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Live Reviews

Frank Turner

Thursday 14th January 2021

Livestream

Frank Turner Independent Venue Love 15 poster
Independent Venue Love 15 event poster

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Frank Turner – Live Review

Throughout the first national lockdown musicians were forced to find creative and innovative new ways to connect with their fans. This unique time saw the popularity of the music livestream rise as exponentially as the cases of the horrible virus that created the situation.

read our blog on the impact of livestreams on the music industry

The pandemic has caused us all to feel many negative emotions such as fear, worry, grief and sadness. For music fans, it has robbed us of a vital outlet which impacts greatly on our mental health. I recently discussed the immense impact of music on my mental health in my blog post ‘Mental Health, Music and Me’.

For musicians and everybody that works within the music industry it has caused significant crisis. Our beloved grassroots music venues are at risk. Musicians and live events workers employment has vanished overnight. Plus a light has been shone on the unfair recompense for artists from streaming.

read our blog on the #BrokenRecord Campaign

In amongst the darkness however there has been the odd glimmer of light. One man that has taken the power of livestreaming to heart is Frank Turner. Not only that but he has used this platform to raise awareness and valuable funding for those struggling venues, becoming a champion of the #SaveOurVenues campaign.

read our blog on the #SaveOurVenues Campaign

Turner’s Thursday night livestreams dubbed ‘Independent Venue Love’ have been a huge success. They have provided Turner with a connection to his fans. They have provided those fans with a vital distraction to raise their spirits. Whilst importantly they have raised the aforementioned funds. The success of these livestreams was one of the reasons we gave Turner the ‘Artist of the Year’ award in our review of 2020.

Now as we enter what has been dubbed Lockdown 3, Frank Turner has picked up his guitar once more ready to serenade his adoring fans. Turner will also again raise some much needed money and awareness for struggling venues. Tonight that venue is The Lantern in Halifax and the crowdfunder is here.

During his initial wave of livestreams, Turner focused on albums, or periods of his career to structure the events. This time around however, having exhausted his back catalogue, in order, last time around, Turner is handing the setlist over to his fans.

This ‘All Request’ format works extremely well with Turner’s wife Jess Guise behind the keyboard, monitoring requests and feeding them to Turner. It must be said that Turner’s ability to remember how to perform obscure songs from his catalogue at the drop of the hat is very impressive (‘English Curse’ aside 😋 )!

Turner has always been an artist that can turn the largest room into the smallest space, so the ability to watch him from your own living room certainly brings a new meaning to an intimate venue.

Whilst some of the livestream events that have taken place during these troubled time have felt somewhat soulless affairs akin to watching a soundcheck video on Youtube, the same certainly cannot be said of Turner’s livestreams. Tonight he once again somehow manages to captive and enthral us from his own house. This is a quality that cannot be taught and is an assertion of Turner’s talents as both a musical showman and a human being.

The requested setlist tonight is a mixture of the usual suspects with ‘If Ever I Stray’, ‘Be More Kind’ and ‘Get Better’ intertwined with rarer numbers such as ‘Romantic Fatigue’, ‘Cleopatra In Brooklyn’ and ‘Rivers’. These events certainly provide Turner fans with the opportunity to hear some tracks that wouldn’t normally get a look in at a regular gig.

The highlight of the evening however comes around the midway point of the 90 minute show when Turner delivers two new tracks. With a new album on the horizon fans will be eager to hear what new music is on offer. Tonight Turner whets the appetite with two excellent tracks, the sombre tribute to Scott Hutchison ‘A Wave Across the Bay’, and the punchy ‘Punches’.

With the tease of more Thursday night streams to look forward to, Frank Turner continues to provide a vital public service not just to his fans in need of entertainment but music venues in desperate need of help.

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Why We Need To Fix Our #BrokenRecord Industry

Why We Need To Fix Our #BrokenRecord Industry
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

We look at why we need to fix our #BrokenRecord Industry to ensure fair payment of artists from music streaming platforms.

