Patti Smith pens heartfelt Tom Verlaine tribute: “There was no one like Tom”

“As I watched Tom play, I thought, Had I been a boy, I would’ve been him”

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Patti Smith has paid tribute to late Television frontman Tom Verlaine in a new essay.

The singer, guitarist and songwriter died last weekend (January 28), aged 73, following a “brief illness”.

His passing was confirmed by Jesse Paris Smith (daughter of Patti) in a press release, which said Verlaine “died peacefully in New York City” while “surrounded by close friends”.

News of his death was followed by tributes from Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ Flea, Tim Burgess, Primal Scream and more.

Posting a tribute on Instagram this weekend, Patti Smith, who previously dated and collaborated with Verlaine, wrote: “This is a time when all seemed possible. Farrwell Tom, aloft the Omega.”

The singer-songwriter has now paid fresh tribute to the late musician with an essay in the New Yorker, recalling his creative process of “exquisite torment”.

“He awoke to the sound of water dripping into a rusted sink,” she began, recalling how he “lay shuddering, riveted by flickering movements of aliens and angels as the words and melodies of [debut album] ‘Marquee Moon’ were formed, drop by drop, note by note, from a state of calm yet sinister excitement.

“He was Tom Verlaine, and that was his process: exquisite torment.”

The singer went on to explain that the musician lived 28 minutes from where she was raised, but they never crossed paths.

“We could easily have sauntered into the same Wawa on the Wilmington-South Jersey border in search of Yoo-hoo or Tastykakes,” Smith continued. “We might have met, two black sheep, on some rural stretch, each carrying books of the poetry of French Symbolists—but we didn’t.

Tom Verlaine of Television. Credit: Steve Thorne via Redferns

“That was, until Easter night, April 14, 1974. Lenny Kaye and I took a rare taxi ride from the Ziegfeld Theatre after seeing the première of “Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones,” straight down to the Bowery to see a new band called Television.”

She added: “What we saw that night was kin, our future, a perfect merging of poetry and rock and roll. As I watched Tom play, I thought, Had I been a boy, I would’ve been him.”

Smith explained that she would see Television whenever they played, “mostly to see Tom, with his pale blue eyes and swanlike neck”.

“He bowed his head, gripping his Jazzmaster, releasing billowing clouds, strange alleyways populated with tiny men, a murder of crows, and the cries of bluebirds rushing through a replica of space. All transmuted through his long fingers, all but strangling the neck of his guitar.”

The pair grew closer, she continued, recalling that each other’s bookcases were “nearly identical, even those by authors difficult to find”.

“He was angelic yet slightly demonic, a cartoon character with the grace of a dervish. I knew him then,” she continued.

“There was no one like Tom. He possessed the child’s gift of transforming a drop of water into a poem that somehow begat music. In his last days, he had the selfless support of devoted friends. Having no children, he welcomed the love he received from my daughter, Jesse, and my son, Jackson.

“In his final hours, watching him sleep, I travelled backward in time. We were in the apartment, and he cut my hair, and some pieces stuck out this way and that, so he called me Winghead. In the years to follow, simply Wing. Even when we got older, always Wing. And he, the boy who never grew up, aloft the Omega, a golden filament in the vibrant violet light.”

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe was among others to share their reverence for the late proto-punk icon, sharing: “I’ve lost a hero.”

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Sparks announce 2023 UK, European and North American tour dates

“See you all soon! It’s a Sparks show, a Sparks show, a Sparks show tonight!”

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Sparks have announced new UK, European and North American tour dates for 2023 – tickets will be available here (UK).

The Los Angeles duo – comprising brothers Ron and Russell Mael – are due to release their 26th studio album, ‘The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte’, on May 26 via Island.

Yesterday (January 30) the band confirmed that they’ll be playing a run of UK headline shows ahead of their previously announced gigs at the Royal Albert Hall in London this May.

Sparks are scheduled to take to the stage at New Theatre Oxford on May 23 before visiting the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool (May 24), the SEC Armadillo in Glasgow (26) and Bridgewater Hall in Manchester (27).

