This discussion between a parent in Leeds and the management of Colin Towns’ band Blue Touch Paper just doesn’t feel right:
PARENT: My 12 year old son (big Benny Greb fan) and I look forward to seeing you in Leeds… It’s just dawned on me, is a twelve year old allowed in?
BLUE TOUCH PAPER Hello [S]. We regret to say that unfortunately the Wardrobe in Leeds state a 14+ only policy for this event. 14s to 18s must be accompanied by an adult. There are plans for future tours if that’s any consolation.
Been there. Gone through that. . We heard all the reasons..alcohol..punters dont want young kids in the venue, health and safety, it would affect their licence etc. Your son will get to 14 and you will be able to take him to many venues. In the meantime look for venues that will take him. I dont know where you are based but we stuck to the big ones like the Barbican and South Bank, there we were able to see many Bands without any hassles. When our daughter reached 14 she accompanied us to the Jazz cafe, Ronnie Scotts, 100 club and the like. Just hang in there.
And would you believe it, promoters (and musicians) agonise about the ever-growing grey audiences! This is England: children are a nuisance, by definition. I don't recall attending a live jazz gig, or indeed any music gig, in France, Germany or Austria when there haven't been some children (accompanied by adults, of course) present. It simply isn't an issue in mainland Europe.
It's even worse in Scotland. For economic reasons, almost all of the music venues that promote what I would characterize as “socially interactive/responsive” improvised musics such as jazz and folk are licensed premises. Unless a venue has a young persons' license (which is normally accompanied by requirements that food is served, that the young persons are only permitted to enter parts of the venue, and may be present only during limited hours) under-18s simply cannot be admitted legally. So youngsters become accustomed to hearing live music only in a sterile concert setting (or perhaps being busked on the street). It simply is not part of their lives as it was for earlier generations.
For the record Colin's band will be at the 606 Club in Chelsea on the 22nd May and children are quite welcome (long way to come from Leeds I know). In fact we specifially promote our Sunday lunch gigs as “family days” and have for some years actively been encouraging parents to bring their children, who are frequently as young as 5 or 6 (not including the babies!). Seems crazy to me not to be encouraging children to go to live venues. Our experience, which these days is extensive, is that the supposed “disruption” that children are supposed to cause is a myth and extremely rare. For the younger ones this is usually the first time they have seen live music performed and 90% are generally completely engrossed by it all. The older (11+) children are often there because they've specifically asked (nagged!) their parents to take them. As Ivor points out in mainland Europe this is just not an issue….
Regarding Blue Touch Paper's performance at The Wardrobe in Leeds on Monday 21st May: On the 25th April a parent asked us about the venues' age policy for our concert. The following day we informed the father that the policy was 14+. The subsequent day (27th) the venue told us they were able to change the policy for our event. We are pleased the matter was resolved quickly and we are delighted that under 14's are allowed as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
Blue Touch Paper.