What makes a #BrokenRecord Industry?

The music industry has been changing greatly in recent years and that evolution has now been exasperated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With the industry shaken to its core by the restrictions resulting from the virus, there is perhaps no better time than now to take action to secure a healthy and prosperous future for this vital industry.

Music is of course vital to so many; both those that work within the industry and the customers that rely on the industry. I recently wrote about the relationship between music and my mental health in my blog ‘Mental Health, Music and Me’, and it’s true that for many people this industry is essential to their happiness and positive mental health. It is therefore imperative that this industry is allowed to thrive.

The industry however is far from perfect and many existing issues have been highlighted further by the pandemic. I have always split the music industry in two. I have written about the struggles of the Live Music Industry in my blog ‘Why We Need To #SaveOurVenues’, so in this feature I’ll be focusing on the other side, the Record Industry.

The coronavirus pandemic has of course been a horrific and sobering time for everyone and every industry. The collapse of the live music industry due to various restrictions has had many disastrous consequences on the overall music industry.

I have also written however about the few positives that have arisen from this unprecedented situation. In a creative and innovative industry, many have turned to livestreaming to reach their audiences. I explored the positives and negatives of this evolution in my blog ‘Livestreams: Good or Bad for the Music Industry’.

Another positive to come from everybody having to stay at home, is that they have had more time to listen to music. The resurrection of Vinyl continued with sales growing for a 13th consecutive year and music streaming continuing to rise in popularity. It is the negative side of this positive however that has given rise to the #BrokenRecord movement and that is what we will explore in this article.

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The way that we consume music has changed drastically over the past decade or so. The beginnings of the digital age saw the rise of illegal file-sharing where fans found they were able to swap and share digital versions of the music that they loved.

The problem with this activity was that it completely eliminated the artist from the process of music consumption by the end user, and of course the price point of zero meant that artists saw no profit from this medium.

The knock-on effect of this was the drastic decline in the purchase of physical media such as CD’s. Of course the sales of Vinyl had already almost completely diminished, and the less said about Mini-Disks the better!

In order to combat illegal free downloading of music, the industry reluctantly brought into the concept of legal paid downloads; iTunes being the go to name at the beginning. Over the pursuant years we would see many contenders emerge for both downloading music and a new concept – streaming music.

Interestingly we would also see a kick back against digital music with the resurrection and continued resurgence of Vinyl!

A global leader in the streaming of music is Spotify. This is a company that initially felt like a swear word, their platform felt too good to be true and many will have questioned the legality of it, because if something feels too good to be true, usually it is!

Fast forward to now and Spotify is accepted into homes across the world and is for millions of the people the platform of choice for music consumption.

The benefits of streaming are numerous for both fans and artists. Having entire libraries of music at the touch of a button helps fans find new acts and helps artists reach new audiences. There is however one major downside that needs to be addressed.

So, with the ongoing pandemic allowing more people more time to listen to their favourite artist, or perhaps find their new favourite artist, let’s ask a few questions regarding music streaming. Picture this – you are sat working from home and have been listening to your favourite new album on repeat, how much money do you think that said artist has just earned?

#BrokenRecord campaign founder Tom Gray shared the below table showing the rates of pay by the various streaming platforms.

Streaming payout data shared by #BrokenRecord founder Tom Gray

So, if that album you listened to has 10 tracks and you listen to it 5 times today on Spotify. Your consumption will pay 14p. Now consider that if you brought that album on CD you’d probably have spent roughly £8.

My next question is where do you think this money goes? How much would you expect the artist who wrote, performed and recorded the music to receive? Let’s explore the issues that exist when paying streaming royalties.

Physical Terms in a Digital World

Let’s consider that the artist in question is signed to a large record company. Their standard deal which they signed will likely be a Recoupment Deal. With this deal the artist will effectively have to repay all costs and expenses associated with the making of the album. Realistically this means they cannot earn royalties until they have repaid the overall cost of the album, until then all profits go to the record company.

