Kaiser Chiefs' Simon Rix calls for caution and extra support for Leeds music venues as crowds return
Smaller venues which are an "essential part" of the Leeds music scene need vital support ahead of 'Freedom Day' reopenings, Kaiser Chiefs' Simon Rix has warned.
As music venues prepare to relaunch full-capacity events for the first time since the pandemic hit, Simon said smaller venues will be faced with new challenges to ensure gigs can run safely.
Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Evening Post as the final lockdown restrictions are eased, Simon urged people to respect staff at venues as crowds head back to live music.
He said: "Rates are going up again so it’s vital that people are careful. But on the flip side, after an 18 months enforced hiatus, everyone in the live music industry is struggling.
"I know first hand that experienced and highly skilled members of our crew are now working in Tesco or driving for Amazon.
"While many people in other industries have been able to return to their normal working lives, albeit many working from home, most musicians and their surrounding networks have been left without work or essential support.
"These people need to be allowed to make a livelihood."
As venues begin a long road to recovery, Simon called for extra support from the Government to help venues to reopen - and stay open.
Introducing ventilation technology and extra Covid measures will be more of a challenge for smaller businesses, Simon said, which are an "essential" part of the music industry.
"18 months of no income is pretty damaging for any business," he added.
"The other challenge is how to help people feel safe inside venues again. Open air festivals with reduced numbers and Covid checks seem like a relatively safe step into live events.
"However smaller venues, particularly those in basements with no windows or ventilation, will perhaps have more problems coaxing people back in.
"The smaller venues are often an essential part of an overarching scene and I think they need to be supported."
Simon said there is a big demand to get back to live music, with people left disappointed by the cancellation of many festivals and gigs this summer.
But he warned the 'Freedom Day' tag could be dangerous, pointing to the actions of some football fans during the Euros.
As venues open up and the Kaiser Chiefs prepare to perform again, Simon said he will be spending more time indoors to ensure he doesn't get Covid.
He added: "It's also vital that those who feel okay to take the risks go out and support the live music scene as much as they can.
"Get out and see gigs. Be careful and respect the safety of staff in venues, buy merchandise and be respectful of other peoples views.
"If you can, get vaccinated, take lateral flow tests before and after gigs and please wear a mask if you are able to. Respect personal space - and be kind, be kind, be kind."
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