Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson: 2020 has been a ‘s****y’ year for music industry

Lizzie Edmonds
·3-min read
<p>Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson fears live crew and venues will struggle to survive</p> (Getty Images)

Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson fears live crew and venues will struggle to survive

(Getty Images)

Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson has said 2020 has been a “s****y” year for live performance, admitting crews and small venues now face a “tough” future.

The singer, 42, said he worried there would be “fewer opportunities” for young artists to make it in the music business post-pandemic, as many venues in London face an uncertain future.

He also said freelance crew he knew had been forced to take on other work after almost all live performances in 2020 were cancelled.

Wilson, who has been part of the Mercury Prize-nominated band since 2000, said: “It is really s****y. When we go on tour, there isn’t just five of us - there are 25 of us. It has been tough on them. I know people who have taken on other jobs. I feel a bit bad talking about it from my position where I have done alright, but for anyone in the music industry it always starts as a hobby. And then there comes a point where you have to put your whole focus into it.”

<p>The Waiting Room, where Stormzy - pictured - has played is among the venues at risk</p>Getty Images

The Waiting Room, where Stormzy - pictured - has played is among the venues at risk

Getty Images

He added: “I just worry there will be fewer opportunities for people to do that in the future. The small venues as well, they are always where you see change and something new. We need that.”

The Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund has helped keep many small venues afloat, but a number did not benefit.

Among the venues facing collapse are Islington’s The Lexington, where Wolf Alice and Hot Chip have played; Spiritual Bar in Chalk Farm, where Michael Kiwanuka has performed; The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington, which has hosted Tyler The Creator, Jamie xx, Stormzy and Dave; and Windmill Brixton, where KT Tunstall and Rag’n’Bone Man have been on the bill.

Wilson - who was also a judge on singing competition The Voice - said the pandemic had re-ignited his love of live performance, adding its absence from his life made him “crave” it.

“I was getting to the point where I was thinking of taking a break,” he said. “But if there has been any silver lining, it is that I have craved it, I have craved touring and being on stage. I don’t want to get used to being at home all the time.”

Wilson was speaking ahead of the Kaiser Chiefs’s next live-streamed gig from O2 Academy Brixton on 28 November. The concert will use virtual reality technology MelodyVR to bring the concert to the homes of people around the country.

The musician said he was nervous ahead of the performance.

“It is a weird thing. I am not 100 per cent sure what it is going to be like to be honest, and that is a nice thing to be able to say after 16 years in this business. It is nice when new things come along. I am also not very good at chatting between songs. So I am a bit nervous about that.”

He predicted live streaming gigs would be a feature of upcoming tours. “I think this kind of technology is very cool. I think it will be integral to the way we tour in the future. It is a way of bringing music to people who perhaps couldn’t get to us before. And that can only be a good thing.”

Kaiser Chiefs will perform at O2 Academy Brixton on 28 November, exclusively on MelodyVR, ticketmaster.co.uk, then at the Nordoff Robbins Christmas Carol Service on 15 December, carols.nordoff-robbins.org.uk

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