Remember that this debt is repaid only from the artist’s percentage of the royalty. It can therefore take years for a relatively successful artist to see any earnings from their own music. You may ask why would artists sign such deals, but ask yourself how many artists have a degree in economics? Consider that even if they have three deals in front of them to choose from, they will likely all include this clause, and the alternative is no deal and likely no album.

Now consider that 14p that the band just earned from your days binge listening. It may take years before the actual artist starts earning that 14p once all recoupment is complete; and when they do there are other issues!

The biggest issue being that the record company owns the rights to the music and therefore the band will only get on average 20% of that 14p. So 2.8p. This band happens to be a standard four-piece band and therefore that 2.8p needs to be split between the singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer. Oh and the producer.

Not to mention other possible deductions. It may shock you to know that under the terms of many contracts artists still have to pay a 10% deduction for breakages! That’s literal physically broken albums… even when digital!

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#BrokenRecord

Clearly these old contracts don’t fit with the digital age and it’s always going to be the artist that loses out. That is why Tom Gray founded the #Broken Record campaign to challenge these inequalities. It should be said that nobody is arguing that Mick Jagger needs another house or Paul McCartney another car.

This campaign is designed to fight for justice and equality for the acts of the future. Hopefully you have been surprised at how little your favourite artist earns from you listening to their music on streaming platforms. You’d probably be shocked to find out that many musicians that you follow are likely living very close to the breadline. Many artists you picture living lavish lifestyles are actually struggling to pay their rent this month.

This situation has only been intensified by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reliance on Live Music

Many artists these days rely heavily on the live side of the music industry. Playing gigs, tours and festivals is how most acts will now earn the majority of their money. This is a complete 180 switch from yesteryear. Before the digital revolution of the record industry, artists toured to raise awareness of their new albums. Nowadays artists release albums to raise awareness of their tours!

Then 2020 hit and removed that income stream, leaving many artists to survive solely on income from physical and digital sales. But whilst the vinyl renaissance may help a little, the fact is CD sales continue to fall off a cliff edge and many artists are left to survive on streaming alone. Therein lies the huge problem facing the music industry right now – how, when and perhaps if it will recover.

Even if we ignore the unfairness in the discussion around streaming revenue, what we have right now are artists and crew that can’t afford to live, to pay rent or perhaps buy food. Again I don’t envisage Elton John looking down the back of the sofa for spare change, we are talking about the emerging talent of the future, the acts of years gone by who have seen dwindling success and importantly those considering starting their careers. These are the individuals having to change course, take jobs in other sectors to pay the rent and support their families. These are the individuals that may never return to the music industry!

Even when the pandemic finally goes away and life can resume, we have the looming shadow of Brexit. Whilst that is another blog topic altogether, bands are going to struggle to afford to tour beyond the UK due to new restrictions and costs.

So, for the music industry we love and rely on to emerge from this pandemic intact we need to take action.

What needs to be done?

In reality there isn’t a lot the average music fan can do. We need action from the industry and likely that will need intervention from Government. Fans can of course support their favourite artists, buying music, merchandise and tickets. Fans can also sign relevant petitions and highlight the issue by supporting the #BrokenRecord campaign.

The changes being requested by artists aren’t necessarily ground breaking. What they are asking for in basic terms is just equal pay for equal work. To be treated with respect, decency and fairness; for their efforts and their art to be valued reasonably.

That shouldn’t be hard for fans to accept. Imagine a shop worker only being given 20% of their days wage, with their manager, supervisor and company all taking the rest. Imagine they are then further deducted the costs of their uniform and the equipment they use. That wouldn’t be fair would it?

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Possible Solutions

As already mentioned, a high level thorough review and restructure of artist’s payments from streaming is required. Options that may provide possible solutions include the likes of Equitable Remuneration (ER for short!) and User-Centric Models.

