Coronavirus has completely changed the music landscape almost overnight.
The rapid spread of the virus has sent tours tumbling, with even major festivals – months, sometimes years in planning – stepping to one side in the name of public safety.
The past seven days have utterly changed the outlook for live music in 2020. SXSW has been cancelled. Double weekend desert behemoth Coachella has been postponed to October.
In Europe, Tallinn Music Week has been moved back several months, while serious doubts have been raised over the viability of The Great Escape and Glastonbury.
Yet some major tours are still continuing. In Cardiff, Stereophonics perhaps left homeland pride get ahead of common sense, bringing their tour to Cardiff International Arena.
Sold out long in advance, the smaller-than-usual crowd was testament to the genuine fear many people have over the spread of the virus – and a sure sign that the show should have been pulled.
With the absence of clear leadership from the UK government music and sports have been forced to lead the way themselves. In England, all football and rugby matches have been called off until early April. In Scotland, the football season has been postponed indefinitely, while a motion advising against all public gatherings with a capacity of more than 500 people has been put in place.
It seems remarkable, then, that while Welsh international rugby has been paused, Stereophonics feel able to perform to a capacity crowd. They haven’t broken any rules, but it’s morally questionable, particularly at a time of such unknown.
The Welsh group aren’t the only ones allowed their live commitments to continue. Scottish troubadour Lewis Capaldi has enjoyed a remarkable year, including a Buckfast-clad victory at the BRIT Awards only weeks ago. Deciding to continue with his arena tour, the songwriter played two nights in London, before returning to Scotland.
Hitting Aberdeen to play the Press & Journal Live Arena, the show came only hours before Nicola Sturgeon’s advice came into place, urging artists and "to act responsibly".
Curiously, Lewis Capaldi is already aware of the European-wise lock-down, having responded to a video.
Amazing stuff! Stay safe https://t.co/uiirSl2LoX— Lewis Capaldi (@LewisCapaldi) March 14, 2020
Although neither Stereophonics nor Lewis Capaldi have broken any laws, the decision to continue their tours in the face of medical advice is remarkable. Equally, the timing – coming as many new artists face devastating loss of income – is in remarkably poor taste, and has deservedly been taken to task on social media.
There’s no one way to fight coronavirus, with each nation, each government seeming to take distinctly different steps. That said, music needs to unite around a handful of central issues: solidarity, and respect for the public.
- - -
Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.