Coldplay Countersue Ex-Manager, Claiming He Let Tour Costs Rise Out of Control

The band blamed Dave Holmes for the purchase of expensive, but unusable equipment ahead of their Music of the Spheres tour

Coldplay fired back at their former manager, Dave Holmes, accusing him of allowing touring costs to get out of hand and taking out massive loans from Live Nation without the band’s knowledge. 

Last Friday, as NME reports (via The Times), the band filed a counter-claim in London’s High Court, responding to a lawsuit Holmes originally filed last month. Holmes — who split with Coldplay after 20 years back in August — originally sued the band last month for about $12 million in unpaid commission. Holmes accused Coldplay of backing out of a promised contract regarding their next two albums, and of trying to demote him from manager to head of touring. 

In response, Coldplay claimed Holmes owed them £14 million (about $17 million) in damages, blaming him for a variety of mistakes that cost the band millions during their tour in support of their last album, Music Of the Spheres. The group alleged that before the start of the tour, costs “escalated rapidly,”and Holmes “fail[ed] adequately to supervise and control the tour budget at all times,” ultimately costing the band a reported extra £17.5 million (about $21 million).

The band said issues included the purchase of allegedly unsuitable equipment, like “16 bespoke stage pylons” for about $11 million. There was also a “visual project known as Jet Screen” that Holmes allegedly signed off on for about $9.7 million. Dimensions given to the manufacturer for the Jet Screen project were, however, incorrect, and Coldplay was apparently only able to use the oversized screen during 10 shows in Buenos Aires. 

Additionally, Coldplay said Holmes used his relationship with the band to secure two massive loans from Live Nation. The first was for about $20 million in 2015, the second for about $10 million in 2018 (both had an interest rate of 2.72 percent a year). The band claimed Holmes used this money “to fund a property development venture” in Vancouver, which they called “profitable.” 

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The filing claims it can be “inferred” that Holmes “was only able to acquire” these loans “by virtue of his position as Coldplay’s manager.” It also goes on to state that Holmes’ debt to Live Nation would have “potentially or actually [conflicted]” with his duties to maintain a good working relationship with the concert promotion giant. But, the suit states, Holmes also had a “personal interest in maintaining the best possible relations with Live Nation in order to ensure he would have leverage in the event that he required any form of indulgence by reference to the loan terms.”

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A rep for Coldplay did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. A spokesperson for Holmes tells Rolling Stone, “Coldplay knows they’re in trouble with their defense. Accusing Dave Holmes of non-existent ethical lapses and other made-up misconduct will not deflect from the real issue at hand: Coldplay had a contract with Dave, they are refusing to honor it and they need to pay Dave what they owe him.”

Live Nation also reportedly issued a statement saying it had “a strong and longstanding relationship with Coldplay.” The company added, “Any past dealings with their management team were considered an extension of this relationship.”

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