Part of this discussion will form around the question of how streaming of music should be classified. Is the music purchased, rented, or is it equitable to radio airplay? Artists currently are paid via ER for radio airplay and this method is split 50/50 and therefore can be fairly summarised as equal pay for equal work.

One of the most common ways to consume music from the likes of Spotify is to use Playlists such as our own ‘Hot List’. Spotify even label these as radio such as their Artist Radio functions. So would it be reasonable to class streams in the same category as radio airplay?

As we come to a close, I want you to once again go back to our earlier analogy. Having binged that new album whilst working from home, how would you like your money to be distributed. If this month that artist was the only artist you listened to, and you pay for your Spotify, who do you think your subscription money should go to?

At present it would be added to the overall pot and divided between all artists on the platform. Would you think it would be fairer if all your subscription money was divided just between the artists that you personally listened to this month, in our case just that one band? This would be the case if streaming platforms moved to a User-Centric Model.

There are many questions here and I won’t pretend to have all the answers. What is clear is that something needs to change and that change has never been more necessary. With the combined wreckage of the pandemic and Brexit upon us, artists can’t rely solely on the Live side of the music industry. The Record Industry must act now.

The light has been shone on this issue and all stakeholders must step up and take action to fix our #BrokenRecord Industry!

Be sure to help spread the word and raise awareness of the #BrokenRecord campaign. You can share this article by clicking the icons below!

The #BrokenRecord campaign is the creation of Tom Gray, be sure to follow Tom on Twitter for the latest updates on the campaign! When discussing the subject remember to use the hashtag #BrokenRecord.

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Features

The Year in Review 2020

Photo by Expect Best from Pexels

Full Pelt Music looks back on 2020 for our Year in Review

What a year to pick to review. It’s been a year like no other and not for good reasons.

On a personal level as detailed within my first blog, ‘The Reluctant Blogger’, I was made redundant from a job I loved, just before Christmas and during a global pandemic! Not nice, but realistically I wouldn’t be writing this blog on this website if that hadn’t happened! The decision to return to writing about music also allowed me to take a look at the relationship between music and my mental health in ‘Mental Health, Music and Me’.

For the world it has been a year of pain, struggle and despair. From the fires of Australia to the flooding of the UK early in the year and now again just before Christmas; there has been no restpite in the year of the coronavirus. Unprecedented is the word of the year, but with Brexit and the ongoing pandemic looming large, the word for next year is probably uncertain.

Everybody has struggled this year, personally and professionally. This struggle is not limited to the music industry but our industry has struggled greatly. The live side of the industry is built on bringing people together and of course that has not been possible since March. The recorded side of the industry has also struggled with delays in recording, producing and distributing.

Recovery for the grassroots of the industry is far from guaranteed. The stark and sad reality is that many musicians and hard working crew members will have needed to have sought alternative employment and the actuality here is that many will never return to the music industry. The fact is many government schemes setup to alleviate the financial pressures on individuals and businesses simply bypassed these people.

Unfortunately the pandemic has also hastened the plight of many grassroots, independent music venues.  We have sadly already lost many venues and there are still many more at imminent risk of permanent closure. We have written extensively about the issues surrounding our industry in our blog ‘Why We Need To #SaveOurVenues’, and we encourage you to get involved in the initiatives highlighted.

This is of course a creative and innovative industry and through struggle we evolve. Much like the loss of my own job bred this website, the loss of touring and live shows has seen the evolution of the livestream. Many musicians have embraced technology and sought new ways to engage with their audiences. We have looked at the rise of this phenomenon in our blog ‘Livestreams: Good or Bad for the Music Industry’.

When looking back on 2020 in the future, the memories will fill everybody with dread. There has however been some fantastic musical highlights despite everything else. We recently revealed our Album of the Year in our ‘2020 Album of the Year’ blog; and the Top 20 list was highly competitive.

