Ed Sheeran in Leeds: Here's why he's the first major artist to play at Roundhay Park since 2006

When Ed Sheeran arrives in Leeds next summer for two outdoor concerts, it will have been 13 years since a major artist played a gig at Roundhay Park.

Friday, 21st September 2018, 11:08 am
Updated Friday, 21st September 2018, 11:12 am

Robbie Williams in 2006 was the last occasion a big name played a stand-alone gig (excluding festivals) at the park, which has a capacity of 70,000.

Yet back in the 1980s and 90s, the venue regularly hosted some of the biggest stars in the history of music.

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In 1987 Madonna played, and in 1988 Michael Jackson made the first of two appearances at Roundhay Park - he returned in 1992.

1989 saw Simple Minds come to the park, and in 1992 the venue hosted Genesis. U2 played twice, in 1993 and 1997.

2006 proved to be the last year big names would hold gigs at the park, with Basement Jaxx and Orson playing before Robbie Williams.

So why has there been a 13-year gap?

Leeds City Council confirmed that they have been approached by concert promoters in the interim, but for various reasons relating to dates and feasibility, none of the proposed events were able to go ahead.

Since 2006, there has been a global recession and a huge shift in the way we consume music, meaning it has become harder for single acts to sell out large venues.

It is expensive to hold a concert in Roundhay Park - the licensing and security costs are high - and promoters are less inclined to take the risk during a time period when downloading and streaming music has become increasingly popular.

The park's location in a residential area also means that large-scale events have to be carefully managed to avoid disruption for those living nearby.

And in 2006, Leeds lacked a large music venue - the First Direct Arena did not open until 2013, although its capacity is significantly less than the park's.

In 2016, live music did make a successful return to Roundhay with the multi-artist OnRoundhay festival, which included James, Primal Scream and Wolf Alice on the bill.