Following their two-night billing in London, the group will appear at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, Madrid and Porto ahead of further European dates in Paris, Utrecht, Copenhagen, Berlin and Brussels in June.

Sparks are set to embark on a North American tour later that month and into July, with stop-offs including New York, Boston, Toronto, Austin and Los Angeles. The duo will then visit Japan for concerts in Osaka and Tokyo.

“We are thrilled to be back on tour again and to be able to share our joy with so many Sparks fans around the world,” Sparks said in a statement. “See you all soon! It’s a Sparks show, a Sparks show, a Sparks show tonight!”

Tickets go on general sale at 10am local time this Friday (February 3) – you’ll be able to purchase yours here (UK) and here (North America). Alternatively, you can access either a fan club or ‘Maeling List’ pre-sale (see details below).

Sparks’ 2023 UK tour dates are as follows:

23 – New Theatre Oxford, Oxford
24  – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
26  – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow
27 – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
29  – Royal Albert Hall, London
30 – Royal Albert Hall, London 

Per a press release, the forthcoming ‘The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte’ sees Sparks continue down a “unique and uncompromising path”, and is described as a “bold, genre defying, modern masterpiece”.

Speaking of their return to Island Records, Sparks said in a joint statement: “Funny how things work! One of the most memorable periods for Sparks, the one that forever cemented our relationship with the UK and also exposed Sparks to a bigger audience around the world, was the 70s Island Records era.

“And here we find ourselves in 2023, almost 50 years later, re-signing with Island Records, again with an album that we all feel is as bold and uncompromising as anything we did back then, or for that matter, anytime throughout our career.”

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Kasabian, Wet Leg, Courteeners and more to headline Teenage Cancer Trust 2023 at Royal Albert Hall

Tickets for this year’s run of special gigs go on sale this week

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Kasabian, Wet Leg and Courteeners are among the acts announced for this year’s Teenage Cancer Trust gig series in London.

The 2023 edition of the charity’s annual run of concerts is due to take place at the Royal Albert Hall between March 20 and March 25. The aforementioned bands will join Underworld in staging headline concerts at the historic venue.

For two decades, the iconic series has featured the best in music and comedy, raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust and driven by Teenage Cancer Trust Honorary Patron and The Who frontman Roger Daltrey.

Underworld will open the week of shows, playing the Royal Albert Hall on March 20. Gigs from Wet Leg (March 22), Courteeners (24) and Kasabian (25) are to follow, with a ‘Night Of Comedy’ scheduled for March 21. Details of the latter event are to be confirmed soon.

“It’s such an honour and a delight and it’s just really fucking great to be performing for the wonderful Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall on March 20th,” said Underworld in a statement.

Courteeners will perform their debut album ‘St. Jude’ in its entirety as well as a selection of greatest hits. Joining Wet Leg on the bill on March 22, meanwhile, will be CMAT and Honeyglaze.

Tickets for Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall 2023 go on general sale at 9:30am this Friday (February 3). You’ll be able to purchase yours here.

Speaking to NME, Kasabian frontman Serge Pizzorno explained: “Getting to play in that room is an incredible thing, but to be patrons of this charity and to have been involved for this long is special because they’re phenomenal.

“Having a night out is great, but to spread the word and help this charity who have raised millions and done so much incredible work is great. Whenever we’re asked to play we always say yes.”

Roger Daltrey said in a statement: “The generosity of the people who work in the music and comedy industries never ceases to amaze me. In this, our 21st year, after two years of artists having no shows at all, at a time where the only certain paydays are from live performances, artists are willing to give up their earnings from a London show.

“It shows us that miracles are everywhere, but if you cough or sneeze you’d miss them! I’m happy to announce the Royal Albert Hall week for Teenage Cancer Trust!”

Katie Collins, Chief Executive, Teenage Cancer Trust, added: “These amazing gigs and their fantastic line-ups help us change lives. Because of Roger, the artists, the teams who make these gigs possible and everyone who buys a ticket, we can make sure young people don’t face cancer alone and continue to provide the vital, expert care and support that is crucial for young people with cancer.”

