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Gigs might not resume until at least April, top UK live promoter warns

(Image credit: Getty)

The UK's live music scene has been in a state of paralysis since the pandemic-enforced shutdown in late March. And with escalating fears of a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus-related deaths causing Boris Johnson’s government to implement tighter restrictions, one of the country’s most-successful promoters, Kilimanjaro Live boss (and former Sonisphere festival promoter) Stuart Galbraith, cautions that a return to any sort of normality may still be at least six months away.

Quoted in an interview with trade bible Music Week, the Concert Promoters Association vice-chair revealed that he has earmarked April 8 as a target date for full-capacity live gigs returning.

“We've got some big asks still of government and we really need to focus upon those,” said Galbraith. “Number one is a date, when can we get going? And I think that we should be pushing for a date that is April 8. The reason I say that is a) it’s immediately after Easter and b) I think government will be able to find that acceptable - I think it will fit in with political and society agendas. It’s midweek, so it's not going to be a date you're going to see people go crazy on, like a Saturday, and we could ease into it.”

“The [government] announcements were really just playing out what we have been anticipating for the last two or three months,” he added. “It’s not realistic to expect we can open without social distancing, at full capacity, until the virus is perceived across society to be contained. And that full capacity gigs and mass gatherings are not only scientifically estimated to be safe, but are also accepted by the customer as having the confidence to come to those shows. So there’s a fine line to tread.”

“I don't see that our opening will be until spring next year. These measures may be in place for up to six months and that takes us through to the end of March - and then you've got family-to-family contact across the biggest public holiday of the year, which is four days of Easter. So, I genuinely don't think we're going to be seeing ourselves opening until at least the first week of April.”

Galbraith’s stark warning has been echoed elsewhere in the UK’s live music industry.

“The challenge the industry is facing now is essentially survival,” Ian Huffam, a director of X-Ray Touring, whose clients include Queens Of The Stone Age, Alice In Chains, Enter Shikari, Machine Head and more, told The Telegraph recently. “It’s not just the survival of artists, venues and promoters, it’s the whole live ecosystem. The prospects for next year are grim. Live music is entering a deeply concerning phase. It’s a rocky road, and there will be casualties.”