Saturday, 18 July 2009

The day live music died

A new layer of government bureaucracy is threatening to pull the plug on pub rock. Andy McSmith reports

You are in a pub, having a good time, and someone walks in with a guitar, drink flows, and the crowd starts singing some old number like, say, "I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)". Before the evening is out, the poor publican could be fighting the law, and the law will win again.

Live music is fast disappearing from pubs, clubs, wine bars, restaurants and other small venues, musicians claim, because of a law passed in 2003, when the Government was trying to eliminate teenage violence that they associated with badly organised music events.

Hopes were raised recently when the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport ended a lengthy investigation into the 2003 Licensing Act by recommending that venues with a capacity of fewer than 200 people should be exempt.

But this week, the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, gave the Government's reply: it does not matter how small a venue is, it can still attract trouble. Mr Burnham has agreed to revisit the issue, but not for "at least a year", by which time there could be a different government. Read more
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