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Neil Young: 'The big promoters are responsible for super spreaders'

Neil Young onstage at Farm Aid in 2019
(Image credit: Gary Miller/Getty Images)

Neil Young has asked live promotors to stop putting on live shows until fan safety can be guaranteed. Young made the remarks in a post on his website two weeks after pulling out of this year's Farm Aid concert in Connecticut next month, citing concerns over surges in the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Now Young has called on promotors to put fan safety ahead of profit, saying, "Garth Brooks and others like him have been responsible and pulled back from doing more shows. That’s a good example. But it will take the big promoters and managers/ agents to make the difference. If it’s all about money, I think they should protect the people who are their livelihood.

"These giants of entertainment just renovated a lot of old venues and spent a lot of cash to do that. Now they can’t stop selling tickets to pay for it. Money and business. That doesn’t make this OK. 

"It’s a bad example. Folks see concerts advertised and think it must be OK to go and mingle. It’s not. These are super-spreader events, irresponsible Freedom Fests. We need Freedom to be safe. Not a bad example. This could be just the beginning."

Young's post comes after almost 5000 cases of COVID-19 were connected to the Boardmasters Festival in Cornwall and more than 1000 attendees at Suffolk's Latitude Festival tested positive for the virus after the event. 

Earlier this month, organisers of the Bloodstock Festival in Derbyshire urged attendees to get tested after reports of cases associated with the event. And on Friday, county public health officials confirmed that about 500 people from across the UK had been at Bloodstock prior to testing positive.   

All the named festivals adhered to Government requirements regarding fan safety, which required festivalgoers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or double vaccination. 

"Whilst there is no guarantee that all these cases derived from attending our event, we did everything in our power to mitigate the risk of infection and went well above and beyond the expectation set out by government guidance," Bloodstock festival director Rachael Greenfield told the BBC.

She continued: "However, it is impossible to totally remove the risk of infection at any gathering, no matter whether 500 or 20,000. Although 500 cases is 500 more than we'd want, it's considerably lower than expected for an event of our size and we are satisfied we did everything in our power to reduce risk of infection."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 35 years in music industry, online for 22. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović. Likes cats.