THE organiser of T in the Park has vowed that the curtain-raiser he is masterminding for the Ryder Cup golf tournament will surpass anything else he has worked on before.
Geoff Ellis, the chief executive of DF Concerts, which is staging the concert at the Hydro arena in Glasgow, believes the show is to be the most spectacular ever staged in Scotland.
Ellis, one of Scotland’s leading event organisers over the last two decades, was speaking as it was confirmed that Scotland’s leading classical music outfit would be staging one-off performances with disco legend Nile Rodgers, singer-songwriters Midge Ure and Amy Macdonald, and pop-rock outfit Texas.
The show on 24 September, which will be staged two days before the eagerly-awaited golf tournament gets underway at Gleneagles, will see the American and European players in the tournament played onto the stage during a special sequence performed by bagpipe group the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who have previously starred at T in the Park.
Much-loved 1980s Scottish pop outfit Danny Wilson will be reforming specially for the concert, which will also feature current indie darlings Twin Atlantic and folk singer Eddi Reader.
Scottish Opera will be performing a special arrangement of Hamish Henderson’s anthem “Freedom Come All Ye,” two months after it was memorably sung by South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Ellis revealed that both BBC and Sky would be broadcasting highlights from the concert, which will run for almost four hours.
However he said there had been a deliberate move to ensure the event, which will be budget in excess of £1 million, is a live spectacle for the thousands inside the Hydro, which will be celebrating its first birthday next month, rather than “a TV show.”
The Glasgow-based promoter said ticket prices had been pegged at between £35 and £55 to ensure ordinary fans of the artists on the bill were not priced out of the event.
He pointed out that it would be the only opportunity for golf fans to their heroes in the flesh if they do not have tickets for the tournament.
Ellis said: “I think this is going to be the best concert we’ve ever produced.
“Obviously T in the Park is on a different scale and has a bigger volume of bands, but for something that’s just for one night, with a curated line-up, this is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.
“You’ll have Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera, the National Theatre of Scotland and the RSNO all performing under the one roof for the first time ever.
“The depth and variety on offer will be a proper smorgasbord of art and culture. It will be a full-on night and fantastic value for money.
“We are probably charging a bit lower than we could have done, but we’re conscious that people have spent a fortune on the Commonwealth Games and tickets for the opening ceremony were bloody expensive.”
Among the expected highlights of the how will be Rodgers performing some of his classic hits with the RSNO, including Chic’s chart-toppers Good Times and Le Freak, as well as last year’s hit Get Lucky, which he recorded with Daft Punk.
The orchestra will also be backing Macdonald, one of the stars of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, on her song “Mr Rock & Roll”, as well as “Vienna”, the huge hit Midge Ure notched up with Ultravox in 1982.
Ellis said: “It’s not going to be like a normal gig with several support acts and a headliner who play their biggest hit as the last song of the night.
“We felt it was important to do a show that tickets were sold for, rather than one of those TV shows that is is a free ticket, but is a bit crap when you turn up on the night.
“We wanted to make it primarily a live show that will work for television. We are all about the live experience, that’s where our expertise is.”
Ellis revealed that the Scottish Opera rendition of “Freedom Come All Ye” was aimed at providing a crucial link between the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games.
He said: “We wanted to create a bit of a segue between the Commonwealth Games, which created a huge feel-good factor into the next big event, the Ryder Cup, which will not be back in Scotland in my lifetime.
“Pumeza did a fantastic job at the Commonwealth Games, but this time it’s going to be Scottish Opera, backed by the RSNO.”
Ellis said he had fulfilled a major ambition by landing Rodgers - one of the most successful producers and composers in the music business - for the Ryder Cup event, revealing that he had failed to secure him as one of the headliners for this year’s T in the Park.
He added: “We really wanted to have an American act.
“Although we wanted to celebrate everything that is great about Scotland, it was never going to be all Scottish acts, which is why we’ve got Jake Bugg and someone else we’re hoping to announce in the next few days.
“Nile Rodgers is one of the people I’ve always wanted to work with throughout my career.
“We were speaking to his management and asking if there was any way he would come over for this but it was looking tough as he had just finished touring, but we really wanted to make it work.
“After we explained the scale of the concert and that he would be performing with the RSNO we were told that if we provide the arrangement charts for some of his songs he would love to do it.
“He will be coming along as the American representative on the bill and I’m sure he’ll quite like the idea of that and will be wanting to outdo everyone else on the bill.”
Michael Elliott, chief executive of the RSNO, said: “It is an honour to be invited to perform a central role in the Ryder Cup gala concert, alongside our fellow national performing companies, but also with a star-studded collection of contemporary music legends.
“In recent years the RSNO has collaborated with a number of pop, rock and folk musicians, but the line-up for this celebration promises to raise the bar and kick off one of the world’s great sporting tournaments in style.”