Another reflection on the live music scene.

The contrary nature of the gig-going public constantly bemuses me.

Having stood on doors, promoting around Leeds for over 23 years ( in particular the Duchess for the last 12 years ), I've received all types of comments from the incoming customers.
The most common exclamations are,
"How much!!!?", "Four quid!?", "It's a rip-off!", "I've only come to see my mate."
The same people will pay 10 for a disco, 17 for a show at T & C level, 22 for a football match, 25 for an arena show and up to 100 for a festival.
It seems the further away from the action they are and the more milling, queuing and turmoil there is...the more money people are willing to part with.

At the Duchess, music fans could have seen Oasis, Radiohead, Blur, Nirvana, Pulp, Offspring, Green Day, Catatonia, Supergrass, Travis, The Verve, Bush (etc.,etc.) for under 5. All of these groups have headlined major festivals, but a few years ago fans could have seen the whites of budding superstar eyes, seen sweat dripping off precious brows, shared a glass with raw musicians eager to answer probing questions.
When stardom beckons all that is lost and maybe that's why I like the burgeoning level the best.

This year, in the last few months of the Duchess, I put on Muse, Coldplay, Doves and JJ72, only the Muse gig was a sell out ( their first time wasn't ). These bands are now well on their way to pop sainthood, eventually thousands of people will pay an arm and a leg to see them from a distance, in the middle of a field, surrounded by a security team and a 12 foot barrier. Odd isn't it?

The folk who have to familiarise themselves with a bands' music before visiting a show are the same ones you see in an exotic restaurant ordering omelette and chips, or whispering to a friend,
"I'll have what you're having."

If you don't have that taste for adventure you miss out on one major feeling...the joy of discovery!
And that's a giant loss.

Can it be that these persons don't know what they really like? Do they only go to see acts that have had hits? Do they only go where peer pressure and press power dictates?
It seems to be so, for when those groups cease to reach the charts and journalists stop writing about them, those artists come back to Duchess level...and it's still bloody difficult to find a crowd!

Support is always most needed at grass roots level, new acts and intrepid customers should be valued assets, only these can nourish the green shoots, recently, it seems, you're thin on the ground.

Next time you are stood in a queue, in a muddy meadow, under a drizzle waiting to pay 3 for warm lager, 5 for a pack of cigs, 2 for a small bag of soggy chips, or waiting to use a toilet swimming over with vile smelling waste ( in the meantime missing the band you really wanted to see ) remember...there was a place where you could have seen it all in comfort, close up, fresh and in your face, but only a select few were interested ( maybe you were one )...and it disappeared.

Some day it will be missed.

"How much!!!?"

John Keenan.






Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?