Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Graham: Legends Concert Will Be “the First Of Many” At New Road

Graham: Legends Concert Will Be “the First Of Many” At New Road

Worcestershire CCC General Manager Jon Graham hailed the the inaugral 'Legends' music concert at New Road as a major triumph and insisted: "It was the first one – and the first of many."

Around 6,000 music lovers attended the 12 hour extravaganza which featured a host of artists spanning the 1960s to the 2010s and was head-lined by reggae superstars UB 40.

It was another financial success for the County after the a combined total of 4,500 people attended the two outdoor cinema events which screened 'The Lion King' and 'Finding Nemo.'

And the motivation as always is to raise funds to plough into the cricket side of the club.

The social media response of those who attended the Legends concert has been generally positive although Graham said there were areas of the marathon day that the club will look to improve when it returns next summer.

But he was universal in his praise of the club's staff in coping with any challenges they were presented with and making sure ticket-holders had a day to remember.

Graham said: "My brief was to put on a concert that wasn't going to financially compromise the club and was going to return a profit. We will do all those things with Saturday's gig and that's a big tick in the box for us.

"It has been a long time coming. We've been looking at doing a concert for the best part of two and a half years and for a variety of reasons we couldn't get a deal over the line.

"I suppose the main reason was the financial aspect didn't make a lot of sense to the club and I've been incredibly lucky to meet up with our partner who helped us put this concert on.

"We feel we have found the right business partner we can work with to put these gigs on and, who knows, it maybe that it is not just one gig next year but two – as well as other things we are looking at.

"There is definitely going to be another concert next year, absolutely, and it is going to become an annual event. It was the first one – and it is the first of many.

"It is about making sure we can invest in the playing side of the game because ultimately that is what we are here to do.

"If that investment comes from other income streams, whether it be a concert or outdoor cinemas or Christmas parties, it is all those other elements that are ultimately going to improve what we can do on the pitch.

"That is the motivation of everything we do."

Graham added: "There are a number of individuals we've worked with that have got a lot of experience in this sector which is vital for these things to go off as planned. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it – and it isn't.

"There is a lot of work that goes into it. Everyone has to be pushing in the same direction. The pleasing thing for me more than anything was seeing my staff internally, across all our business areas, really stepping up and stepping up at a time when it wasn't easy.

"Because the soundchecks got a little bit delayed, we didn't allow people in until 11.45am instead of 11am and the knock-on effect of that was instead of having a steady stream of people coming in, we got hit pretty early with a lot of people.

"It did really test all of our processes but we dealt with it that and any challenges were addressed and the customer utimately didn't see the join and their experience was not diminished.

"We said it was really important we greeted everyone with a smile because ultimately this was showcasing the cricket club as an events business because that ultimately when we are not playing cricket that is what we have to become."

Graham welcomes constructive feedback from Saturday's concert.

He said: "The feedback on social media in the main has been incredibly positive. There was some constructive feedback and that is far more useful than everyone telling you how good you are.

"That is lovely to hear but ultimately if there are things that didn't quite go to plan, we'd like to know.

"There were a couple of times when the main bar got hit really hard and we probably under-estimated how much the good people of Worcester like to party! That is something we will address for next year.

"There was one issue when Kenny Thomas was performing and it wasn't so much the sound but the equipment and that was something we addressed there and then for Alexander O'Neal's set so that problem didn't occured again.

"I'd have loved to have sat here on Sunday morning and say everything was perfect but it doesn't work like that. There is always room to improve but I couldn't be prouder of the staff and how everyone really put a shift in.

"With cricket and a four-day game, it is what it is, it is quite sedate and you get to meet the members, have a chat, watch a bit of cricket and there is no real strain on the infrastructure. It is what we do.

"So when you go to the absolute other end of the scale, where people are coming here for the first time, it is really important they go away with a real good feeling in their stomach about the day.

"That was vital because there is no point in doing it once and doing it badly. You don't come back from that.

"We had a fantastic experience with the Lion King, 3,500 people for that, another 1,500 for Finding Nemo and 6,000 people for the Concert.

"Over 10,000 people here for things that are absolutely nothing to do with cricket and a lot of those people will never have been here before.

"Of those 10,000 people, I'd hope the majority had a good time and they tell their next friends and next year this becomes something that will really put the club in a really strong position going forward, both from a community point of view and also a financial point of view."

Graham says whether the County stage another Legends style concert or a one-off artist – such as Sir Elton John in 2006 – will depend on the financial logistics.

He said: "I think we like the 'Legends' brand but the one thing this will do….a lot of the bands are under the same management and when you put on a good show, people want to come and play at your venue.

"This isn't a normal venue. This is not a football club, rugby club, with stands all around. This is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK with an amazing backdrop, one of the best in world cricket. You put a stage in front of it, that is quite compelling.

"If the choice is between coming here and somewhere else, and the money is the same, I'd like to think we are going to win more than we lose.

"We know what we've got but we are certainly not arrogant with it. What we will do, whether it is a Concert Of Legends or a one-off superstar, we've got both in the pipe-line.

"It is ultimately going to be down to the financial element and what we feel is going to work the best.

"We've had offers of all sorts of people the last couple of years to come and play here and whilst it might fill the ground with 18,000 like Elton John did, the reality is just because it's 18,000 people here, doesn't necessarily mean you will make any money.

"That for us is key. We are not going to get excited by filling the ground because all you are is busy fools. On Saturday we were really busy but we weren't foolish.

"It was our staff, our food, our beer, our profits. When you control it, you'veonly got yourself to blame if you get it wrong."