The full list of shows is as follows:

20 March – Underworld
21 March – Night Of Comedy
22 March – Wet Leg
24 March – Courteeners
25 March – Kasabian

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Kasabian on headlining Royal Albert Hall and new material: “There’s some wild shit happening”

Serge Pizzorno tells NME about playing a Teenage Cancer Trust gig for a fifth time, feeling “like Neo in The Matrix” as a frontman, and working on “rhythmic, hypnotic and positive” new material

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Kasabian frontman Serge Pizzorno has spoken to NME about the “honour” of headlining London’s Royal Albert Hall for Teenage Cancer Trust for a fifth time, as well as what to expect from the band’s “wild” new material.

The Leicester band were today announced for the esteemed series of charity gigs, headlining a show at the iconic venue in March alongside the likes of Underworld, Courteeners and Wet Leg.

This will be the fifth time the band have performed a TCT show, having first played in 2007 before returning in 2009, 2013 then again in 2018.

“Getting to play in that room is an incredible thing, but to be patrons of this charity and to have been involved for this long is special because they’re phenomenal,” Pizzorno told NME. “Having a night out is great, but to spread the word and help this charity who have raised millions and done so much incredible work is great. Whenever we’re asked to play we always say yes.”

Credit: Neil Bedford

Looking back on the first time the band played the Royal Albert Hall, Pizzorno said: “I just remember being mesmerised by the building. I always saw concerts from there on the telly as a kid and walking in there, you get that same feeling you get from a cathedral. It’s eerie because it’s cold, but it’s so huge and steeped in history.

“It’s set up for orchestras – which I love as a big fan of classical music and movie soundtracks – so I could feel the echoes of all the tubas that have been played there over the years. You look up at those mushrooms on the ceiling and you’re hit by what an honour it is to play in this place.”

Will they have any surprises in store for the show?

“There are always far-out plans, but scheduling usually messes it all up,” Pizzorno replied. “There’s always room for something last minute, and we’ll raise that building off the ground for sure. There’s a list of people we’d like to parachute in for sure.”

Serge Pizzorno performs live with Kasabian. CREDIT: Getty

Pizzorno said that “if you’re playing Royal Albert Hall then you’ve already won, as a gig like this is a victory lap”. This comes after the band claimed their sixth chart-topping album back in August with the acclaimed seventh LP ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ – their first in five years and first since the exit of former frontman Tom Meighan, who left the Leicester band in 2020 after assaulting his partner Vikki Ager.

A sold-out arena tour, festival headline shows and a run of dates in Japan came in support of the album, which Pizzorno described as “a really beautiful time”.

Speaking of his time since stepping up as a frontman, Pizzorno said: “I’m just learning now – I’m a student of the game. For every minute of every show, I’m just figuring shit out. I enjoy it. I’m like Neo in The Matrix. I’m just bending time and starting to read the code.”

While on the road and in the studio, the guitarist had also noticed a wealth of new bands – noting that “guitar music feels like it’s in a great place”.

“It feels like something is going to happen soon,” he said. “It feels like it’s bubbling nicely. I think Jockstrap are really fucking good. Technology is really seeping into the production of guitar music and making it really interesting.

“Since day one I’ve always been into bending the form. Not to say that there’s nothing wrong just with some kids coming out with some fast and heartfelt rock’n’roll – that would be unbelievable – but at the same time, I think it’s an interesting time for production.”

Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno at Nottingham’s Rock City. Credit: Getty

Off the back of the success and reception of ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’, Pizzorno said he felt a renewed ambition to push the envelope even further sonically on their next album.

“It’s an interesting one because if you track the history of the band, you see that what happened on ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ is what’s been happening for the last 20-odd years,” he admitted. “People get the chance to reevaluate everything and what they think we are, and it feels like we’ve got a clean slate.

“I’ll approach the next record like I have each one so far – with pure instinct and following that wherever it leads. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s the best chance you have of making something exciting. Maybe I’m reacting against the world, but right now I’m just trying to put some positive vibes out there.”

