A special day: interview with Fran Tomasi, promoter

Fran Tomasiby Massimo Bran
Following the now long-distant Redentore festival of 1989 with the Pink Floyd concert in Venice, an event of such enormous impact as to represent a veritable watershed in contemporary Venetian history, David Gilmour returns to Venice for two concerts in St. Mark’s Square. We interviewed Fran Tomasi last July concerning U2, given his close friendship with Bono, to gain a sense of the temperature of rock’n’roll in stadiums of the 21st century. Given the special occasion, we interview him again here, as it is he who is organising the Gilmour concert in Venice, just as it was he who arranged the original Pink Floyd concert.
In your history as promoter, how does that day fit in from a human point of view, with regard to positive and negative feelings?

It marks an unforgettable day in my career: a visionary project, and a difficult challenge from both a technical and political point of view. My feelings were contrasting: on the one side, the great satisfaction for having realised an extraordinary event that will remain in the history of music, and on the other, the regret that I was unable to sense the disastrous trap that was being created. From a professional point of view, instead, it was the most complex project I’ve ever realised, and it was possible thanks to a close-knit and enthusiastic team.

How did the group regard the situation? Did they understand the difficulties, the extraordinary complexity of the thing, or did they just see it as one of the many events they have held?

Apart from the preoccupation for the safety of the public, they were really pumped up. We all realised that we were doing something really special and unique. So together, all of us, we suffered the frustration and disappointment the next day: the change in direction of the newspapers, first wowing the great event and then - for days and days - condemning the ‘disaster’, the hunt for a faceless criminal, the “never again”; how, they fell in line with the rules of marketing and selling rather than with a professional deontology which would have required a more serious investigation into the facts.

The idea of closing the circle with a concert by Gilmour in this same Square, with a smaller-scale event, seems perfect...

Many see this Gilmour concert as a return, a sort of reparation for the 1989 concert. I cannot hide the fact that we too had this thought for a moment or two. The truth is, however, that they are two completely different events. This is how I see it, and how Gilmour certainly sees it and also how the mayor and his administration see it. For us, it is once again a pleasure to bring a great event to this magnificent city. David is enthusiastic and the Council initially accepted the proposal with caution but then showed itself extremely collaborative, providing support and balance in handling every aspect which might have the two parties on opposing sides.

written by Massimo Bran
august 2006

Tr. Lucian Comoy

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