As the COVID-19 pandemic leads to more concert postponements in Toronto — notably K-pop band BTS’ two nights on May 30-31 at Rogers Centre and Roger Waters’ two evenings at Scotiabank Arena on July 17-18 — the chances of the city’s outdoor summer concert season starting on time is looking slim.
In fact, a new Billboard cover story suggests touring won’t start back up again until at least July.
This year’s Budweiser Stage was supposed to launch its outdoor season May 21 with The 1975, but the British band announced on Twitter on March 18 that they had to reschedule their North American tour “for the health and safety of fans and crew.”
Live Nation Ontario is advising ticket holders to keep checking online for show status.
“We are working with each artist and event to determine what feels right given current status of things in different regions and various recommendations from officials,” said Live Nation in a statement.
“While we don’t have a blanket rule, we’re committed to doing what’s right and will continue to adjust as needed. The good news is the vast majority of shows are rescheduling and will play when they can.”
Already postponing spring T.O.-and-area stops have been the Rolling Stones (New Era Field, in Orchard Park, N.Y., on June 6 was the closest date), Pearl Jam (March 18 at Scotiabank Arena was their tour launch), Elton John (March 28-29 at Scotiabank Arena), James Taylor (April 27 at Scotiabank Arena), and outright cancelling spring-summer plans was Zac Brown Band (March 15 at Scotiabank Arena and again June 12 at Budweiser Stage).
“I held out hope that we might find a way to make it happen — dream on,” Taylor said on his Twitter account when his entire Canadian tour was postponed, although T.O. is expected to be rescheduled. (He since has made a donation to the Boston hospital where he was born — $1 million US — to fight COVID-19).
Casinos were ordered closed by the province in mid-March and Casino Rama has a running list on their web page of postponed shows in the next two months including the Beach Boys (April 10-11), Melissa Etheridge (April 17), Gordon Lightfoot (April 18), Tony Bennett (May 1), Michael Bolton (May 3), and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (May 16.)
But the big new is that Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, who were meant to launch their 2020 trek on May 29-30 at Casino Rama, just moved their whole tour to 2021 due to the pandemic.
“This is very difficult for me,” said Starr in a statement.
“In 30 years I think I’ve only missed 2 or 3 gigs, nevermind a whole tour.”
Among the Fallsview shows postponed are Alice Cooper w/Lita Ford (March 31,) Brad Paisley (April 2,) Jason Derulo (April 9,) and Alison Krauss (May 1.)
Luminato’s June 11-28 festival in T.O. has been outright cancelled and big shows supposed to be heading our way in May include Niall Horan and Lewis Capaldi (May 6 at Scotiabank Arena) and Foo Fighters (May 20, Hamilton’s FirstOntario Coliseum.)
Many A-list artists have been staging concerts online either to connect with fans or fundraise but how do the club-level and emerging musicians — not to mention smaller promoters — make any money during this touring downtime even if, in some cases, donations are an option on social media sites.
The Toronto-based Unison Benevolent Fund, which is open to anyone who has worked in the Canadian music industry for two years, typically gets about five requests a week for emergency financial assistance ($1,000 or more) and/or counselling.
“We have seen a very dramatic increase,” said Unison’s executive director Amanda Power.
“On Monday, I had over 400 people register with Unison in 24 hours – which is a lot. Everybody is hopeful by May-June things will be back up. My personal opinion is we will not see anything going on until mid-summer at the earliest – so July.”