Madonna sings in Amsterdam on July 7. She will perform in Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium on Aug. 4
Only several years ago, international star performers would skip straight from Berlin to Moscow, ignoring the cities in between, except for maybe the occasional gig in Warsaw. No longer.
Now even the biggest names in the game make sure to perform in Kyiv, and even hit such provincial capitals as Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk.
A growing number of internationally acclaimed artists have included Ukraine on their tour routes - Limp Bizkit, Evanescence, Rasmus, The Scorpions, Lara Fabian, Placebo, Apocalyptica, and Elton John. They’ve all appeared in the last couple of years in Ukraine.
This week saw yet another major, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, give a concert in Kyiv. Madonna is coming in early August, while Lenny Kravitz is scheduled to appear in September.
More affluent Ukrainians able to pay for expensive tickets are one factor behind the increased attention, experts say. But so are improvements in the country’s infrastructure – not least of which is construction of decent venues for performances – that make organizing the events more convenient.
“Ukraine is becoming more popular among different pop and rock stars in recent years and it’s also because of audiences that can afford tickets. Thanks to Euro 2012 we have a rather good stage [Olympiysky stadium] for foreign artists to show off and it’s a basic issue for them,” said Lilia Mlynarych, an organizer of the Koktebel Jazz Festival in Crimea.
The stars don’t always come for the traditional concerts, though. Barbados-born pop diva Rihanna performed at Donetsk’s Donbass Arena for the 100th anniversary of local football club Shakhtar, while her Columbian counterpart Shakira sang at the opening ceremony of Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez performed at a wedding of an oligarch’s relative in Crimea last November, which some say costs $1 million for a private show.
Some attribute the stars’ discovery of Ukraine to saturation in the Russian market. “Foreign artists took as much as they could from the Russian show-biz market; they gave so many concerts in Moscow or St.-Petersburg, so now they come to Ukraine,” said Oleg Kovalevskyi, head of Anshlag Concert Agency.
Nonetheless, Ukrainians welcome the presence of international performers, and by all signs the affection is mutual.
“Kyiv, you were a transcendent audience, you truly blew my mind and uplifted things to their highest form, a perfect rock show, lovelovelove,” tweeted Flea, the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, after show on July 25.
Kyiv certainly seems to have made an impression on the blue-haired musician, who sent out more tweets about the city than during previous stages in Moscow and St. Petersburg combined.
“Kiev is blowing my mind what an amazing city. People are warm and nice. Streets are beautiful. Architecture old and hypnotic,” he wrote.
To increase the flow of world pop and rock stars, however, Ukraine will have to improve its copyright laws and crackdown on widespread piracy, said Olga Stelmashevska, director of Del Arte PR, which provides singers giving concerts in Ukraine with PR and advertising service.
“It’s a pity we are far from being a European country in terms of copyright protection,” said Stelmashevska.