Eurovision hero Sam Ryder to be star of summer festival season as gig offers pour in
Sam Ryder was expecting to be a warm up act and sideshow but after his Eurovision success he is set to become a star of the summer festival season. Gig offers for shows across Europe and Asia are flying in now that the Essex singer has ended decades of UK Eurovision failure by finishing second in Saturday’s competition with his song Space Man. Prescient festivals, which booked Ryder months ago on the back of his huge TikTok following, are now revising their bills.
Ryder is currently booked to play a secondary tent at the Truck festival in Oxfordshire in July, where headliners Kasabian and Sam Fender will entertain fans on the larger main outdoor stage. “As soon as the votes started flowing in I joked, ‘We’re gonna need a bigger tent…’ But it appears it might not be a joke now,” Conor Burns, Truck festival Organiser told i. Ryder could be asked to repeat his performance on the main stage.
“We’ve had some many emails and tweets since Saturday asking for his exact time and stage as people don’t want to miss him,” said Burns, who booked Ryder last September after seeing the huge reaction to the lockdown cover versions the singer posted on TikTok.
Ryder is also set for a boost at Standon Calling, in Hertfordshire, headlined by Madness and Anne-Marie. His name was squeezed on to the bottom line of a bill, below Abba tribute band Bjorn Again, 90s star Gabrielle and children’s entertainers Dick and Dom. With Space Man soaring into the UK top three after Ryder’s spectacular performance in Turin, the song is set to become a singalong anthem with festivalgoers.
Where past Eurovision contenders have returned to obscurity, Ryder’s management believes the competition can now deliver an unmatched career launch-pad.
The final is the most-watched TV music event in the world, boasting 200 million live viewers. Last year’s winners, Italian goth-pop band Maneskin have enjoyed huge international success, winning MTV awards and touring with The Rolling Stones. After initial reservations, Ryder, already signed to the Parlophone record label, part of Warner Music Group, and who released his debut EP The Sun’s Gonna Rise in 2021, realised that Eurovision could confer credibility on a singer rather than career-ending humiliation.
Ryder, 32, told Zoe Ball on her Radio 2 Breakfast Show that his immediate plans include “tons of festivals this year, tour dates just gone up around Europe”. He has also accepted offers to perform in South Korea.
But the musician is desperate to show that he can follow up Space Man, the soaring pastiche of Elton John and Queen, written a year before the competition with Amy Wadge, who has crafted hits with Ed Sheeran. Ryder, who caught the attention of Alicia Keys and Justin Bieber with his TikTok covers, said he is working on the mix of a new single.
The most successful act launched by Eurovision remains 1974 winners, ABBA. Bucks Fizz rode the wave of their 1981 victory, scoring three number one singles and becoming one of the decade’s top-selling acts. The last UK winners, Love Shine a Light singers Katrina & The Waves in 1997, who had previously enjoyed a hit with Walking On Sunshine, split up a year later amid inter-band disagreements.
Coming an honourable second may be the best outcome for Ryder. Irish singer Niamh Kavanagh, who won Eurovision with In Your Eyes in 1993, worked in her local Tesco to support her family during the pandemic. “Being a national treasure for 27 years doesn’t qualify you for much on paper,” she observed. A charismatic personality who has radiated joy during his Eurovision campaign, Ryder could also pursue a career in TV and radio presenting, if his music career stalls.
His powerful voice, with its operatic echoes of Freddie Mercury, would also recommend Ryder for leading West End musical theatre roles. Space Man, the most downloaded song of the week so far, is on course to become the first Eurovision to hit Number 1 in the UK since Gina G’s Ooh Ahh (Just A Little Bit) in 1996. He told BBC’s Radio 4 that it had been the “most rewarding experience ever” and said “that experience started way before the scoreboard”.
He said: “We were sat there in the green room and absolutely engulfed in the energy of that arena, it was like being in a church because there was so much joy. “I’m sitting there with my friends who are also my team and that’s just so lucky. I’ve just been swept up in the joy that is Eurovision, I’m just so excited.”
Gatecrashing the Radio 4 Today programme on his return to the UK, Ryder said he was not disappointed that Ukraine pipped him to the top spot when the public votes were totted up. “They needed to win that.
They were always going to win that.
“It’s so important that we use the platform of Eurovision to celebrate solidarity and to shine light into darkness,” he said.