Organisers of socially distanced Frank Turner gig in London say it “did not succeed” in creating live music blueprint

"It can't be the future for live music, it can't be the future for venues"

The organisers of the socially distanced trial gig that took place in London last night (July 28) have acknowledged that the event “did not succeed” in creating a viable blueprint for the return of live music.

The show took place yesterday evening at the 1250-capacity Clapham Grand, with Frank Turner performing to just 200 socially distanced attendees — less than 20% of their normal capacity.

The pilot event was supported by the UK government as a trial run for enforcing safety measures at gigs during the coronavirus pandemic.

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However, Clapham Grand venue manager Ally Wolf told BBC News that the style of show that was trialled last night was not a financially viable model for other venues to follow going forward.

Noting that the show didn’t make enough money to cover the venue’s operating costs let alone Turner’s performance fee, Wolf said: “It can’t be the future for live music, it can’t be the future for venues.”

Adding that Turner’s performance was “great” and that he was encouraged to see the return of an audience back in the venue, Wolf said he was not getting “caught up in the jubilation of finally being able to put on a show”.

Wolf added that the pilot was “not a financial model that the industry can remotely rely upon to get to be sustainable”, saying that such a model would be particularly damaging financially to small venues.

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Writing about the gig on Twitter this morning (July 29), Turner reflected on his “first proper gig in over four months”.

“It was a strange, emotional evening, and I’m planning a proper write up, but damn it feels good to post a real show picture again,” he said.

The gig was organised after Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently signalled that some socially distanced indoor live music events can take place next month.

Under the proposed plans, from August 1 socially distanced audiences will be able to return for select indoor performances in theatres, music halls and other venues.

Johnson added that from October “audiences in stadia”, as well as conferences and other events, would also be able to restart, subject to successful pilots around the UK.

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