The former Mean Fiddler man refashioned the British festival business. Now he's talking about his comeback.Vince Power's new mantra, "Back to basics," should be enough to make the touring biz sit up and take notice.

Power, after all, is the man who built the U.K. live music empire Mean Fiddler Music Group (MFMG), which began in 1982 with a single club and ended up controlling a huge swath of festivals and live music venues.

Born into a rural family in 1947 in County Waterford, Ireland, Power moved to London at age 16. He ventured into the secondhand furniture business, but his love of music led him to invest in a derelict former drinking club in Harlesden, north London. He renamed it the Mean Fiddler and it launched him into the music promotion world.

Power effectively refashioned the British festival business in 1989, when he transformed Reading Festival from an ailing heavy metal event into an alternative rock powerhouse, incorporating a twin site in Leeds in 1999. Power's portfolio also included the Fleadh and Phoenix festivals, with MFMG becoming operational manager of Glastonbury in 2002.

Having sold his stake in MFMG in 2005, Power is now back in the U.K. festival business, with the July 6 30,000-capacity Day at the Hop Farm festival, headlined by Neil Young. He also has a controlling interest in Spain's Benicassim festival and a string of small venues and bars.

As he settles down to talk in his unprepossessing offices off the Kilburn High Road, it's evident that the back-to-basics approach applies to more than the no-sponsorship/no premium ticket stance of his festival, and Power is reveling in his refound status as an independent operator.

After three years away, you're back on the festival scene. Why now?

I just love organizing festivals. It's a challenge again—and I'm not ready to keel over just yet. With the Mean Fiddler [Music Group], we had a huge amount of stuff which we did—live music festivals, dance festivals, bars, tours—and when I sold it out three years ago, it had got to the stage that it was huge. It was a [public limited company], it [had] £80 million [$158 million] [in revenue], and I lost the sort of touch that I have now, the hands-on touch. I looked at retiring for about two weeks. [laughs] That didn't really work for me.

Click here to read more about Power's back-to-basics approach, why he's independent in an age of live business consolidation and whether he'd like to start his own label.

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