The Weeknd is on the horizon in more ways than one.
The Canadian pop star, who has sold more than 75 million albums and is set to play halftime at the Super Bowl on Sunday, will be in concert at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on April 30, 2022. Tickets go on sale Monday.
The three-time Grammy winner’s infectious hits such as “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Blinding Lights” have propelled him to the top of the music world. His stop in Spokane is part of his “After Hours” tour and is the first big concert for Spokane since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Matt Meyer, the director of entertainment for the Spokane Arena and First Interstate Center for the Arts, said he has been waiting for almost a year to make such a concert announcement.
“I’m extremely excited that this show is scheduled since we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Meyer said. “I’m excited for my staff and everyone in this city. It’s a great show for us since my goal is to bring diversity to Spokane.
“Not only were we able to accomplish that, but The Weeknd is a large name and one of the biggest artists coming out of 2020.”
Classic rock artists, such as Elton John and Fleetwood Mac, and country stars, such as Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean, are the usual attractions. With The Weeknd, Meyer is hoping to run the gamut of the sonic spectrum.
“There is so much I would love to see come to town,” Meyer said. “I would love it if we could bring in Justin Timberlake and Bruce Springsteen.”
Steve Van Zandt, who is Springsteen’s musical consigliere in the Boss’ E Street Band, is open to performing in Spokane. “We’re up for playing cities we haven’t played before,” Van Zandt said while calling from his Manhattan apartment. “We love the Pacific Northwest, where we’ve played Seattle so many times, but we’re up for playing another part of Washington.”
Meyer will continue to book classic rockers and country acts. “Those recording artists will always be welcome at our facilities,” Meyer said. “But we have to expand on who we bring in here.”
After Meyer received the news that The Weeknd was on the way, a number of bucket-list recording artists he would like to see in 2022 rolled through his mind.
“Dua Lipa, Greta Van Fleet, The Killers, Anderson .Paak and, especially for me, Rage Against the Machine and P!nk are who I hope to have play here after the pandemic,” Meyer said. “We should have recording artists like those. We need to keep the younger generation in our town entertained.”
Meyer said he had to explain when trying to make the booking that Spokane had plenty of young people to support such a show.
“I said, ‘Do you watch college basketball?’ Gonzaga is a mile down the river from us. There’s a trail to our building to the campus. Ears perked up after hearing that,” he said. “Things are getting better, and The Weeknd is coming. It’s an exciting and encouraging time. The announcement of The Weeknd tour gives us hope that we’re getting back to normal.”
Ray Waddell, the president of the Oak View Group which owns Pollstar, a trade publication for the music industry, agrees with Meyer.
“Even though it’s … a year from now, the resumption of The Weeknd tour for 2022 suggests a return to some sort of normalcy for the overall touring industry is on the horizon,” Waddell said from his Nashville office. “I’m sure most fans and the touring industry itself would hope we see touring activity sooner than 2022, but, even so, it has been a long time since we have seen a tour announcement of any kind other than cancellations.
“So the announcement is welcome news for a lot of people, that we will be past this nightmare and enjoying shows again in the foreseeable future.”
Meyer hopes that the Backstreet Boys concert scheduled for last August at the Arena and Cher’s show slated for last October will be rescheduled. “I don’t want to reschedule the Backstreet Boys again,” Meyer said. “But the shows will only work financially if we can have the potential to be at capacity.”
So when is it likely for arenas to be able to host a full house?
“I’d say 2022 is a safe bet for full-capacity shows, but actually many feel like we could get there sooner, maybe as soon as late summer or fall of this year for some tours and artists,” Waddell said. “Plenty of artists are ready to go, and most fans will support them, but the industry is at the mercy of factors beyond their control.
“Live music will follow the lead of what is happening in professional sports. When they can go full-capacity, so can concerts. The industry is anticipating success for live entertainment when it does return.”
The more intimate venues will open sooner than large arenas. Spokane Comedy Club owner Adam Norwest is looking forward to his venue hosting comedy.
“We feel good about where things are now,” Norwest said while calling from his Tacoma home. “When we enter the next phase, we can open. It seems like it’ll be the first time in forever that we can reopen. We can’t wait for any kind of normalcy.”
Even when venues reopen, expect a new set of protocols.
“There will be a different infrastructure at our venues,” Meyer said. “We don’t have all of the details now, but when we do have that all set up, we’ll have an informational campaign. When that campaign goes out, it’ll be an exciting time since live music will soon follow. It’s something that we all miss.”
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