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The Earls Court Exhibition Centre is an exhibition centre, conference and event venue located in West London, Englandmarker on the boundary between the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelseamarker and Hammersmith and Fulhammarker. It is the second largest exhibition venue in London. It is served by two underground stations, Earl's Courtmarker and West Bromptonmarker, opposite its entrances on Warwick Road and the Old Brompton Road.

Earls Court and nearby Olympiamarker are operated by EC&O Venues.

Construction

Earls Court was largely a waste ground for many years. With the introduction of two stations, it became a mass network of rail on derelict grounds. The idea of introducing entertainment to the grounds was brought about by an entrepreneur called John Robinson Whitley who used the land as a show ground for many years. Whitley did not profit from his efforts, yet his desire had decided the future of Earls Court and its purpose in later years. In the late 19th century the site had been home to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and a huge observation wheel. A plaque in the press centre commemorates both of these facts and that Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor to the show.

In 1935 the land was sold and the new owners decided to construct a show centre to rival any other in the world and to dominate the nearby Olympiamarker exhibition hall. The plan was to create Europe's largest structure by volume. The project did not go exactly to plan; it ran over budget and was late in completion. Earls Court finally opened its door to the public for the Chocolate and Confectionery Exhibition on 1 September 1937. It was designed by architect C. Howard Crane. The Motor Show and Commercial Vehicle show soon followed. In spite of all the problems in the latter part of construction, the project was completed at a cost of £1.5 million. This building is now usually referred to as Earls Court One. It has 41,811 square metres of space on two levels.

Earls Court Two

In response to the drastic need to increase Earls Court's exhibition space, Earls Court Two was constructed at a cost of £100m. The striking new barrel-roofed hall which links with Earls Court One via folding shutters is large enough to hold four jumbo jets, and the hall's 17,000 square metre floor is entirely column-free. The hall was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales on 17 October 1991 for the Motorfair. Earls Court 2 is situated on part of the former Lillie Bridgemarker.

Demolition Plans

As of August 2009 owners of Earls Court and Olympia have revealed plans for demolition and replacement with housing and office space.

Music concerts

It is still one of the most popular arenas to play in the UK, with a capacity of around 19,000, including standing room, meaning it is often chosen over other venues by bands with a large fan base. Musicians who have played at the venue include:Listed in chronological order with name of artist and date of concert

