Despite my well documented musical penchant for all things heavy metal, like the rest of the UK, I did a hefty ‘double-take’ following the recent announcement that Britney Spears was bringing her much vaunted “Piece of Me” world tour to the Yorkshire coast this summer. Playing one night on the marathon trek in the improbable surroundings of a stage in the middle of a lake, at the open-air theatre in Scarborough’s Peasholm Park.
Originally built in the early 1930’s, a quick Google search reveals much recent modernisation and improvement to the old venue. And a glance at last Friday’s Yorkshire Post newspaper introduced us to the man responsible for this implausible entertainment coup. The incorrigible 36-year-old entrepreneur and promotor - Peter Taylor.
The story goes that ever since taking over the day to day running of the seaside site from the local council a couple of years ago, Taylor has been clocking up the air miles on regular trips to and from Los Angeles. Making each gruelling journey with the single-minded objective of signing up a world-class superstar to headline the 6,500-seat amphitheatre. On each occasion, he’d returned home empty-handed. Until now.
By the sound of it, his initial forays were met with an air of cool indifference from the west coast music-biz fraternity. His numerous overtures resulting in the theatre consistently losing out to established destinations such as London’s O2 Arena, or Hyde Park.
It turned out very few people in Hollywood had heard of Scarborough, or even Yorkshire for that matter! Those who had, were perhaps struggling with the concept of sending their mollycoddled megastars to a land of fish n’ chips and saucy postcards.
But then two things happened. First, he changed his strategy – now cannily marketing the site to the Americans as a sort of “UK equivalent to the iconic Hollywood Bowl” – an alignment he says created an immediately identifiable and positive image in the minds of the booking agents. Secondly, he got a bit of luck.
“We were helped a little by the fact that one of Britney’s people happens to have grown up in Leeds, so he was already very familiar with Scarborough” said Peter to the Yorkshire Post.
I’m sure there are many who would suggest he made a bit of his own luck too, with a doggedly determined approach.
Needless to say, the event sold out amidst much fanfare, within seconds of going on sale last weekend. Which means that Taylor will forever be remembered as: ‘The man who brought Spears to Scarbados’. And for that, he has my unflinching respect.
Now, I wonder if he’d consider booking Def Leppard for next summer?