Valley Sounds Good To Concert Industry

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – This is a most unusual concert season. After the cancellation of every tour for the past 18 months, live music is suddenly everywhere – much more so than in the pre-pandemic world.

That’s because promoters, in an effort to make up for lost time and money, have stuffed the schedule with new dates for postponed shows and also added new ones.

Youngstown is benefiting from it. In fact, this market is currently in the path of some of the world’s biggest tours.

Five bands that recently played Youngstown – or soon will – showed up on the top 20 list released by concert-industry tracker Pollstar for the week ended July 30. The list ranks tours by revenues.

Chalk it up to the Youngstown area’s grade A concert facilities, most notably Covelli Centre – a miniature but modern arena – and the beautiful Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. But it wouldn’t get done without some savvy promoters.

It’s been said that concert tours come to buildings, not cities. But those buildings need an aggressive promoter to take the risk and book shows and this area is fortunate to have JAC Live. All of the top 20  concerts were – or will be – booked by JAC Live. A couple are collaborations between JAC Live and international promotion company LiveNation.

The Pollstar list ranks current tours by average box office gross per city and also gives the average ticket price for shows worldwide. It takes into account all concerts worldwide, not just North America.

Topping the list is country superstar Toby Keith, with $378,517 average gross per city, and a $68.77 average ticket price. Keith, by the way, played the Canfield Fair in 2018, a show booked by JAC Live.

But No. 2 is country vocal quartet Little Big Town ($336,085; $71.84), who is coming to Covelli Aug. 27.

Country rock outlaw Jamey Johnson is No. 5 ($181,580, $41.07). He’ll be at Packard Music Hall in Warren on Sept. 10.

Classic rockers Styx ($168,077, $68.84), who played The Amp July 29, is No. 7.

Foreigner ($143,039, $68.01) comes in at No. 11. The classic rock act is touring with a string section to put a new spin on its sound. This tour will come to The Amp Oct. 12.

The ever-popular Beach Boys ($130,850, $80.55) are No. 16. The Beach Boys, led by original member Mike Love, played a phenomenal show at The Amp on July 20. To me, that hit-laden outdoor show marked the comeback of big concerts and the Beach Boys were a perfect choice.

Two more JAC Live concert tours coming to the area – both at the Canfield Fair – will almost certainly crack the top 20 list once they get started. I’m talking about Darius Rucker, who plays the fairground grandstand Sept. 5, and Shinedown, Sept. 6. JAC Live promoted all of the above shows, although Styx and Foreigner are co-promoted with LiveNation.

Several other tours coming to the area have the potential to make a splash on the Pollstar list. These include Jim Gaffigan, arguably the top comedian right now, who will play Covelli on Aug. 20; and metal legends Judas Priest (Covelli, Sept. 17).

Some really huge tours have yet to kick off, or just did, including The Rolling Stones, and Rammstein. Neither is coming to Youngstown. But when their numbers start rolling in, they will certainly be at the top of the Pollstar list and will post numbers that will blow away the current leaders.

Eric Ryan, president of JAC Live, says Youngstown’s emergence as a good concert market was built one show at a time. “It’s pretty simple. Every successful show helps us bring even more,” he says.

Pleasing the touring band’s entourage is just as important as pleasing the fans, Ryan says, and JAC Live prides itself on doing both.

Every detail matters when dealing with a tour, he says. These aspects include everything from greeting the band and entourage with a smile, to venue cleanliness, to quality production crews, including local sound and light vendors.

“It all adds up,” Ryan says.

But most important is having a fan base that buys tickets and repeatedly fills up the seats. That, more than anything, “helps us to continue to book these major artists,” Ryan says.

Pictured: Fans await the start of the July 20 concert by The Beach Boys at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. The show marked the combeback of big concerts.