  • Pink Floyd performed The Dark Side of the Moon suite on 18/19 May 1973 to two sell out gigs. The band also played six nights 4-9 August 1980 for its performances of The Wall. The exercise was repeated one year later as the band played five nights 13-17 June 1981 for attempts at filming and recording the live Wall performances, which were later released on Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81. In 1994 the band played on 14 October their first of a record-breaking 14 nights at this venue and was filmed and recorded on P•U•L•S•E & P•U•L•S•E . However one night of the concert was forced to be cancelled, after a section of seating in the arena collapsed during the show, injuring several people.
  • Slade performed to 19,000 on 1 July 1973. The show was filmed but has never been released.
  • Led Zeppelin performed for five sold out nights in May 1975. Footage from the concerts was filmed and was released twenty eight years later on the Led Zeppelin DVD. This series of concerts is widely considered by fans to be amongst the best of the band's career.
  • The Rolling Stones performed six nights of 21-23 May and 24-26 May 1976 as part of their "Tour of Europe '76"
  • Queen performed 6/7 June 1977 and filmed footage has been widely bootlegged.
  • Genesis performed on 23-25 June 1977, six sold out shows in November 1992 (videoed for The Way We Walk DVD) and one show in 1998.
  • Dire Straits performed On Every Street Tour on 6 April and 6 June 1992.
  • Whitney Houston performed three consecutive nights (5-7 November 1993) during her 1993/94 world tour.
  • Supertramp performed three nights in May 1983 on their Famous Last Words tour which was their final tour with member Roger Hodgson.
  • Oasis performed on 4/5 November 1995; some of their performance was included in ...There and Then. They performed there again, on 25-27 September 1997, supported by The Verve.
  • The Who performed Quadrophenia on 6/7 December 1996.
  • Celine Dion performed on 13/14 June 1997 at the end of her successful Falling into You Tour 8 months after the 15 day Sell Out UK tour in 1996. On Completing these dates she had sung to 200,000 fans in the UK.
  • R.E.M. performed on 22/23 June 1999 as part of their 'Up' tour
  • Spice Girls performed five nights in December 1999 as part of the 'Christmas In Spiceworld' tour, including their last concert as a band, until their reunion tour in 2007.
  • Iron Maiden performed in June 2000 as part of their "Brave New World" tour in support of their reunion album Brave New World and returned in December 2003 as part of their "Death on the Road" tour which was in support of the album Dance of Death. And twice again on 22 and 23 December 2006 as the final dates of their A Matter of Life and Death world tour.
  • U2 performed 4 sold out shows during August 2001 on their Elevation Tour.
  • Madonna played 6 consecutive sold out shows at the venue as part of her 2001 Drowned World Tour, and played 2 sell out concerts again, on her 2004 Re-Invention World Tour.
  • Westlife performed 5 shows from 28 May to 1 June 2002.
  • Paul McCartney performed 19 April 2003
  • Radiohead performed on 26/27 November 2003
  • Fleetwood Mac performed on 29/30 November and 10 December 2003
  • Stereophonics performed 16/17 December 2003
  • Metallica performed on 12 October 1996 as part of the Poor Touring Me tour and again on 19 and 20 December 2003 as there only UK indoor dates on the Madly In Anger With The World Tour.
  • Morrissey performed 18 December 2004 and later released as Live at Earls Court.
  • Muse performed on 19 and 20 December 2004 and later released some of the video footage on their Absolution Tour DVD in 2005.
  • Kylie Minogue played 7 consecutive sold out shows from 30 April to 2 May and 4-7 May 2005
  • Coldplay performed 14-16 December 2005.
  • Foo Fighters performed 17 and 18 December 2005
  • Duran Duran played on 22 and 23 December 2005, as the final dates of the Astronaut world tour.
  • Give it a Name festival was held on 29 and 30 April 2006
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers performed 14, 15, 17 and 18 July 2006. All concerts were sold out
  • George Michael performed from 25 to 29 November 2006
  • Kasabian played on 19 December 2006.
  • Razorlight played on 8 April 2007.
  • Give it a Name festival was held there on 27, 28 and 29 April 2007.
  • Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd played his Dark Side of the Moon tour on 11/12 May 2007, the latter gig included Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.
  • Kaiser Chiefs played two nights on 14 and 15 December 2007.
  • Give it a Name festival was held at Earl's Court on 10 and 11 May 2008. Headliners included Paramore, 30 Seconds to Mars, Plain White T's and Billy Talent.
  • Janet Jackson was supposed to perform two nights in a row at the venue on 11 and 12 December 2001 during her All for You Tour. Eventually, the entire European leg of the highly anticipated tour was cancelled for security reasons as a consequence of 9/11.


Exhibitions and shows

Earls Court hosts many shows and exhibitions throughout the year, including the Ideal Home Show and the BRIT Awards. The MPH Show, one of Britain's largest motoring exhibitions and shows, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson and other famous presenters takes place here each winter, alongside an earlier showing at the NEC, Birmingham. Each summer from 1950 to 1999 Earls Court Exhibition Centre was home to the Royal Tournament, the first, oldest and biggest military tattoo in the world.

The Professional Lighting and Sound Association have their annual trade show, the PLASA Show, at Earls Court. It's usually held in early September and thousands of people from the entertainment and design industries come together to meet representatives from entertainment equipment companies, such as Martin, Midas Consoles, Avolites and Vari*Lite.

Sport and sports entertainment

Earls Court will host the volleyball competitions in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The volleyball events were scheduled for the multi-sport arenas in the Olympic Parkmarker.

It housed two World Wrestling Entertainment Insurrextion shows in 2000 and 2001. These were initially shown on live pay-per-view exclusively to the United Kingdommarker on Sky Digital, then later released worldwide on DVD. Earls Court has also hosted WWE's worldwide TV shows, RAW, SmackDown! and ECW on 23 and 24 April 2007. On the RAW show former Chelsea football coach Jose Mourinho (who was shown on screen then booed loudly by the crowd) and former radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn were in attendance. Both events were broadcast to a capacity crowd.

References

  1. http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/wales/government/en/1115316723620.html
  2. Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, p. 111.


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