It’s all about family entertainment now for Michael Cohl, the concert tour impresario who has overseen worldwide tours by the Rolling Stones, U2, Michael Jackson, and more. During a 50-minute one-on-one interview at Toronto’s Canadian Music Week with Celebrity Access’ Larry LeBlanc, the former chairman of Live Nation and current founder of S2BN Entertainment capped it off by chatting about the once ill-fated "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" and plugging his new productions and his son’s band.
“We’re working on 'Transformers' and 'Ghostbusters,' just a whole lot of other things,” he says, later adding Broadway shows of "Bat Out Of Hell" and the "Blues Brothers" to the list. “We think there’s a whole opportunity to create new platforms of shows for the baby boomers, grandparents and their kids and their grand kids. But as far as Live Nation goes, I’m getting along great with [Mike] Rapino and Arthur [Fogel]. We had a two-year scrap and we’re best buddies." He mentioned he has re-signed as a consultant for five more years.
S2BN, a diversified international family show and event entertainment company, is also bringing "Spider-Man" to Las Vegas. Next, Cohl says, it will be an arena show. “We know what to do. We’ve got a redesign ready and I think it can be a much better show in an arena. It can be pretty crazy with all that space. It should’ve been an arena show from the beginning. The space in the theatre in this [stretched his arm modestly] and the space in an arena is this [widens his arms].”
“It’s the worst project I’ve ever got involved in and the greatest triumph of my entire career,” Cohl said of "Spider-Man" on Broadway, a show he took over when it had run out of money and opened $55 million in the hole, “without an ending,” no less, which he later came up with, he says. “We’re at three [years] for 'Spider-Man' and we will definitely get five years out of it. Who knows, we could be there for 15.”
Talking about loving the production side because you are “integral to the creation of the piece itself as opposed to taking a piece that someone else brings you,” he said, “The way I described it to my kids was if you want to get into show biz, you might consider -- and none of them has taken me up on it -- if you’re not going to be the guy onstage, which Liam [Cohl] is in a great new band called The Treasures -- look out April 2 Universal -- I have the next best job and if you want to be in entertainment, be in show business. That’s what attracts me to it.”
Alt-country band The Treasures -- which includes concert promoter Michael Cohl's son Liam -- playing a showcase at the Dakota Tavern during Canadian Music Week (Photo: Luther Mallory)
At the Dakota Tavern, during the music festival portion of CMW, The Treasures made an impression with its 40-minute set: a strong image (most of the guys in tasteful embroidered cowboy shirts) and cool alt-country sound in the vein of The Band, Allman Brothers Band and Flying Burrito Brothers. Their agent, Adam Countryman, from The Agency Group, said Michael Cohl approached TAG president Ralph James a couple of years ago about helping the band out.
“We met them through Eli [Cohl, The Treasures’ manager] and his family. Liam plays in the band,” Countryman told Billboard at the venue. “They came to us really young; they had maybe played 10 shows. It must have been two years ago. We started going out to see them and every time we saw them they got better and better. They’ve gone away to Nashville and they’ve recorded in LA.”
The Treasures -- vocalist-guitarist Duncan Davies, lead singer-acoustic guitarist Michael Poskanzer, pedal steel-dobro player Michael Eckert, drummer-singer Galen Pelley and Liam on bass -- release their debut album, Bring The Night Home, on April 2, distributed by Universal Music Canada.
“It’s been a long time for the record,” says Countryman. “They re-recorded a little bit, but they spent a lot of time, as this is their first release, to make sure it worked out well. Being a young band they’ve really developed over the last two years so I think they wanted more time to let that new sound work its way into the album.”