Last week, I played the first three full capacity indoor shows since March 2020. I’m still getting my head around the experience, but I wanted to do some of that here, and to talk about shows coming up through the rest of the summer.
The build-up for the first show, which was of course at The Clapham Grand, was surreal and quite stressful. There is of course a lot of tension and uncertainty out there right now about shows, about restrictions and regulations, government action and personal responsibility – no doubt you’ve all read and thought about all that enough recently. The UK government has helpfully (sic) decided to duck hard decisions and left restrictions in the hands of individual venues. That’s difficult in many ways, but does also leave open the possibility of doing shows again, something that is incredibly important to me and (I like to think) the audience, something we’ve missed more than words can say. Through a combination of hard work by venues and promoters, and a voluntary ask for people to test or be vaccinated, we managed to get to a place where we all felt the shows could go ahead safely for all concerned.
The crucial thing, the thing I want to talk about here, was the magic. Playing again was completely, indescribably pure. I wept openly twice before I even went onstage, and it got worse from there. The audiences were a delight, the atmosphere was tangibly electric. Everyone in the industry wants to help, wants to be responsible, but in the midst of that we’ve sometimes lost sight of the need to stress the importance of what we contribute, to us and to those who come. This is our culture, our therapy, our life. Thank you so much to everyone who came to the shows.
Looking forward, of course things aren’t simple. The tensions and uncertainty remain. There has been huge damage wreaked across the industry, in particular the supply chains behind the scenes, which is still reverberating. Many people are not yet comfortable with indoor shows, and I completely understand that. Collectively, we’re doing our best to do our jobs and keep everyone happy. It’s not always easy.
All that said, I have some awesome shows coming up this summer. Margate on Friday is at Dreamland – full capacity but outdoors, with an amazing lineup. I can’t wait. We have more Gathering shows in Frome, and various festivals (Beautiful Days, Victorious and so on), even a free show in London for Love Music Hate Racism (August 14th). To have anything in the diary, after the last 18 months, is a singular pleasure, and I can’t wait to see you all.
A moment, now, to address the Manchester show next month. It was originally planned to be a full capacity outdoor show. Alas over the weekend the promoters contacted me to say that the infrastructure for an outdoor show just isn’t available to them right now, there’s been too much lost in the last year. The choice facing me was either cancelling, or moving it indoors. I chose the latter – the show will now be at the Apollo. All tickets remain valid, more are onsale. For those who, completely legitimately, don’t want to attend an indoor show, full refunds are available at point of purchase. This is not ideal, but it’s the best we can do right now.
I hope everyone can be understanding of the stresses and strains facing the live music industry right now. And I hope many people will join me in coming down to a show and remembering what we’ve been missing, losing themselves in the power of live music. I can’t wait. Peace.