Column: A life without live music is no life at all

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Why someone has to jump first to kick-start our gig venues

The road back after lockdown was always going to be filled with potholes.

Pulling down the shutters simply halted everything overnight. Re-starting the engines is much more nuanced.

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My first gigs, post lockdown, were only booked a fortnight ago. Last week, they were scrapped.

Live Nation had planned a UK-wide tour of socially distanced, drive-in shows featuring a hosts of big names.

We were booked to see The Lightning Seeds, and also a night of classic Ibiza tunes at Ingliston.

I know – it’s a bonkers jump from chilling to some great sounds with a beer in hand as the sun sets across the rocks on a wonderful island to a scruffy, barren carpark next to an airport, but nothing about 2020 is remotely normal any more.

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A host of other nights were lined up, but the whole project has been binned.

Pulling the plug, the promoters cited concerns over localised lockdowns. I’m not entirely sure I buy that.

The data from Scotland suggest the very opposite – our more cautious emergence from lockdown IS working. Slowly, steadily, the numbers are diminshing.

My guess is sluggish ticket sales gave them the jitters, and they opted out. Ach …

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It’s frustrating for music fans and for performers who all need to see the lights dim and hear the crowd roar once more.

And, here’s the thing, someone has to go first.

Of course, public health comes first, but if no-one is prepared to put their neck on the block and stage an event then we face the bleakest and most barren of futures; one devoid of live entertainment or sport, and gatherings and experiences which provide lifelong memories. A life in limbo is no life at all.

Jobs, tens of thousands of them, will be lost, towns will see cherished venues close, and a generation of talent will simply wither.

So, I’m kinda narked at Live Nation playing the lockdown fear card.

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Cancelling their own event is one thing, but making the rest of the industry shiver and possible take fright isn’t helpful. Not at all.

Maybe – just maybe –the event didn’t chime with folk.

Drive-ins are an American institution, and the images they evoke are far removed from a bit of wasteland next to the runway at Edinburgh Airport.Ingliston could be the large scale concert venue Edinburgh has failed for years to deliver – but it isn’t.

I saw Queen take the roof off the main hall back in the 1980s, and have great memories of Rainbow on stage too, but it’s a woefully underused asset for the city and country.

Maybe the first steps after lockdown need to be small, bespoke/boutique events; nights which create an atmosphere which then give people the confidence to go back into the crowd.

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Without that sense of reassurance, nothing can proceed, and that’s a future too bleak to consider right now.

Perhaps it’ll be our smaller venues, and the more imaginative promoters and curators who will lead the way.

We can stay safe and still be bold ...