VINCE POWER: THE GODFATHER OF GIGS

Vince Power: The Godfather of Gigs
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VINCE POWER: THE GODFATHER OF GIGS



Written by Heydon Prowse
30 Monday 30th June 2008

You sold Mean Fiddler to Clear Channel in 2005 and have been under a non-competition clause for the last three years. Now you're back!

It’s good to be back in the festival game.

So how did you get into the game in the first place?

I saw an advert in the paper advertising a club for sale. It was in Harlesden. At the time I was a furniture dealer. I had a shop in Harlesden. But I loved music, specifically country – I visited Nashville, Tennessee many times. I collected all the records. American folk was very similar to Irish Folk.

How long ago was this?

Many years. I was old then and I’m even older now… 30 years or so. So I called up the bloke from the bar, who was called Ron, and went to see it. When I arrived he was there mopping the floor, which was covered in water. He told me that a pipe had burst. Turned out later, after I had bought the place, that there was no roof. But I did the place up – brought in solid oak doors. Got them from a chocolate factory. You could still smell the chocolate on them.

 

Why did you decide to call the place the Mean Fiddler?

It’s an Irish expression – ‘he’s no mean fiddler.’ Plus I come from a family of fiddlers.

Was it a success?

No, it was a complete disaster. I was propping it up with the furniture business. Morris, my bank manager, called me up and said, “Stick to what you know Vince.” I saw him recently actually. Ha ha ha.

How did you turn it around?

We had a woman called Karen booking the bands. She was always off her head. I had to fire her. The guy from the cellar, who did the barrels – David – he said, “I could do that job.” So I let him. He was very successful. He worked for me for 12 years… booked Reading. He’s now the head booker at Koko I think.

 

So people started to come to your venue?

Yeah. In those days venues were crap. We had a good sound system and dressing rooms. A lot of big bands played their first gigs there. The Pixies started there. Being a promoter is like riding a bike. You can either do it or you can’t. I started buying other places – Powerhaus, Subterania. We went onto do the first legal raves – Tribal Gathering, Creamfields, Homelands.

How is your new festival, The Hop Farm, different from other festivals this summer? There’s no VIP section, is that right?

Yes, it’s a return to the basic values of a festival. There will be no branding, no attitude. No one to tell you that you’re excluded because you haven’t got a special pass.

Is this where Glastonbury has gone wrong? Is this why they struggled to sell tickets this year?

They didn’t really struggle to sell tickets. They did compared to previous years. But by any other festival’s standards it’s still a great success.

But things have changed since your day right?

All the extra security. When Mean Fiddler was involved and they tried to introduce the ID system, I objected. It kills the spirit of the festival. So what if some people jump over the fence. It’s paranoid. People were buying up the tickets and selling them on ebay and making a lot of money. They didn’t like that. But you can’t legislate against touting. Touting is everywhere. My idea was just to put ticket prices up and then give more money to charity.

For more info on The Hop Farm and Mighty Boosh Festivals and the rest of Vince's empire click here.

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