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‘Our whole industry has been postponed’ - tour manager says regular gigs will take time to return

PUBLISHED: 05:30 28 August 2020 | UPDATED: 06:23 28 August 2020

Jon Luton on stage in Satiago, Chile. He has worked as a tour manager and a backline tech for bands at shows in over 40 countries. Picture: Jon Luton

Jon Luton on stage in Satiago, Chile. He has worked as a tour manager and a backline tech for bands at shows in over 40 countries. Picture: Jon Luton

Jon Luton

A Norwich-based tour manager has said it will be a while until fans can expect to return to the mosh pit.

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: StaffJohnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Staff

Jon Luton, who has worked in live music for over 20 years, spending the last seven as a tour manager, working for the likes of Steve Mason, Roisin Murphy and Palma Violets, described the pandemic as “very weird” for someone who is used to being on tour.

Mr Luton said social distancing had limited the chances of gigs going ahead.

He said: “Our whole industry has been postponed or cancelled essentially for the foreseeable future, because even at the moment, although they say you can do gigs inside with social distancing, unless you’re up to over 80% full they’re not financially viable to run.

“Literally a week before lockdown, when everyone knew it was going to happen but it hadn’t happened yet, my whole year’s worth of work got cancelled or rescheduled.

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“Even then you had things that were meant to happen in March or April which all got moved to October or November, but now in the last few weeks because of how things are progressing all of that stuff has now been rescheduled again for next year.

“There’s a lot more to it than people realise, because there is such a long lead time for shows.

“Even if they suddenly said tomorrow you can have gigs with no social distancing at all, with 100% capacity, it would still take three months to get moving.”

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: StaffJohnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Staff

He added: “You can’t just suddenly go, ‘well on Saturday we’re going to host a gig in Cambridge’, put it on sale and sell it out, because bands haven’t been rehearsing due to lockdowns and the fact people live in different locations”

Local lockdowns will also pose a major issue for tours, with the potential for bands and their crews being stuck in one town unable to travel to the next.

Mr Luton added that even when gigs are able to go ahead with lower capacities, most of those that have been rescheduled and sold out would not be able to, as there would be no fair way of deciding who went and who missed out.

Mr Luton says socially distanced shows only represent a miniscule amount of people working in the industry, with an average of between 3,000 and 4,000 gigs per day in the UK before the pandemic hit reduced to around 15.


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