Column:  Yes sir, why can we boogie at football – but not music festivals?

Right now, I should be checking into a hotel ahead of a weekend of live music.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 4:00 pm

Sadly, Doonhame found itself taking the heartbreaking decision to cancel barely 17 days before the first bands were due to hit the stage in Dumfries.

I cannot begin to imagine how frustrated they must have felt watching the ITV news which showed crowds enjoying the spectacle of Latitude Festival in full flow.

It was perfectly okay for the Kaiser Chiefs to top the bill in Suffolk, but a complete no-go for them to do the same 360 miles north in Dumfries.

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The Kaiser Chiefs could play at Latitude Festival in Suffolk - but their festival appearance in Scotland ended when the event was scrapped (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Scotland’s live music scene was crippled by the pandemic. It remains hopelessly shackled by conflicting, often illogical interpretation of the guidelines, and no evidence of much sympathy from those in power.

It is perfectly okay for several thousand people to gather in a fans’ zone for the Euro2020 championships, and go nuts when Scotland score - but it isn’t okay for a music festival which adheres to every single protocol to take place?

While our live venues remain closed, Scottish bands, comedians and singers are going south to perform. Illogical.

So far this summer, Party At The Palace has been scrapped, quickly followed by Doonhame and now Doune The Rabbit Hole has gone, well, down the rabbit hole.

Several music festivals across Scotland have been cancelled at the eleventh hour

These cancellations can be directly traced to a moment of hesitation with huge consequences.

The Scottish Government's provisional calendar suggested July 19 for ending distancing measures outdoors.

When that decision was shoved back to August 9, it had a direct impact on the organisers of each event, and the councils which have to licence them.

The guidance won’t be made any clearer until next week, and that was simply too close to the wire for anyone to press on in hope rather than expectation.

And if the decision is to wait again, then the ripples will spread far beyond music festivals scheduled this autumn.

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The anger and despair which poured out of each cancellation announcement was raw, and entirely understandable.

Festivals are huge events to pull together, much of it done by freelancers. They also provide great spin-offs for the local area - from jobs to spend in hotels and bars.

Having had countless gigs rescheduled more than once, I fear we are not much further forward than we were at the start of 2021.

Maybe the music festival organisers ought to have urged everyone attending to simply wear Scotland strips and sing Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, and the restrictions would have magically disappeared.

I have no problem with football fans getting in to see games in the flesh or on the big screen, but it is simply wrong not to apply the same can-do approach to music festivals and other events which have moved mountains to create gatherings which can be held safely.

The inconsistency is utterly infuriating - and ruinous.

We’ve just booked another batch of tickets to concerts - our fingers are crossed they actually go ahead.

If we can’t operate live venues safely then we will lose them.

And, once gone, tens of thousands of jobs will be lost, businesses will be decimated and a generation of creative talent could wither.

It is a wasteland that cannot be contemplated - but one we are in danger of sleepwalking into.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Fife Free Press.