James Hendicott: I bought gig tickets this week – a vote for optimism?

by James Hendicott

My last attendance at a live gig, at least in person, was the Choice Music Prize in Vicar Street on March 6 of this year.

I remember being nervous about being in a crowd, as seven days earlier, the very first case of coronavirus had been detected in Ireland.

My wife and I felt a touch intimidated, but decided that since we would be seated throughout, and we suspected we wouldn’t get a night out for a few weeks (remember when it felt like it would be a few weeks?), we’d go ahead and catch ten of Ireland’s best live acts under one roof.

Things changed quickly, of course, and ten days later many of us had been sent home. By the time some very small shows opened again in the city in the summer, I’d already decided I just wasn’t going to take the risk, especially for shows that simply wouldn’t be anything like the same as we were used to. All the shows I had lined up for the summer were postponed or cancelled. Fortunate to still be amongst the employed, I tried to throw some money at my favourite artists in the form of buying records or paying for live streams instead.

In the last couple of weeks, though, as vaccine news developed, I started buying a couple of gig tickets again. Not small, affordable ones, either, but big shows with attendances in the thousands that will take place in the middle of and late next year. I’m not 100% sure that they’ll happen, and I fully recognise the risk: I’m still waiting on a refund from a certain airline for things that haven’t happened over the last few months. Nevertheless, if the music industry is to survive, at some point us punters need to show some confidence by voting with our feet, and allow those running the show to start things up again.

A few gig tickets, then, are my little vote for optimism. I won’t be doing the same with everything. After all, it’s a little bit like gambling with your cash, in a sense. I’m yet to even contemplate booking a trip abroad, for example (or even, to be honest, one outside the city), but by telling myself that we will be gathering in our thousands in July, I let myself get through the winter feeling just a little bit more optimistic about what’s to come.

Your hope will probably take a different form – we’re all different, after all. That hope feels real now, though, and it’s done no end of good to my mood. It’s a light that we all need to keep burning.

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