Pizzorno said that he was currently “in the studio every day” with “some wild shit happening”, adding that “rhythms and hypnotic grooves” had been “at the forefront” of the new songs.

“I’m fucking excited,” he said. “[You’ll hear it] whenever it feels good. We don’t really make too many plans about it. When we’re feeling good, then that’s the time.”

For now, Pizzorno said his focus was on upcoming shows with the TCT gig at Royal Albert Hall “a wonderful thing to be a part of”.

He added: “Get a ticket and come and enjoy a fucking beautiful evening.”

Check out the full line-up for Teenage Cancer Trust 2023 at London’s Royal Albert Hall below. Tickets are on sale from 9:30am on Friday, February 3, and will be available here.

Monday March 20 – Underworld 
Tuesday March 21 – Night of Comedy 
Wednesday March 22 – Wet Leg 
Friday March 24 – Courteeners 
Saturday March 25 – Kasabian 

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BBC reveals Eurovision 2023 slogan and visual identity

This year’s theme nods to both host city Liverpool and Ukraine

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Eurovision has revealed its new slogan and visual identity for this year’s competition.

The 2023 edition of the annual song contest is due to take place at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool on Saturday, May 13. This year, the UK is staging Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine due to the country’s ongoing war with Russia.

Eurovision 2022 winners Kalush Orchestra previously said they were “pleased” that Liverpool would be staging the event, explaining: “We know that the people of Liverpool will be warm hosts and the organisers will be able to add a real Ukrainian flavour to Eurovision 2023 in this city.”

Today (January 31), the BBC has announced that the slogan for this year’s competition is ‘United By Music‘, which reflects the power music has to bring people together.

“The new slogan demonstrates the unique partnership between the UK, Ukraine and host city Liverpool to bring the 2023 Contest to audiences across the globe and the incredible power of music to bring communities together,” a statement reads.

“It also reflects the very origins of the contest, developed to bring Europe closer together through a shared TV experience across different countries.”

Eurovision 2023 banners on St George’s Hall in Liverpool
Eurovision 2023 banners on St George’s Hall in Liverpool

The wider visual identity for the 2023 contest was designed through creative partnership between UK agency Superunion and Ukraine studio Starlight Creative.

“With over 160 million viewers watching last year, the look of the vibrant, wider identity celebrates this shared cultural experience as ‘millions of hearts beat as one’,” a press release adds.

“Inspired by the Ukrainian and UK flags, the colours used are designed to reflect the joy and diversity of the contest.”

The featured typeface, meanwhile, is called ‘Penny Lane’ – inspired by the 20th-century cast-iron signs displaying Liverpool street names and a nod to the city’s rich musical heritage.

The new branding will first be seen by viewers during the ‘handover and allocation draw’ programme tonight (January 31), which is being presented by Rylan and AJ Odudu. You can tune in from 7pm GMT on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

Additionally, Liverpool’s St George’s Hall and the ‘Liverpool’ sign at Liverpool ONE are set to be dressed in the brand this week before it’s rolled out wider across the city in April ahead of the main Eurovision event.

See the preview tweets and images above.

Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine won Eurovision 2022 with the highest share of the public vote. CREDIT: Getty

Martin Green CBE, Managing Director, Eurovision Song Contest 2023, BBC, said: “The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will be a truly special event and the creative look is a big part of creating that magic.

“This year’s identity sums up perfectly the amazing partnerships across the Contest and more importantly the power of music to bring people together across the world.”

Superunion’s Executive Creative Director, Stuart Radford and Creative Director, Katherina Tudball, added: “We are thrilled to create the 67th Eurovision Song Contest visual identity in partnership with Ukrainian agency, Starlight, and the BBC.

“For this year’s theme, ‘United By Music’, our solution was inspired by research showing that when experiencing live music together, human hearts synchronise to beat in unison. This insight led to the creative concept of 160 million hearts beating as one, an idea that captures the universal spirit of Eurovision.”

Olena Martynova, CEO, Starlight Creative, commented: “Creativity and music both have the power to unite and inspire. We are so proud to be part of the creative concept for such an important musical event when more than ever, we need to come together as a global community.

