headline star, the king of country music Kenny Rogers cancelled all live engagements earlier this year due to his own health issues. His replacement act had never been announced, and the Sunday show’s line-up was unknown with just seven weeks to go.

It had been hoped the weekend would bring a welcome boost to the resort - following the success of last year’s debut Livewire weekend, which saw a sell-out 20,000 capacity crowd see DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith headline, alongside performances from The Jacksons and the Hit Factory 80s pop stars including Jason Donovan and Sam Fox.

A statement issued by Republic Media on behalf of Livewire read: “Blackpool’s Livewire Festival, which was due to take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, will be postponed to 2019.

“A spokesperson for Livewire confirmed that the decision was made due to the ill-health of key personnel at the local promoter, Manchester-based Livewire Events Ltd.

“Discussions are currently underway with some of the artists’ representatives to determine participation in Livewire 2019.”

Charlie Docherty, chairman of Blackpool Business Forum, which support’s the resort’s holiday zone, has asked the council to step in and find an alternative promoter to run the Livewire shows - or at least arrange some form of event for the Bank Holiday weekend.

“The announcement of Mariah Carey was great news for Blackpool,” he said. “But this is going to come as a bit of a blow now as we were really pushing it within the tourist industry.

“It was a great event last year, my guests loved it. People do come specifically for these big events.

“Apart from the disappointment and shock at the news, I have to ask can the council not step in and try to have something for that weekend?

“With a superstar like Mariah Carey, a promoter would be quids in to take that on.”

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers’ group Stay Blackpool, said the news was ‘gutting’ for the resort.

“It’s absolutely gutting, such a shame,” she said. “The event was gaining momentum after last year which was fabulous in putting Blackpool on the map.

“We have all been promoting Livewire and Mariah Carey because it’s such a big, huge deal for us in the resort.

With the on-going issues with trains to Blackpool, the cancellation of Livewire comes as another blow to the resort’s summer tourism season.

There had been high hopes for 2018 to be a bumper season for the town, with the opening of a £1m Marvel attraction as part of Madame Tussauds and the new £16.35million Icon rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach.

But, Mrs Smith hopes the fact the festival was taking place during the Bank Holiday weekend means the impact of its cancellation will be minimised – although there are concerns about how it will effect future festival plans in the resort.

“We have to do damage limitation, as there’s so many wonderful things to shout about this year, with Icon, Marvel, we have the UK’s best park, and much much more.

“Entertainment is what we we do and we so it brilliantly.

“I wouldn’t say it ‘won’t matter’ being the Bank Holiday, but what I would say is that it’s usually a good weekend here even without Livewire.

“It could, however, put off big names from signing up to play here, and that’s a worry for Livewire’s future years.”

Ahead of last year’s three-day Livewire Festival, organisers revealed that the 2017 shows were the first in a three-year deal with Blackpool Council, securing the use of the Tower Festival Headland.

Mr Docherty also questioned the reason given by Livewire, adding: “If I was taken ill tomorrow, my hotel wouldn’t shut – the other staff would know what to do and keep it running.”

Michael Williams, chairman of the Blackpool Business Improvement District (BID), said: “It’s very unfortunate that Livewire has been cancelled as it would have been an additional boost for traders.

“However we still have Switch-On weekend with Britney Spears to look forward to.”

The event is a private venture by Livewire Events Ltd, renting the concert arena from Blackpool Council.

Deputy leader of Blackpool Council, Coun Gillian Campbell said: “It is disappointing but we understand that under the circumstances, the postponement cannot be helped and we wish the promoter a speedy recovery.

“In the meantime, we can still look forward to a fantastic summer of music including the Switch-On and Britney Spears concerts, which will bring the summer season to an amazing finale.”

The Illuminations Switch-On takes place on Friday August 31.

Britney Spears plays the same stage the following night on Saturday September 1, organised by Cuffe and Taylor.