2020 has produced some incredible music and that’s where we are going to focus this end of year review. In order to celebrate the successes of a very difficult year we going to look at the following awards – Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Gig of the Year, Festival of the Year and Artist of the Year!

Album of the Year

As mentioned we recently listed our Top 20 Albums of the Year here. This was a highly competitive list as 2020 saw some truly phenomenal releases.

Full Pelt Music’s Top 20 Albums of 2020

We said “It has been a crazy year, and this list has been heavily influenced by that. As mentioned the top of this list is massively impacted by new music I heard during the height of the initial lockdown. ‘Ultra Mono’ was an album that I was already extremely excited to hear; and the stream of songs released during Lockdown only served to raise that excitement to a fever pitch.

Thankfully IDLES didn’t disappoint and when the album arrived it was a pure masterpiece. It shows a natural progression on the bands first two records and grows the bands sound. It still captures what made us all fall in love with the band but by incorporating new elements into the bands sound the album shows that IDLES are no one trick pony.

Above all other releases this year and those that feature in this list, this was the album that we needed this year. In a year where we have all been knocked down one way or another, IDLES and ‘Ultra Mono’ has been a call to arms, to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and keep going.”

WINNER: ‘Ultra Mono’ by IDLES

The Contenders: ‘A Hero’s Death’ by Fontaines D.C., ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ by Bring Me The Horizon, ‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’ by Enter Shikari, ‘A Celebration of Endings’ by Biffy Clyro, and ‘Sex, Death & the Infinite Void’ by Creeper

Single of the Year

It’s been a good year for both Bring Me The Horizon and Yungblud, with both releasing stunning new records. Yungblud recently hit the number one spot with ‘weird!’ which we reviewed here, and Bring Me The Horizon silenced their doubters with ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ which we reviewed here.

It shouldn’t therefore be so much of a surprise that their collaboration together is our standout single of the year. Accompanied by an over the top video, ‘Obey’ is a rip roaring tale of corruption and brainwashing, so perfectly fitting for 2020!

WINNER: ‘Obey’ by Bring Me The Horizon feat. Yungblud

‘Obey’ – Bring Me The Horizon feat. Yungblud

The Contenders: ‘Model Village’ by IDLES, ‘Space’ by Biffy Clyro, ‘Trouble’s Coming’ by Royal Blood, and ‘Protect The Land’ by System Of A Down

Gig of the Year

I was lucky enough to catch some fantastic shows early in the year, you know BC (before Covid!), and Stereophonics, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Kaiser Chiefs and Fontaines D.C. all deserve special mention.

For my Gig of the Year however I’m again looking to the Covid era.

When life has drastically changed and you’ve been deprived of the opportunity to do something you love, you learn to savour those moments more. For me, as somebody that in 2019 attended some 93 gigs, the loss of live music was devastating. Of course, many people have endured much worse in 2020, particularly at the height of the initial national lockdown; for me however, I was just desperate for live music.

The opportunity to watch real, live music again thankfully emerged (if only for a short time) at the end of summer. Frank Turner lives by the moto “Always on Tour”, and he wasn’t going to let a global pandemic get in the way. An innovative location for a socially distanced gig was Nottingham Arboretum, basically a bandstand in a park. The result was a stunning if unusual setting for a gig which came to life when night fell and Turner serenaded the sold out crowd with his biggest hits.

A great supporting cast including Tash Bird, Holly Carter and Beans On Toast helped to make this show one to remember. The musicianship on show was fantastic, as was the togetherness and gratefulness of an audience desperate to once again forget life’s stresses and enjoy an evening of music. It was a powerful evening that brought tears to many an eye, and that’s why it wins our Gig of the Year award.

