BLOG: I Won’t Stop Gigging
Posted on 11.11.2016
by Dom Flint
As a long-time supporter of the local entertainment scene in Nottingham and further afield, I was most devastated about having to give up gigging when I was diagnosed in 2007 with Multiple Sclerosis. For a period I was unable to walk and, more worryingly, unable to see. Luckily for me, both abilities returned to a sufficient degree post steroids to allow me to move over short distances with a crutch.
My first thoughts were how I could deal with local gigs in key venues. In Nottingham we are blessed with every size of concert location; from pubs hosting live music, through the Rescue Rooms and Rock City for larger bands and up to the Motorpoint Arena and Wollaton Park for the annual Splendour Festival. Unfortunately, many of these are in older buildings which have little in the way of disabled access. Rock City is a prime example where the main floor is up 3 flights of stairs!
However, when I scratch beneath the surface and contact people at these venues, I have had nothing but unwavering support and assistance. For example, at Rock City, whilst motorised wheelchairs cannot be accommodated, every other possible circumstance can be catered for via communication.
Talk to the venues. I’ve been accommodated in a Northampton pub and equally well in Old Trafford thanks to early planning and communication.
Whenever I attend a gig, which has, in fact, increased due to doing regular gig reviews for the local paper, I ensure I contact the venue, specify my requirements and without fail receive polite supportive replies. I get let in before the queue with my PA and get provided with a bar stool to sit on which is all I need to be able to enjoy the entertainment. The only issues I have experienced are when communication does break down. Either word hasn’t got to the front desk that I am on the guest list (for a review) or there is a delay at the door. Then a night can be ruined by pain and anger – but this has only happened twice in 9 years which given I gig on average twice a month isn’t too bad.
From a personal perspective, getting to the venue can be as much of an issue as the actual venue itself, as I do like to have a shandy or two and driving would be out of the question. Once more, being in an urban setting helps, as our bus network is adequate to get me into town with my concessionary pass. Unfortunately this ceases to apply at 11pm on weekdays, which is before the last bus of the evening and so I have to pay to get home again, an annoyance for those weekday gigs.
I have even ventured further afield to gigs in Sheffield, Derby, Manchester and London with what I would consider varying degrees of support and success. Some venues have been quite awkward to get to. At one large London venue, even with blue badge parking, it seemed miles away from the venue so it was a long, tiring trudge. And one festival I attended with a day pass was impacted by a torrential downpour that had drowned the whole weekend, so they had to move the parking further from the festival site – some form of transport would have been appreciated in those circumstances.
Other than distance issues, every venue I have visited has been helpful and understanding with regard to my needs when I have expressed requirements and I think that’s the key point. Talk to the venues. I’ve been accommodated in a Northampton pub and equally well in Old Trafford thanks to early planning and communication. Obviously my disability requirements aren’t as great as some, but from my perspective I have always found people at live music venues eager to help if they can, as we are the lifeblood that keeps the music scene alive.