So it’s late October, 2022. The UK Government, in 30 plus days, has caused a currency run, pushed up mortgage rates, created a pensions crisis, lost two major Ministers, and that’s just the easy bit to explain. We’re worked through four chancellors (Finance Ministers) in four months, three Prime Ministers in three years. As an Immediate reaction, there’s a certain schadenfreude, in what were Liz Truss’ problems, now Richi’s, and Governments woes.
Unfortunately, it’s really more of a disaster for us all than it will ever be for the Tories. Sad to say, there’s only more misery coming our way, with increased taxes, interest rates up, and business costs rising further, and for most of us consumers, a slap of more pain. It will sting as incomes are squeezed, homes are at risk, and life’s delights slowly die. Pubs closing, and many are already evenings only, weekend opening clubs, all chasing a few spare pounds.
For live events, it looks more precarious, more calamitous, more terminal for this sector than even COVID was.
One bitter irony for me, and reflecting on the potential changes, I see one big set of ‘winners’ - long established bands. People, and I’d say me included, will want to get the most fun from our, restricted ‘play time pennies’. I can see ‘big bands’ being more in demand, people know what they’re getting, a spectacle, lights, lasers, screens, action. People will sit the new bands out, sit and wait for Coldplay, the Pixies, or Springsteen.
One ‘out of the box thought’, perhaps with the accelerating energy crisis, small venues could reinvent themselves as ‘warm hubs’ featuring local bands, in for a live audience, (mind you free-form jazz, and thrash / death metal not the best ideas to keep people warm), I’m sure unplugged sets work for some. BUT let’s face it, us oldsters, close to, or passing pension age, grew up with punk and new wave, so post punk may not be THAT outlandish, as an accompaniment, to coffee, tea cakes, and digestive biscuits. I like the idea of afternoon sessions keeping me warm.
But this sliver of light could be transitory, or at worst illusory. The fundamental problem remains, money, money, money, and the lack of it in millions of pockets. Some things have got to go. Already in my hometown, with three or four universities within 10 miles, and thousands of young people with dreams to get out and play, are now sadly without the money to live those dreams and the nightlife they used to support is ebbing away.
City pubs and restaurants, sad, deserted and empty on weekdays, are now sad, deserted and empty on weekends too. Pubs struggle to keep themselves warm, occupied and relevant. For pubs, the damage is all too easy to see, for clubs, and music, it’s hidden, out of sight, and soon sadly out of mind.
Catching up with the latest UK Government policy initiatives, it’s looking bad, especially in the New Year, when the energy support grant goes and the middle squeezed gigsters’ cuts start to bite. Playtime restricted and then some for a huge slice of us.
As the cold bites, can I see pogoing in Parkas (Oasis apart), surfing in Schott puffas? No, no, I just can’t see it. Live rock and roll, crowd surfing and pure passion seems close to extinction. Overly dramatic? Perhaps. So if we are at the end, how do we respond? What to do? I’m focusing on my own survival this winter. I’ll be ok. I can heat my home, I can eat, I can be selective, very, selective in the films, gigs and so on I choose.
It’s just I need to be more careful, and not follow a crowd, be myself.
But as for pop, soul, rock, these are communal experiences, mosh pits for some, communal, songs and chats for others, these will be missed sadly, deeply. If this sounds despondent, it is. It’s me on a rain-lashed staying in Sunday. I’m merely sad at what we are losing. Not depressed.
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