WINNER: Frank Turner @ Nottingham Arboretum (20/09)

Nottingham Arboretum

The Contenders: Stereophonics @ Kentish Town Forum (21/01), Kaiser Chiefs @ Brighton Centre (30/01), Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes @ Alexandra Palace (15/02), and Fontaines D.C. @ Norwich UEA (24/02)

Festival of the Year

The coronavirus pandemic completely obliterated the 2020 festival season, as early optimism that some festivals would survive was eventually swallowed whole by this horrible virus. With social distancing in place, festivals just were not possible. But didn’t I say that the music industry is the most creative and innovative industry? Whilst some promoters attempted to arrange socially distant shows, tours and festivals, few succeeded; with even Live Nation cancelling a huge programme of drive in shows.

I was lucky enough however to venture to two such festivals at the Norfolk Showground near Norwich. A mixture of entertainment was laid on in a specially designed arena with socially distanced ‘pods’ maintaining the necessary safety measures. Brickfest was a one day festival focussing on covers band with a handful of original acts like headliners Bad Touch thrown in. The day was a huge success given the circumstances, as was our 2020 Festival of the Year – Wild Fields Festival!

Wild Paths Festival debuted in Norwich last year with acts gracing venues across the fine city. This year the event embraced the outside arena and rebranded as Wild Fields Festival over two days was an eclectic line-up on offer. The first day featured great sets from many young artists including Lauran Hibberd, Indoor Pets, Another Sky and headliners Gengahr.

Even through the greatest adversity the power of the arts shines through and Wild Paths was a shining example of how to put on a safe, fun and thoroughly entertaining festival during a global pandemic.

WINNER: Wild Fields Festival

Brickfest at the Norfolk Showground, also host of Wild Fields Festival

The Contenders: Brickfest

Artist of the Year

Our final award is for Artist of the Year. In a such an unprecedented and difficult year this award is going to an act that has considerably contributed to making the year better. Fantastic new music has played a hugely positive role in improving a hard year. With this in mind that means that IDLES, Biffy Clyro, Enter Shikari, Bring Me The Horizon, Fontaines D.C. and Yungblud are all in the running for this award.

Beyond that however real live music when possible has been an even greater high than normal. As such Frank Turner enters the running as an act I somehow managed to catch live this year some four times including the aforementioned Gig of the Year.

But this year is different, new albums and live shows whilst normally the lifeblood of our industry almost feel insignificant when you look at the horrors witnessed across society, both inside and outside the music industry. One saving grace for many this year has been the arrival of the music livestream. A number of those already mentioned have dabbled if not excelled in this activity.

Our winner however has taken this new outlet to heart. They have provided joy and distraction to thousands of people during what must be a record setting number of livestreams. More than that, they have managed to raise an amazing amount of money for a cause I have already championed in this blog. That cause is of course the Save Our Venues campaign and our Artist of the Year is clearly that man again, Frank Turner!

In 2020, Frank Turner has probably played more real shows and more livestreams than anybody else. He has recorded and released new music including collaborations with NOFX and Jon Snodgrass. He has produced the fantastic new Beans On Toast record. He has thoroughly entertained and provided much needed distraction from the real world to thousands; and he has raised an incredible amount of money for charity.

In reality Turner deserves a medal, but what we can give him is our Artist of the Year award!

WINNER: Frank Turner

Artist of the Year – Frank Turner

The Contenders: IDLES, Biffy Clyro, Enter Shikari, Bring Me The Horizon, Fontaines D.C., and Yungblud

2020, a year we will all be hoping to forget very quickly, but there has been some great music released. All focus now however is on 2021 and those vaccinations. We hope that sooner rather than later we will be able to safely gather again in those venues and fields to watch our favourite artists in the flesh.

There will also likely be an avalanche of new music coming our way with artists having been isolated with their creatively for company. Let’s just hope that not every song is about lockdown!

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Features

Mental Health, Music and Me

Photo by Daniel Reche from Pexels

Until recently I was employed in a role that I’d describe as near to my dream job (corny, I know). As you can imagine being told that the job no longer existed didn’t have a positive effect on my mental health. Losing a job you have a great passion for is always going to hurt, but for this moment to occur both just before Christmas and in the midst of a global pandemic… to say stress levels are high would be a significant understatement.