“For Starlight, it is an opportunity to represent Ukraine on an international stage, showcase our creative and musical ability, and create something that honours our strength and the power of unity.”

In other news, the Eurovision Song Contest has announced major voting changes for 2023.

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‘Call It Love’: Lee Sung-kyung and Kim Young-kwang star in new trailer from Disney+

The new Disney+ K-drama premieres next month

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Disney+ has unveiled a new trailer for its upcoming original K-drama Call It Love starring Lee Sung-kyung (Sh**ting Stars) and Kim Young-kwang (Somebody).

Set to premiere in February, Call It Love follows a young woman, Shim Woo-joo (played by Lee), whose life falls apart after she finds out her father has been having an affair. Shortly after his death his mistress kicks Woo-joo out of her family home, leaving her penniless.

Woo-joo vows to take revenge and approaches Han Dong-jin (Kim Young-kwang), the mistress’s son from a previous relationship, to gain proximity to the family. However, Woo-joo soon realises that she and Dong-jin have more in common than she expected, and the pair begin forming a romantic bond.

The new trailer offers a look at Woo-joo’s backstory. “The girl who even took back her shoes after getting them stolen got her house taken away,” says a narrator as she takes one final glimpse at her family home. Sitting at her desk at work, she revolves to take her revenge and begins keeping tabs on Dong-jin.

Call It Love also stars Sung Joon (Island), EXID’s Hani (credited as Ahn Hee-yeon) and Cheat On Me If You Can’s Kim Ye-won, though little is known about the characters they will be playing. The series will premiere on Disney+ on February 22 and run for a total of 16 episodes.

The upcoming K-drama is one of several upcoming Korean-language Disney+ titles initially announced in late 2022. Other dramas the streamer is set to premiere this year include Moving, which is based on a webtoon, crime drama Worst of Evil and RACE.

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Lewis Capaldi breaks Scottish concert record

The singer-songwriter is currently out on a UK and Ireland arena tour

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Lewis Capaldi has broken the record for the biggest-selling indoor live show in Scotland.

The Glasgow-born singer-songwriter sold more than 15,000 tickets for his concert at the P&J Live arena in Aberdeen, which took place on January 23 as part of his current UK and Ireland headline tour.

Louise Stewart, interim MD at P&J Live, said (via IQ): “Monday’s show was absolutely phenomenal. The perfect blend of humour and pure talent, Lewis entertained the record-breaking crowd with new music, some classic hits and gave us a few laughs along the way. This is a fantastic accolade for P&J Live and is exactly what the venue was built for.

“We would like to thank DF Concerts & Events for bringing Lewis up the North East of Scotland and to his fans for all their continued support – we couldn’t do it without you. We look forward to continuing to bring a variety of world-class acts to the region.”

Operated by ASM Global, the £333million P&J Live venue opened back in August 2019 and replaced the former Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC).

“P&J Live was the perfect venue for Lewis’ full-hearted songs and incredible production on his hugely successful arena tour,” added ASM programming director James Harrison.

“Nearly 15,000 fans from Scotland’s North East standing on the floor has to be seen to be believed, a unique sight in UK venues, an incredible atmosphere and a night to remember for everyone that was there.”

In a four-star review of Capaldi’s recent show in Leeds, NME described the event as “part lachrymose ballads, part extended, and very funny, Netflix special stand-up show”.

Capaldi is due to release his second studio album, ‘Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent’, on May 19 via EMI. You can pre-order/pre-save it here. He’s already released two singles from the record: ‘Forget Me’ and ‘Pointless’.

Meanwhile, Lewis Capaldi is set to play at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in May before making a headline appearance at Reading & Leeds 2023 in August.

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UK grassroots venues “going over a cliff” without urgent government action or investment from arenas

NME attended the launch of Music Venue Trust’s annual report at Parliament – laying out simple government steps to save venues and demanding new arenas support the rest of the talent pipeline

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A new report from the Music Venue Trust shows that grassroots gig spaces in the UK are “going over a cliff” – shutting off the pipeline of future talent without urgent government action and investment from new large arenas.

