Leeds music venues need our support, now more than ever - YEP opinion

It’s astonishing how you can become so shockingly disengaged from something that was once such a a vital component of your very being. My friend and I were travelling  into the city

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 4:45 am
Let the music play...we need to get back into our music venues. Picture: Getty Images.

My friend and I were travelling into the city centre on Thursday night when she said: “I couldn’t remember how I was supposed to dress for this. Will I be too hot or too cold? I honestly don’t know how any of this works anymore...”

We were on our way to a gig - our first live music event in Leeds since...we don’t know. It’s been too long.

Since I was a teenager, the music scene in Leeds has been a hugely important part of who I am, beginning when I made the discovery that spending my school nights in the Duchess of York was far more rewarding than being stuck in my bedroom studying for my A-levels.

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In fact my very first forays into “journalism” (and I do use that word loosely when describing what I was doing back then) came about by me cornering bands after their gigs and somehow persuading them to let me interview them for the very amateur fanzine I was putting together.

From the Duchess to the Cockpit to the university venues to, more recently, the arena, some of my most treasured memories and experiences have come from watching live music in the city, so to not have had that in my life for so long has been a real vacuum.

It’s all of it. Turning up in time to see the support band you’ve never heard of to find that, actually, they’re pretty good. The rapidly warming pint of nondescript lager in an untrustworthy plastic glass. Your feet sticking to the lager coated floor (see previous).

Being able to quite literally feel the music because you’re standing too close to the speakers and the noise is vibrating through your chest. The temporary touch of tinnitus that comes with it.

That moment when your favourite band comes on stage...the sense of sheer joy that fills me with hasn’t waned at all, in more years than I care to admit. And on Thursday night, as I stood stage front at the o2 Academy watching Manic Street Preachers, I felt it even more acutely. Because for such a long time I, just like many other people, really struggled to believe we would ever be able to experience live music in the same way again.

But now we can. And we need to support our music venues like never before because they have suffered desperately under lockdown. They’ve always been here for us - now we need to be there for them.

Not everyone feels ready to head out into a crowded atmosphere and if you’re not there yet, of course that’s fine. But when you are ready, check out what’s happening at the Brudenell, at the Belgrave, at the Wardrobe or Headrow House.

Go find those undiscovered new bands and your new favourite venue - and treat yourself to a cheeky pint of warm lager while you’re at it.

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