I have naturally experienced numerous emotions since receiving this news – anger, confusion, dread, worry, fear, bitterness, rage, sadness, regret and despair to name a few. My mind of course has considered many negative connotations of this outcome including financial, vocational and personal concerns.

One positive repercussion however is that through one particularly difficult sleepless night, an urge to write emerged. What did I want to write about exactly? Music. My biggest passion in life has always been the combination of “guitars, drums and desperate poetry” as Frank Turner so eloquently put in ‘I Still Believe’. After all, life is full of ups and downs and in-betweens and so is music, with a song for every occasion and every feeling.

My relationship with music started early. I still hear certain songs (see ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits) that immediately place me as a small child in the back seat of my parents’ car with my dad driving. The thing with music is that it is visceral. As I listen to the song even now, not only can I picture sitting in that car, I can smell that car, I feel as vulnerable like a child and feel a connection to my father.

We probably all have that one song that they just can’t listen to anymore. You know the one that takes you back in time to a painful moment. Simply walking through a shop, the background music can suddenly put us in a bad place – a traumatic memory, a breakup, the loss of a loved one or perhaps relevantly the loss of a job?

The power of music to control our emotions is immense, it’s uncontrollable even. The right song at the right time can pull you out of the darkest pit of despair. Equally, the wrong song in the wrong moment can destroy even the best of moods. For me it is all about engaging with the music and learning what songs or albums help. Just as we all have that one song that we can’t listen to anymore, I bet we all have that one song or album that is our go to tune when we need a pick-me-up.

I personally have a rather eclectic taste in music, driven mainly by guitars. Put my playlist on random and you’ll find mellow acoustic numbers intermixed with heavy metal numbers so noisy you struggle to decipher the lyrics. No matter my mood, no matter the environment or occasion I find myself in, I can pull myself back with the right melody. Music truly is a powerful elixir.

Live music has particularly played a huge role in fighting the darkest periods of my mental health. I can now openly concede that music has saved my life on a few occasions. In the depths of my despairs, in times gone by, the calendar entry for a potentially great gig has been just the light at the end of the tunnel I’ve needed to step back from the ledge. This may seem irrational to some, but often there is no rationale with mental health. We all need to grab onto the one thing that can centre us when the rollercoaster of life (Ronan Keating – told you my taste was eclectic!) threatens to go off the rails.

Standing in a crowd, watching a band, and getting lost in that moment is a magical experience. It can strip away all the worries in the world, if only for one night. At times of struggle, live music has provided solace to me. Now I find myself in troubling times; job worries, the world in turmoil and a family to support. What I would give to stand in a crowd right now; to watch a band and get lost in the moment. Sadly the universe has other ideas and the very industry that my mental health relies on is standing precariously close to the ledge (thoughts on this situation coming soon!).

Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, the moral of this story is that where there is a will there is a way. As my desire to blog manifested from a dark place, the music industry has found a way to adapt within its dark place. The concept of livestreams and socially distanced gigs would have sent shivers down my spine just six months ago, but now they are a beacon of hope. Hope that we can evolve and rise above any challenge.

Our mental health is a cruel mistress and it will play tricks on us. We can learn to help ourselves however and importantly we can learn to help each other. To quote Mr. Turner again – “Be More Kind”. It’s a simple message but a mantra which benefits everyone and can’t be argued. When the world is cruel, we evolve, and with kindness we can heal wounds, mend relationships and eventually emerge from this mess.

For me music is a crutch. It supports me when I falter. It keeps me going through rough times and it offers hope that things can and will get better. I however am the first to admit that I struggle to talk about mental health. This hasn’t been easy to write, but it’s been cathartic. Talking helps and support is available:

SAMARITANS: Samaritans | Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy | Here to listen

MIND: Mind | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems

I’m hopeful that everything will work out for me. Things seem bleak now, but I have hope.