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Listen up, dickheads: it’s time to stop bringing flares to gigs

As flares at a Liam Gallagher gig leave one fan with life-changing injuries, Nick Reilly argues it's time to ban them for good

It’s the smell of a flare that hits you first. The thick and unmistakable stench of sulphur is quickly followed by an overwhelming cloud of coloured smoke which threatens to envelope your entire line of sight and induce a coughing fit. It’s disorientating, entirely unenjoyable and yet, an inescapable part of the UK’s live music scene in 2019.

Over the last few years, stadium gigs have been populated by morons who seem to take “No Pyro No Party” as their modus operandi.  You can spot them from a mile off – they’ll be the ones lapping up every bit of undeserved attention as smoke emanates from their general direction, like a shit Thomas The Tank Engine.

At best, they can be extremely irritating. When the Stone Roses played the Etihad Stadium in 2016, Ian Brown told the crowd that the smoky irritants were stopping them from breathing – and yet they still persisted. So not only does it piss off the band you’ve forked out to see, but you’re potentially ruining the experience of others too – spare a thought for the asthmatics among us.

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But at their worst, they can be unbelievably dangerous too. Earlier this week, 27-year-old Stacey Andrew was one of thousands of fans who headed to Sheffield’s FlyDSA Arena to see Liam Gallagher on triumphant form. Stacey never got to see Liam that night. Her first ever gig faced a premature end when she was hit by a flare during a support slot by DMAs.

“I didn’t realise what had happened then people started patting me. My shirt was in flames and a man ripped it off,” she told The BBC of the incident. “I’m scared I’m going to be scarred for life.”

Here lies the reality of the situation. Stacey’s life changing injuries show that flares are incredibly dangerous – and  more needs to be done to clamp down on them. For instance, a quick Google search reveals that they’re purchasable within three clicks, and further questions remain about how effective security checks at the UK’s venues really are.

As someone with a passionate disdain for paying over the odds for a pint, I speak from experience when I say it’s no challenge at all to sneak several cans of lager down your trousers. Tough call though it might be, I’d be all for losing my beloved tinnies if it meant that we’d be creating a safer and more inclusive gig experience.

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Oh, and for all the naysayers who pointlessly argue that it adds to the atmosphere, perhaps it’s time to let LG have the final say. “It’s not cool people, chill the fuck out with the flares,” he said of Stacey’s incident. You heard the man.

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