The MVT, which represents almost 1,000 UK grassroots music venues, has today (Tuesday January 31) shared its 2022 annual report – laying out the value of the sector to both the UK economy and the music industry, as well as the grave danger that venues and UK face without urgent action.

The report was launched last week with an event attended by NME at the Houses Of Parliament, with a sobering speech from the MVT and a performance from patron Frank Turner.

“This is a £500million sector delivering 177,000 events a year, employing 31,000 people, and with 21million people visiting grassroots music venues every year,” said MVT CEO Mark Davyd at the event. “It’s remarkable that we have to publish a report before anybody noticed that. We should have known that all along – how important these venues are to local communities and to our friends from the music industry.

“However, that’s the end of the good news. This sector is really seriously in trouble. With £500million of turnover, that’s £499million in costs and a a 0.2 per cent profit margin. It’s not sustainable. There are 177,000 events happening, but it’s down 16.7 per cent. We used to do an average of 4.2 events per week at these venues, and we’re now down to 3.5.”

Mark Davyd speaks at the launch of the Music Venue Trust’s annual report at The Houses Of Parliament. Credit: Georgia Penny

He continued: “Every single one of those venues that isn’t doing one of those shows means a musician who isn’t getting their first chance, it’s someone who might never step foot on a stage, it’s a lost career for that individual and to the British music industry, it’s a loss to that community, and it cannot go on. It has got to stop.”

Highlighting a number of “very significant problems”, Davyd started by pointing to the cost of the energy crisis – which threatens to “close more venues than COVID” unless addressed.

“The Chancellor’s position on the Energy Relief Package is nonsense,” said Davyd. “I’m sorry to say that in Parliament and I’m supposed to be non-political, but it won’t work. We have venues with a 0.2 per cent profit margin, facing a seven per cent increase in their energy costs on April 1. That’s in three months. The Chancellor has written to OfGem asking them what they might do. It doesn’t matter what they might do.

“There is a package of support for industries that might fail if they can’t afford their energy, and the grassroots music venues need to be in it – now. We can’t wait until April 1 to find out whether OfGem are in a good mood. We need change on this right now. ”

Elsewhere, the MVT also highlighted the VAT applied to venue ticket sales as “crushing the economic viability of this sector and reducing the ability of the grassroots to create new British talent.”

“We’re operating on a 0.2 per cent profit margin with about £1million in profit being made – that’s on £133million of tickets,” said Davyd. “They’re spending £212million on live music, and losing £79million promoting new artists, emerging talent and investing in our communities. That can’t go on.

“It can’t be the responsibility of a music venue in Bromsgrove on a Tuesday night to go to a cashpoint and take their own money out so that we can build the careers of artists which the music industry goes on to make millions of pounds for and pay unbelievable amounts of tax.

“You’ve got to ask yourself as a Parliamentarian, how many Ed Sheerans do you want? Because we produced the last one and we can produce the next one. He played 366 shows at the grassroots music level, and Ed will tell you himself that he learned how to be Ed Sheeran. He didn’t just walk on stage and could suddenly headline Wembley – it took him 366 shows.

“You need a space where people can learn their skills.”

Ed Sheeran CREDIT: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

Davyd explained how UK venues are “paying a ludicrous amount of tax out of this sector and into the treasury and that’s through pre-profit taxation” – at a highly uncompetitive rate compared to the much of the rest of Europe.

“We’re paying that through VAT on tickets at 20 per cent, which is the highest of any major music nation Europe – second only to Lithuania in the amount we charge people for putting on new and emerging talent. That is ridiculous,” said Davyd.

“Grassroots venus are the research and development wing of the music industry. Why the hell are we taxing people for doing that? We don’t do that in any other industry. If you want people to create new products, new British intellectual property rights, and to create ‘Brand Britain’, then what are you taxing them at source for? That makes no sense. Why pay more to see our own artists in our country than you have to pay in tax to see them in France?”

As well as calling for changes to planning applications so that the MVT can get involved to stop developments and residents launching noise complaints against existing venues – a matter that Manchester’s Night & Day are currently battling with – Davyd also demanded an end to “excessive business rates” that cripple grassroots spaces.

