Rolling Stones satisfy promoters, audience

SATISFACTION. The Rolling Stones have had trouble locating it, but it was the feeling that washed over Hope Estate’s Michael Hope on Saturday night when he looked out at 19,000 people.

It was The Rolling Stones first ever winery show and the biggest concert the Hunter has ever seen. The production was bigger than Fleetwood Mac in 2009, the one-off show more electrifying than weekend visits from Elton John in 2011 and Bruce Springsteen earlier this year.

‘‘The operation was huge, with more than 1000 backstage crew, security, police, bar and food staff, ushers, traffic controllers, camera operators and bus drivers,’’ Mr Hope said. 

‘‘The stage roof was 56 metres long, a normal stage is about 25 metres. 

‘‘So not only are they the biggest band in the world they were playing on the biggest stage I had ever seen.’’

Tickets went from $150 for general admission to package deals for $1475, with the conservative total revenue from ticket sales believed to be more than $7 million. Not to mention the estimated $13 million that was injected into the local community over the weekend - money spent on accommodation, at cellar doors and restaurants. 

But Mr Hope said the unmeasurable element was the ‘‘buzz’’ of having The Rolling Stones in the Hunter. 

‘‘It was very satisfying looking out over all those people,’’ he said. ‘‘Years and years of hard work had culminated in having the world’s greatest rock band playing in our little winery. It was just surreal.’’

The Stones were rumoured to have stayed in Sydney on Saturday night and flown in and out of nearby Cessnock Airport for the show. 

While the thousands of patrons were forced to make their way home through the windy network of roads in Hunter Valley wine country. 

‘‘It was the most buses we’ve ever had turn up to a concert, 220,’’ Mr Hope said. 

‘‘We are really working on the message to get people out of their cars and into the buses.

‘‘As for the people who email in to say traffic was abysmal and we need to do something about it, we have been working with police, RMS and council for six years and if you’ve got a better suggestion then please let us know. I don’t think people realise the resources we throw at it, we had police and traffic controllers, but we are constrained by the local road network. It was the first concert we’ve held since the Hunter Expressway opened and we were interested to see how it would affect things. The net result was traffic flowed better and people didn’t have to go through Cessnock.’’

Mr Hope admitted The Rolling Stones would be difficult to top, but hinted at the desire to lure big stadium bands like U2 and Coldplay into a more intimate venue.