Risen from the dead: live entertainment

Some acts are booked for B.C. concerts in the fall, but headliners choosing to sit out 2021

The box office at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre and others at live entertainment venues throughout B.C. are waiting for busier days ahead  | Chung Chow

Elton John will be playing BC Place October 21 as part of his postponed farewell tour – October 21, 2022, that is.

Major recording artists that had rescheduled world tours for 2021 due to the pandemic – the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber – have again postponed world tours until 2022, due to the logistical challenge presented by all the varying degrees of pandemic-related restrictions in various countries.

But there are some headline artists that are doing North American tours this year, with a sweep through the U.S. this summer before making their way to Canada in the fall.

Concert promoters may have jumped the gun when it comes to concert schedules for B.C. As of mid-July, a concert featuring Harry Styles – formerly of One Direction – at Rogers Arena for August 16, 2021, was sold out, according to Ticketmaster.

There was just one problem: No one seemed to know if that concert would go ahead or be rescheduled. B.C. is in Step 3 of its reopening, which allows indoor concerts, but with only 50% capacity limits.

Ticket-holders had been frantically trying to find out of the concert would go ahead at 50% capacity or be cancelled or rescheduled.

“I have tickets for four and need to know if this is still going on as we are flying in from Alberta,” one ticket-holder wrote on a Rogers Arena Facebook post. “Is this a for sure concert?”

Not even Rogers Arena knew the answer to that question, and Live Nation did not respond to inquiries from BIV. But the Harry Styles concert is no longer listed on Rogers Arena’s events listing, and the Ticketmaster website confirmed that the concert has been cancelled. A concert at Rogers Arena featuring Celine Dion August 28 and 29 has also been rescheduled.

The scheduling of concerts this summer and fall is really up the promoters, not the venues.

“We’re waiting on promoters before we can commit to any plans or expectations about concerts in the late summer/early fall,” a Rogers Arena representative told BIV.

B.C. is not expected to move to the kind of full reopening that would allow for full arena-sized concerts until at least September 7.

Music lovers eager to attend arena concerts in B.C. will have to wait until October. James Taylor is currently on a North American tour with Bonnie Raitt and is scheduled to play the Save-on Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria October 1 and Rogers Arena October 2. Country Star Eric Church is scheduled to play Rogers Arena October 29.

In November, the Saints and Sinners Tour, featuring Canadian rock bands Headstones, Moist, Sloan and the Tea Party, is scheduled to play the Save-On Memorial Centre in Victoria November 3 and the Abbotsford Centre November 5.

BC Place will have its first major event since the start of the pandemic on August 19, when the BC Lions play the Edmonton Elks, with a 50% capacity. But it’s still not known when big-name concert acts will return to BC Place.

Jenna Visram, assistant general manager of BC Place, said the venue is still awaiting guidance from the provincial government, Vancouver Coastal Health and concert promoters.

“We had some concerts that were in the works for 2021, so there is a chance that we do see some of those,” Visram said. “But we’re really working with promoters on what their artists want to do and what they see happening over the next few months. It’s really going to depend on the promoters, the artists, and what happens with the public health orders. If that is a possibility, we are ready and very excited to do that. What we do hope is that we will hear in the days leading up to September 7 what the next phase will look like.”

As for the Pacific Coliseum, which has a capacity of 15,000, Shelley Frost, president of the Pacific National Exhibition, said concerts are schedule to start in October. But none of the acts playing the Coliseum have been announced.

“We’ve got seven shows that are confirmed between now and December, and 10 more that are just in the last details,” Frost said.

Smaller concert venues, like the Rickshaw Theatre, which specializes in metal, punk and the underground scene, will be holding concerts earlier than some of the larger venues. The Rickshaw plans to have its first concert, at full capacity (500), in September, said theatre owner Mo Tarmohamed.

“We’ve been busy booking shows right to almost the end of December. All weekend dates are booked; we’re also booking mid-week shows.” •