Promoters of Italy’s Lucca Summer Festival (LSF) have spoken to IQ about the return of the star-studded concert series.
Justin Bieber became the latest headliner to be confirmed for the month-long LSF in Tuscany earlier this week. The Canadian singer will perform a 40,000-cap show in the Mura Storiche area, next to the Lucca City Walls, on 31 July. He joins a 2022 line-up already featuring Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets (25 June), Liam Gallagher + Kasabian (6 July), John Legend (9 July) and Robert Plant + Alison Krauss (14 July), with Celine Dion confirmed for 15 July next year.
With the 2020 and 2021 festivals falling victim to the pandemic, Enrico D’Alessandro of event promoter D’Alessandro e Galli (Di and Gi) tells IQ he is looking forward to making up for lost time.
“Since we work mostly with international artists, it was very difficult for us to do even the smaller gigs, so we remained totally still for a couple of years,” he says. “Last year, there were limits on capacity – events were only permitted up to 1,000 people, which was too low for us to work. We thought about putting on a special edition, with a smaller capacity, but it didn’t feel right, so we preferred to wait.
“Now we’re excited to go back promoting live music, but we’re excited for the audience as well, because we know that these upcoming events will have a different flavour, it will be like a rebirth in some ways.”
A number of the headline acts for LSF 2022, which will also utilise a second, 8,000-cap venue, had been booked to play two years ago. But organisers were forced to admit defeat in their bid to reschedule a Paul McCartney show, originally slated for June 2020.
“That was a dream we had chased for so many years and we were very close, but unfortunately we had to face the reality of the situation,” sighs D’Alessandro. “We were able to save some of those shows, but it really hurts to to have lost McCartney.”
“We’re trying to expand the festival to a younger audience”
The addition of Bieber signals a change in tack for the festival, which has welcomed the likes of the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder and Ennio Morricone since launching in 1998.
“At the beginning, it was hard to convince artists to choose a small little city in Tuscany over major cities. But now, thank God, sometimes the agent and the artists even ask us to play because word has spread,” says D’Alessandro. “Lucca has always had an adult audience, so we try to book the biggest music legends and give the audience the opportunity to enjoy big artists, who you would normally see in stadiums or arenas, in this tiny square in the heart of Tuscany, surrounded by trees.
“We like to keep this flavour for the festival because we know that the foreign audience loved it. There were cases when the foreign audience was the majority of the audience – with Tom Jones and Van Morrison, more than 50% of the audience came from abroad.
“This year, we’re going to satisfy that kind of audience with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, John Legend or Nick Mason, but we’re trying to expand the festival to a younger audience. That is something we’d started doing in the past – we had Imagine Dragons, Green Day, Queens of the Stone Age. Bieber is probably the biggest around in that specific [youth] market, and we are excited to be chosen among the very few festivals he is playing this summer. For us, it’s a privilege, and we are excited to welcome audience members from every part of Europe.”
He adds: “Also, to celebrate the comeback of live shows, we wanted to have more domestic artists than usual, so we’re going to do six or seven shows with the biggest domestic artists around.”
The LSF team has also announced the launch of new 10,000-cap Tuscany festival La Prima Estate, which will run from 21-26 June. Located just 50 metres from the sea in Bussola Domani Park in Lido Di Camaiore, Versilia, it will host four international artists each night. Headline acts include The National, Duran Duran, Bonobo, Courtney Barnett, Jungle and Mura Masa.
With Italian prime minister Mario Draghi announcing the country will exit its state of emergency on 31 March, D’Alessandro is filled with hope about the forthcoming season.
“We should have full capacity for open air events instantly, so we are very confident that this summer will look like 2019 – at least for open air events,” he says. “We don’t know yet if the green [vaccine] pass will be needed. It looks like it will be needed until mid June but we don’t have certainty on that yet. Of course, we understand that indoor events are the ones at bigger risk, but let’s hope we won’t have any bad variants and the situation will stay under control.”
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