Over the last few months there’s been a great deal of local talk about how realistic it is to deliver original live music events in Ayrshire.
Much of it has been less than positive.
It would be easy to dismiss the naysayer contingent as glass half empty miserablists, but are they really prophets of doom, or merely individuals calmly assessing the landscape and making an honest appraisal?
As usual the truth may lie somewhere between the polar opposites.
If anyone was to lay claim to Ayrshire being bereft of talent or having an audience for it, then that would be a blatant lie, but equally would it be true to say that the area has enough music fans to support anything other than small club sized gigs?
Of course some may point at the sold out Kasabian show in the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock as an example of healthy support for live music in Ayrshire, but does that really hold up to much scrutiny.
This is a band with huge UK wide success, a band who are headlining this years Glastonbury festival, and one who are playing three Scottish venues that are a fraction of the size that they normally would as they want to road test the material from their new album.
The event is as far removed from the norm as we could consider.
I would even question how many tickets were sold to locals?
(Check Gumtree and the like to see how many non-Ayrshire residents are selling tickets)
And even if a great deal were purchased by locals could we then maybe ask ourselves how many of those who did secure a ticket will be attending anything else all year?
Are they the type who seek out new music to listen to, or do they lean more to going to see the big acts in the big venues with their gig going calendar marked off with Hydro and SECC events and an appearance at T in the Park thrown in to pad it out?
In short do they lay down safe, but expensive bets, when considering what entertainment options are out there for them to indulge in?
Basically I am saying Kasabian is an anomaly.
The success of their show says nothing about Ayrshire and everything about the bands pull.
Similarly the recent gigs by The Darkness, Glasvegas and Enter Shikari can’t really be put forward as examples of Ayrshire providing a ready made pool of music fans that can be dipped into either, as all three acts have a pull that extends far beyond the ‘shire itself.
So if we exclude these events then what are we left with?
Would it be fair to state that in general what the Ayrshire public want is karaoke nights, tribute and cover bands playing, and maybe going to see a mate play for a couple of quid in a bar?
Or is that a harsh take on it?
None of this is to say that locally we have no music fans, no one who is willing to take a leap of faith and see what is on offer.
Of course we do.
It’s more to do with asking if we have enough to support anything larger than an event in a club that can hold a couple of hundred.
The answer will probably be provided in a few weeks when the annual Dirty Weekender festival winds down and the organisers consider how much of an artistic and financial success it has been.
The event in its totality already has a rather large mountain to climb.
Apart from the issues mentioned when asking if we have a large enough music fan base to dip into, there has been a run of obstacles to success thrown up that have been beyond the control of MFM who are promoting the event.
Shortly after they announced the dates, and started drip feeding the line up to the public, it was announced that Radio One would be having a three day event on the same weekend in
everyone from Kate Perry to Kings of Leon.
For a local promoter that is a nightmare announcement, and the thought that the competition couldn’t get any worse must have crossed their minds.
But then it did.
The Kasabian show was announced with their performance being days before the Dirty Weekender kicking off, and then tickets for Prince went on sale for a show in
Glasgow the night before the festival.
So in one week what we have is Kasabian followed by Prince and then at the same time as the Dirty Weekender pretty much any chart topper of the last five years playing.
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It’s a situation that could be described as a David fighting Goliath one, but to be more accurate it’s more like a David forgetting his slingshot and bumping into ten Goliaths who have been drinking all day and fancy a game of football with his head.
The odds are certainly stacked up against the Dirty Weekender, but there is another angle that people in Ayrshire should consider here.
That angle is that if the Dirty Weekender suffers a devastating blow with people failing to provide enough support then it could be the death knell for events of this stature in Ayrshire.
It’s been a long and always uphill trial for MFM to get from its humble roots to where it is now, and all that work hangs in the balance.
Those of us who live in Ayrshire may be about to lose something far more than just a weekend of live music here.
If it goes then so does the 2015 event, and with that hammer blow it will stand as an warning that may put off others trying to make a positive change to.
Do we want that?
I don’t, but I’m bracing myself for not getting what I want.
Only the support of the people of Ayrshire can really turn this around.
I think it’s worth making the effort, if only to secure a future for live music in Ayrshire, but the reality is that it is down to you.
Even if Kasabian, Prince or Radio One weekend tickets have been secured it is worth trying to get to something so that we can all be part of sticking one in the eye of Goliath.