“These are places that make people go out and that get people inspired,” he said. “Every £10 spent in a grassroots music venue leads to £17 spent elsewhere in the night time economy. If you want to get this economy moving, you’ve got to break down the cost.

“I’ll offer, on behalf of every grassroots music venue, to pay 50 per cent tax on all profit we make on live music – because we’re not making any money on live music, but you’re making us pay tax and it’s completely unsustainable. VAT has to come down, business rates need to be reviewed, that’s the end of it. Please get on top of this, Parliamentarians. It’s really cutting the legs out of our industry.”

Manchester’s Night & Day. Credit: Ben Smithson

Government aside, MVT also outlined plans to require all new music arenas opening in the UK to “contribute to the security of the wider music ecosystem by investing a percentage of every ticket they sell into the grassroots music ecosystem”.

“I’m putting the music industry on notice: we are over the edge,” Davyd told those assembled at Parliament. “We’re not near the edge, we’re over the edge and we’re tumbling down. You need to throw a lifeline down. We can’t pay £79million a year to create the artists that are going to appear on your festival stages. It’s not possible for us to do that.

“There are eight new arenas being built in the UK. I told someone from the industry this and they couldn’t believe me, although it’s probably their artists that will be filling it for the next six years or so. But they won’t be filling it in 10 years, because it’s possible that The Rolling Stones will eventually die.

Davyd continued: “We have got to have a proper research and development arm in this country that supports new artists, develops their careers and brings them out of this. That is the responsibility of everyone in this industry, and it simply isn’t good enough to wait for a lone venue operator to take a chance on a new band, losing money until you can wait until they sell enough tickets to take it up a level so the artist can never go back there again and there’s no return for that venue operator.”

Artist’s impression of Co-op Live

Pointing to the eight new arenas being built across the UK in the coming years, Davyd demanded that “not a single one of those arenas should open unless it has a policy where every ticket sold is investing back into grassroots music venues and grassroots artists”.

“Otherwise, you’re building a carbuncle, a white elephant in the middle of our major cities that will not be filled in 10 years time because there won’t be the artists to fill it,” he argued. “Co-Op Live in Manchester will be a 23,500 capacity venue due to open later this year or early next year. It has no plan at all to invest in the grassroots venues that are going to create the artists that will fill that stage in 10 years time. That is not good enough.

He went on: “I’m telling Andy Burnham, I’m telling Manchester MPs, I’m telling Manchester City Council: you should not grant a licence for that venue to open if it can’t work out how to put money back into the grassroots system from which the artists it relies on are being produced.

“Say no to these arenas unless there is a pipeline. The arenas have got to get on board. You can do it for 50p on a ticket. You know how much these tickets cost? At 23,500 tickets a night, you’d raise £11,000.”

Davyd added: “The distribution of wealth in this industry has got to change and be sustainable for grassroots or we all heading down over the cliff. You’re coming with us, you’re chained to us, don’t leave us dangling, come and support us.”

The event at Parliament took place at the invitation of MP Kevin Brennan – who began by arguing that grassroots music venues are the “research and development arm of the UK music industry”.

“This is where the future of the industry lies,” he said. “It’s the pipeline. Continually, grassroots music venues are potentially under threat. We’re one of the few countries in the world who are a net exporter of music, and that’s not going to carry on being the case unless we’ve got a very vibrant grassroots music sector across the country.”

MVT patron Frank Turner, who performed several songs on the night, agreed with Brennan but argued that “that is not the only reason that the grassroots music sector matters”.

“There is an awful lot of art and culture that exists in these spaces but isn’t going on its way to be a stadium act,” said Turner. “It’s just art that is worthy of our consideration, our support and our belief. Let’s believe in every band who plays in a grassroots music venue, or at least who gives it a go.”

The launch of the Music Venue Trust’s annual report at The Houses Of Parliament. Credit: Georgia Penny

Visit here to read Music Venue Trust’s full annual 2022 report.

Last year, MVT also launched its ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign aimed at providing ownership to grassroots music venues across the country.

