Monday 30 August 2010

Axl Rose and Eleven O'Clock Curfews

I don't very often talk about music on this blog, but every now and again an issue comes up which crosses rock music (my 2nd passion) and politics, this is one of them.

Axl Rose is the lead singer of Guns n Roses, a once great rock band whose reputation has nose-dived since the departure of Slash and a few others.  Everyone in rock music circles knows of Axl Rose's reputation as a self-important rock star who is losing his talent.  And also that Slash featuring Myles Kennedy on vocals was a far better watch on the festival circuit this year (including their covers of GnR songs).  A Guns n Roses let down at Reading and Leeds was easily predicted.  In fact the band went on stage an hour and a half late at Reading and half hour late at Leeds resulting in short sets and Axl having a moan at everyone except himself about the curfew being imposed

There are two issues here.  The first is Guns n Roses behaviour - which shows a real disrespect for their fans who spend good money seeing the band and paying the always over-inflated prices that are charged for merchandise etc.  I say this because there does not seem to be any explanation for the problems and these were certainly not unusual occurrences.

The second issue is a real bugbear of mine and that is the stupid way that eleven o'clock curfews have become the norm at British rock venues and festivals, especially the way they are enforced without an ounce of flexibility.  I hate it.   I thoroughly enjoy going to European festivals for a few reasons; they are less of a rip off than their UK counterparts; they often have a great international feel to them; and they have live music until 2 to 3 o'clock in the morning.

This universal idea that music has to finish at 11 o'clock is just daft and causes real problems.   I went to see Ace Frehley earlier this year in London and he has some real technical problems before the gig which meant the band went on stage late, the ludicrous curfew meant that he played a 40 minute set, the result - lots of angry and upset fans.

At festivals the result of the curfew is that everyone heads to the bars or back to their tents and drink.   Is that what we are supposed to be encouraging?

I am not saying that all venues and all gigs should have later curfews.    But clearly some common sense is needed - if a band is unavoidably delayed on stage, let's be flexible.  Where a venue is not surrounded by housing and especially when it is surrounded by night club venues that are open all hours, let's allow later curfews.  And especially, where people are paying a couple of hundred quid to go to a festival, let's have a curfew at a sensible hour so they can spend as much time as possible doing what they paid to do - watch bands playing music.

The current licencing laws were brought in by the control freakery that was New Labour.  I hope the Conservatives have the sense to revisit this piece of legislation and inject a bit of localism and common sense.

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