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Your Face Ain't Right - You're Not Gettin In?

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Paul McClean | 11:08 UK time, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

OK, so you're a new promoter looking to set up a gig in London to showcase Northern Irish bands. You get your venue sorted, lights PA etc. plus you have your bands booked and ready to fly to the big smoke to show their chops to a few A+R men. Easy enough? Think again.

According to reports, every London live gig will now be required to provide police with the names, addresses and aliases of any performers plus list the likely audience.

Form 696 is a risk assessment, a usually innoucuous piece of bureaucracy that helps plan ahead to minimise risks. In most cases (ATL fills these in at every gig we record at for instance) this will be about loose cabling, noise levels, fire hazards and the like, but 696 seems to be going into areas about audience profiles that concern human rights groups and also the Musicians' Union. A petition to the government started by Rev and the Makers Jon McClure is gathering signatures presently.

It looks like this may be some attempt by the powers that be to keep a check on rogue elements in the music scene, but there is very little if any evidence of pervious wrongdoing or even potential harm offered as to why this information would be required. The UK's live music Czar (none other than Feargal Sharkey former Undertone) is apparently going to try to overturn this policy, which critics claim could be used to target black music.

Ironically, given the status of the Irish in London in the 1970's, had this type of clampdown on live music taken place back then the Undertones would never have been allowed to play the capital, along with Stiff Little Fingers and, for that matter, possibly even the Clash. Forget about the Sex Pistols altogether, but for different reasons.

The story hasn't yet caused great ripples outside London, but any continuation of such a policy outside London, especially to Northern Ireland would create a great deal of potential stress to a fledgling live music scene not to mention the potential political fallout.

Many are now asking what exactly this can possibly achieve? Will Taliban-inspired hip-hop Mullahs be put off denouncing the evil axis of Western decadance from their pulpits? Is this meant to slow down or stop protest gigs? Or is it a simple case of the police trying clumsily to be vigilant but failing to understand the primary essence of rock n roll?


  • Comment number 1.

    How on earth do people get away with things like this? Asking for the ethnic background of likely punters isn't just tantamount to racism, it *is* racism. And what exactly are they planning to do when they get a form back saying that the likely crowd will be composed of black and/or Asian kids? Just decide it's "unsafe" then, and on what basis? What will their logical excuse be? Will an artist playing a genre of music that they don't like be allowed to so long as the crowd are white?

    Some interesting comments at that Independent article linked.

  • Comment number 2.

    there are some interesting comments in the INdie piece, but the form itself doesnt actually specify race, this is being assumed. Obviously we can only infer that this may be something the police are interested in, but I think some of the reporting has gone a little too sensationalist.
    I would worry also that its another unnecessary layer of red tape an bureaucracy on promoters, especially those who dont make a huge amount of cash (ie the unsigned end of the spectrum) who may just give up, exasperated.

  • Comment number 3.

    The article quotes a question on the form as being "Is there a particular ethnic group attending?" unless I read it wrong (entirely likely, to be fair)?

    Totally agree with you as regards it being yet another addition to mounting paperwork that will only hinder, rather than help, industries that should be encouraged and recognised for their contributions to society.


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