The Montreux Jazz Festival has returned to the big crowds of the pre-Covid era. Its 56th edition, which ends on Saturday night, welcomed more than 250,000 people. The quality of the 2022 poster, a redesigned website and 16 consecutive days of sunshine explain this success.
“The gods of the show and the weather were with us this year,” said MJF boss Mathieu Jaton to the press on Friday. “I am delighted, radiant, overjoyed. I have so many emotions after two years of pandemic and uncertainty, he said on stage at the new Memphis club in the new Montreux Lake House, before breaking down and bursting into tears.
After broadcasting a ‘best of’ the fortnight on video, Mathieu Jaton had time to come to his senses and continue with the key characters of this 2022 edition ‘outside the norm’ rather than ‘back to normal’. With a total of more than 250,000 festival-goers on sixteen sunny days – “as people demand” – attendance is in the “high range, even bordering on MJF attendance records,” said its big boss.
On Friday, the day before the final night, the festival hit its ticket budget. With 17 sold-out concerts – ten at the Auditorium Stravinski (4,000 seats) and seven at the Montreux Jazz Lab (2,000 seats) – and an “exceptional” occupancy rate of 85%, this edition has had “one of the best attendances” paid cinemas in the last decade said Mathieu Jaton.
From July 1st to 16th, the event featured around 70 artists across its two paid stages including a-ha, Nick Cave, Björk, Paolo Nutini, Gregory Porter, Jacques and Thomas Dutronc, Diana Ross, Woodkid, Maneskin, The Smile, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Ibrahim Maalouf, Jeff Beck with Johnny Depp or even Herbie Hancock close on Saturday night.
The director’s favorites for this 56th edition? “Spontaneously three slaps in the face: the concerts by the Romande Emilie Zoé, the American Marc Rebillet and the Israeli Asaf Avidan”.
In total, about 550 concerts and musical activities with no fewer than 3,000 musicians were programmed on paid and free stages, including more than 450 concerts of the “off” festival. 30 concerts were broadcast live on the internet (live streaming). In its new format, the MJF offered eleven free stages, including the new Ipanema, an open-air electro nightclub.
Finances are smiling too
If these numbers make you dizzy in the heatwave, what they do most of all evoke is the audience’s “radiant reunion” with the MJF “in a reinvented format.” “The magic of the MJF has worked again,” says his boss happily. He praised the “extraordinary enthusiasm of the audience” who “totally appropriated the new free seats”.
On the financial side, too, the balance sheet looks encouraging. The budget of 27 million francs for this 2022 edition, almost the equivalent of the budget for the pre-Covid 2019 edition, is being respected. The accounts will be balanced or even safely in the black, the director said. With such sunny weather, food and beverage sales far exceeded targets.
Winning bet for the Lake House
Big novelty, the Lake House in the Petit Palais, also fully satisfied the organizers. It is said to transform the free offer and perfectly fulfill its role as a central meeting place for unpaid scenes.
As an incubator for culture and art, the Lake House housed eight rooms, including a library, a cinema, a gallery and even a boudoir. It usually came alive quietly from 5pm, becoming the place to be by the end of the evening and until 5am. The Memphis, with its young jazz artist concerts, and La Coupole, with its jam sessions, were a hit.
This location should become the MJF’s landmark in the future, especially since the 2m2c convention center in Montreux will be renovated in 2024 and 2025. Promising “surprises and wonders” for the 2024 edition, Mathieu Jaton was thus robbed of Stravinsky and the Lab to ensure the MJF “remains in Montreux”.
He does not rule out reinstalling a stage on the shores of Lake Geneva, as during the resized 2021 edition. “More than ever, we want to emphasize the quality and the musical experience of festival-goers,” concludes Mathieu Jaton. The 57th edition of the MJF will take place from June 30 to July 15, 2023.
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