How Norfolk band Mister-Pink are rock 'n' rolling out of lockdown
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They went from performing at packed festivals to an audience of 12. Now, the trio of Mister-Pink are tuning their guitars for summer gigs, but will the music industry be able to recover in time to keep them playing? UEA journalism student Danielle Champ finds out
My dad used to take me to this pretty dingy outdoor bar, when I was old enough obviously, although it didn’t seem like the sort of place to check for IDs.
There were animal skulls that hung from the ceiling like voodoo charms, and hard-tac liquor bottles that were stacked in the cabinet behind the bar.
But, despite its unsavoury aesthetic, it always hosted great bands; bands that knew their way around every guitar and could strum together an atmosphere primed for shoulder dancing and rowdy behaviour – the kind of place I would expect to see bands like Mister-Pink.
Revving electric riffs and gritty rock vocals are two staple sounds of this Norfolk-based rock band.
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Simon Pink, lead vocals and front man, envisioned a group that made the audience an integral part of their shows.
"We like to get people from the audience on stage and have them do crazy stuff with us and make them feel great about it so that they have a good time,” Simon told me over a Zoom interview.
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The 16-year-old band has travelled both nationally and internationally, performed at festivals with over 40,000 people, and with some of the biggest names in the music industry.
And although the pandemic has not been the sort of rock ‘n roll ride that Mister-Pink is used to, their outrageous energy has not been afraid to adapt with the times.
In May 2020, the trio released the music video to one of their originals, Pageant Queen.
The video begins with Daniel Pink, guitarist, hosting a Zoom business meeting. He is joined by drummer Reuben Pink, wearing a business suit, followed by Simon who, with guitar in hand and sunglasses on, has no intention of participating in the meeting’s agenda. And so the shenanigans begin.
Despite the band’s tongue-in-cheek humour and creative approach to embracing the waves of national lockdowns, the fundamentals of performing to a live audience is an experience that cannot be replaced.
In September, Simon and Daniel performed at a local Norwich pub to an unnervingly smaller audience.
Simon said: “We had to strip down to acoustic guitars… which is basically like a formula one racer driving a tractor.
“We’re so used to bigger stages and bigger gigs where we can be really entertaining and do the crazy things that the band loves doing so I felt it was more difficult playing in front of those 12 people because I felt so naked.”
Not only have musicians had to adapt to radical changes in their working environment, but these changes have had an adverse effect on their finances.
Simon highlighted that the abrupt end to performing two or three times a week has meant having to tap into government grants offered to those in the music sector.
Although these grants have been a vital safety net, there are other ways to support our local music ecosystem that extends beyond September when financial support is expected to end.
He said: “If the government could help small venues with entertainment grants and subsidise the red-tape expenses for our Europe tours that would be fantastic because then we can actually bring home some money without spending profit on trying to get to gigs.”
Another pragmatic approach is going out to support the live shows of our local artists.
The ease of livestreams and virtual concerts have made experiencing your favourite band without the fuss of crowded venues and questionable hygiene of the human two metres away from you.
In December 2020, MIDiA, one of the top music industry analysts, released the first comprehensive report that tracked live streaming data from June to December 2020.
Simon Mulligan, who led the report, said: “The total ticketed revenue in December was up 292% from June, while Bandsintown, a US-based music services platform, revealed that the share of live-streamed concert listings grew from 1.9% to 40.7%.”
Although these stats show an eagerness to support our favourite bands, it also raises concern that the online experience will keep the crowds away from the live one.
Summer is on its way and many musicians are gearing up to welcome back their audiences.
However, fewer venues will be able to afford to pay musicians owing to the financial consequences that affected the hospitality industry. According to Simon Pink’s estimations, it will take at least four year before events platforms will be able to pay the same pre-Covid rates.
Live music will not be the same for a while, but that should not discourage us from supporting our musicians, especially as they navigate working with venues to get back on stage safely.
As novel as it has been to watch bands perform internationally from my Norfolk-lounge, live gigs are still one of my favourite human experiences – and I cannot wait to add one of Mister-Pink’s ticket stubs to my collection.
If you want to purchase tickets to Mister-Pink, visit their website at mister-pink.co.uk