In case you hadn’t noticed, sometime in the second or third week of March, all the live shows in the UK stopped. Of course, all of us in the music industry knew it was coming. In late February Italy was cancelling shows. SXSW cancelled on the 6th March, just a few days before excited folk were about to get their flights. Scotland was all but quiet by the 14th – Though England soldiered bravely on.
The national news was awash with stories of the ever-encroaching viral horde. In the music press, a shadow of show cancellations moved ever westward from Asia. As has been well reported, the instruction from our government was indecisive, our prime minister dithered and delayed. Whilst we, in a bid to finish tours before Easter, continued. Artists, agents, promoters and venues held our collective breaths and pushed on.
I was in Bristol on the 14th March when one of my touring artists called in. I had seen them perform in the previous week and they had advised that as long as the venues were opening their doors, they would continue to perform. However, at some time in those few days between seeing their show and the 14th, the mood had changed. They had been in touch with a medical professional friend of theirs in the States – his advice – get off the road now.
I had a big show in Plymouth Pavilion on Paddy’s day – Tuesday the 17th March – it wasn’t to be. Finally, the country shut down on March 23rd – For the foreseeable future, across the UK, live music had died.
In a matter of days, we foresaw our business income begin to evaporate. The implication stark for future salaries and employment. And in the office we began the daunting task of rescheduling all the shows from before Easter, pushing them into the autumn, then a little later it was the turn of the post-Easter and May shows into the future as well – as has become all too apparent, it was only the beginning…