The scheme, which was backed recently by Ed Sheeran, aims to secure the long-term futures of these venues by directly tackling the issue of ownership. The scheme has been likened to “The National Trust, but for venues”.

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Pete Waterman on the thing he learned from The Specials’ Terry Hall

“Terry taught me the greatest lesson of my life,” Waterman said

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Legendary producer and songwriter Pete Waterman has revealed the lessons he learned from Terry Hall, saying The Specials frontman taught him “about the quality of performance rather than just the voice”. 

Waterman spoke of Hall, who passed away last month, as part of NME’s Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! series. Waterman, who once briefly managed The Specials alongside his role as a songwriter and producer of the Stock Aitken Waterman trio, said Hall “taught me not to listen to a human voice and go, ‘He can’t sing’”.

“You’ve got to listen to a voice and go: ‘is it distinctive’?”, Waterman added. The impresario went on to reference fellow The Specials member Jerry Dammers, who enlisted Hall’s vocals to Waterman’s initial dismay. “Terry Hall had a unique voice and he had been brought in by Jerry and I tried to talk him out of it, saying: ‘He can’t sing’. But Jerry thought Terry was the key and he was right”.

As a result of Hall’s distinctive voice, Waterman said the singer had “taught me the greatest lesson of my life and what to look for in the future”. He continued: “Think about it: was Pete Burns a great singer? It’s about the quality of performance rather than just the voice… “Without Terry Hall, there would have been no [Stock Aitken Waterman]”.

Waterman also recalled going to school with Hall and living nearby him. Elsewhere in the interview, Waterman said there would be no Oasis without him, since he provided a young Noel Gallagher with free guitar strings. “He always credits me with giving him his start”, Waterman said of the Oasis band member. “Without my free guitar strings, he couldn’t have carried on”.

Waterman also dubbed Gallagher as one of SAW’s most unexpected fans. Later, the songwriter discussed covering Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye’s ‘You Are Everything’ with Judas Priest, and sharing “magic” moments with Kylie Minogue on tour.

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LE SSERAFIM to hold first-ever fan meeting ‘FEARNADA’ in March

International fans will be able to live-stream both days of the event

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Girl group and NME 100 act LE SSERAFIM are set to hold their first fan meeting event this March.

On January 31 at midnight KST, the agency Source Music released a teaser video unveiling the title of LE SSERAFIM’s upcoming fan meeting ‘FEARNADA’. Later that day, the label released a poster containing more details, sharing that the quintet’s fan meeting will be held both on and offline on March 18 (Saturday) and 19 (Sunday).

According to Source Music, LE SSERAFIM’s ‘FEARNADA’ fan meeting will be held at the Olympic Park Olympic Hall in Seoul on both days, with the Saturday show starting at 6PM KST and Sunday show at 5PM KST. A ticket to the in-person events will cost 99,000KRW.

Livestream passes for both days of the fan meeting will also be available for fans unable to attend in person. A one-day pass will be available to the public at 59,400KRW, while the member-exclusive two-day pass will cost 105,600KRW. Fans will be required to purchase LE SSERAFIM’s official fan-club membership on Weverse for access to the latter.

Source Music will release booking information for both in-person and online tickets to the ‘FEARNADA’ fan meeting at a later date.

The upcoming event will mark LE SSERAFIM’s first fan meeting since their debut in May 2022 with ‘Fearless’. The girl group’s most recent domestic release was their sophomore mini-album ‘ANTIFRAGILE’ in October 2022.

Last week, LE SSERAFIM made their Japanese debut by dropping Japanese versions of their songs ‘Fearless’ and ‘Blue Flame’, plus a new song ‘Choices’. The new version of ‘Fearless’ topped Japan’s weekly Oricon chart, breaking a record set by Korean-Japanese girl group IZ*ONE and making LE SSERAFIM the first foreign female act to top the chart in over five years, as Yonhap reported.

LE SSERAFIM are preparing to hold their first world tour in 2023, which is expected to include stops in Asia, North America and more, according to HYBE Labels’ 2022 briefing.

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