I’ve been a music journalist, photographer, magazine contributor, video host, professional musician and press agent for longer than I can remember. I’ve written hundreds of articles, but I must say, half way through this, brought it all home. How bizarre the whole aspect of ‘getting back to normal’ really is. It’s also brought home how it seems to be in our nature, to moan about the most trivial things, apparently ‘being too cold’ ‘sitting in traffic’ and ‘a poor mobile phone signal’ are top the list.
It doesn’t need me to tell you how Covid 19 has had a serious effect throughout the world. Whilst it plays a major role in our lives, there have been many arguments as to where the entertainment industry sits within the road map to lifting lockdown restrictions.
I’m proud to say how much I enjoyed strapping on a guitar, wheeling a very loud Marshall stack into the garden and rocking out on the celebratory Thursday evenings for the NHS last summer.
A personal role to rock
The word ‘entertainment’ translates to…’the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment’. It’s hard to comprehend how many roles in the music industry the pandemic has affected, not just actors, solo artists and bands, but the colossal number of personnel required to organise and put on a major live show. Sound engineers, lighting technicians, haulage drivers, catering and wardrobe staff, it goes on and on.
I’m talking about touring bands who will have had their stage equipment stored in temperature controlled lockups during lockdown, but this still reflects on young musicians who want to play and perform together, whatever the size of the venue.
Back in the day, old school guitar players like myself, started out playing the tiny gigs, with the hope that one day there will be the need (and an excuse) to buy that huge amp to play the big venue. No matter what your personal view is of all the social media platforms, the internet itself has kept most of us entertained during these trying times. I’ve watched videos on how to bake giant cup cakes, learn magic tricks like how to produce fire from my fingertips and how to grow my hair like a 70’s rocker and, where would we be without the likes of live.
Our screens have been divided with multi talented musicians performing virtual concerts, check out the Fusion ‘Lovely Day’ collaboration for example. Guitar brands have enjoyed record sales of affordable guitars during lockdown, as people used the downtime to learn guitar or master that riff once and for all, whilst guitar luthiers with full order books, have continued to produce custom, hand-built guitars at an unusually fast pace to meet demand.
We’ve now past an unwanted anniversary of over a year without hardly any live music, on the upside, during lockdown, all of the artists I’ve interviewed have launched themselves into a frenzy of creativity, writing new songs and albums, I’ve yet to hear a song titled ‘Hand Gel Blues’ but I’m sure it’s been written.
Many previously postponed live shows around the world have been rescheduled for 2021, with artists and band members rehearsing separately, ready for the big meet, whilst actors and comedians sharpen up their act, after what I think is best described as a ‘seemingly endless theatrical drought’.
If all goes well, guitar players will enjoy the waft of hot valves as they crank their amps up past 14, for far too long they’ve ticked over at bedroom level. The atmosphere is sizzling ready for the glitz and glamour from the big stages to the hustle and bustle of the tiny pub performance, where the stage is hardly big enough for the drum kit.
That first full-throated, belly roar as the festival crowd celebrate the return of live music, will not just be a fuel laden yell in support of the band, it’ll also be a mix of adrenaline and camaraderie, hailing ‘we are back’.
But let’s just bring it down a decibel or two, and not forget arguably the most idyllic sounds of summer, no, not lawnmowers or the cuckoo, but the addictive bee-like hum and thrum of the ukulele played in large numbers, (does anyone know the collective noun for such?), sat around the barbecue or, from literally thousands of ukulele clubs who will soon open their doors this spring allowing ‘ukes at close quarters’.
Sprint from Darkness
There are still a lot of ‘ifs, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’ and no doubt, there will be challenges as we come out of the darkness. With several UK festivals looking positive this summer, it would seem that open-air shows will be allowed before in-house closed-door events, with new rules for social distancing. Many events are still only pencilled in and with a limited number of fans to attend if indeed, they go ahead.
Let’s hope when we once again see a blue sky full of aeroplane trails, they contain the big named acts for our much-loved, well-missed live events. You can be sure that the first gigs we go to this year, are going to be some of the best we’ve ever experienced.
I’ve quoted ‘it’s the power of music’, in many of my written articles and online videos, how true is that right now?
About Lars Mullen
With over 30 years in the music business, Lars Mullen does indeed wear many hats, as a writer, journalist, photographer, press person for his own company Music Media Announcements. As an extensive traveller, he's a familiar figure reporting from music trade shows around the world. Spending many years touring as a professional guitarist, Lars has also interviewed a host of top bands and artists, continues to write articles for magazines globally and still finds time to track down Fusion artists for our Artist Spotlight column and Fusion Virtual World Tour Interview Series.