Besides a successful second edition of Live at Chelsea, UK concert promoter Stuart Galbraith also witnessed a “fantastic” Stone Free premiere edition.
The festival took place for the first time June 19-20 at The O2 in London, billing Alice Cooper, Steve Hackett, and others. Rick Wakeman performed a new version of “King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table.” for the first time. and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here Symphonic Orchestra played its first live show at Stone Free. Year one is always about proving the concept, which in the case of Stone Free consisted of classic rock shows in The O2’s lower bowl, as well as a myriad of additional offerings around the arena.
“One of our big concerns was whether people would come down early on, because we were starting midday. They did,” Galbraith, who heads Kilimanjaro Live, told Pollstar. The events happening outside the arena were free and included markets, spoken-word elements, album playbacks, a cinema and a vinyl record fair, which resonated particularly well with the older audience Kilimanjaro was targeting with Stone Free.
At around 4:30 p.m. each day, everybody moved into the arena to witness the rock shows, with 6,500 to 7,000 people each day. Galbraith was still waiting on the exact figures at press time.
His personal highlight was “to see the actual performance by Rick Wakeman. It’s a project that we’ve been talking about for over a year. To finally see that in fruition and being performed for the first time since 1984 – to date this is the only scheduled performance of that piece – was just fantastic,” Galbraith said. The promoter also enjoyed working with bands he had worked with in the past such as Marillion, The Darkness and Steve Hackett.
“To actually have them back on a festival bill is brilliant.” Stone Free No. 2 will take place June 17-18, 2017. “We’re already starting to look at acts for next year,” said Galbraith, who also wants to expand the offerings outside the core program.
Kilimanjaro also ran Live at Chelsea the same weekend for the second year. Besides the inaugural Chelsea fireworks prom, soundtracked by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the event featured shows by Wet Wet Wet and Simply Red.
The hospital grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is where the event takes place, received a £9 million refurbishment over the winter.
“The setting is just stunning now,” according to Galbraith. Besides the musical offering, Live at Chelsea scores with high-end picnic packages and barbecue provided by Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Grill. Another restaurant of the famed chef provided the food for the sit-down VIP packages in the 600-year-old state apartments.