This is prompted by a conversation I had with Henry Flury from The Butcher Babies.
He seemed a little surprised when I thanked him for playing in Leeds. That surprise turned to shock when I told him we were starved of decent bands coming and playing in the city. He quite rightly believed that Leeds had a strong alternative musical tradition. It does. The Who’s seminal live album, Live At Leeds, was recorded at Leeds University. Sections of Motörhead‘s No Sleep Til Hammersmith were allegedly recorded in Leeds. The Goth scene had it’s genesis in Leeds. Andrew Eldritch is an alumnus of Leeds University. The Cult are from Bradford, so have strong ties with Leeds. Every year, the University hosts the Damnation Festival. Personally, I’ve never been to a show in Leeds that wasn’t well attended. So the demand is there.
So here’s the question: Why do so few Metal bands play in Leeds?
The answer lies firmly in the venues and the promoters in the city. The Cockpit, The O2 Academy, the new Arena, TJ Woodhouse, The Irish Centre, both the Universities, New Roscoe’s, Carpe Diem… all of these could very easily host nights for Rock and Metal bands, and fill them very easily. But they don’t. Why? Because they’re not booking them. Why not? The booking agents must have above a bit to do with it, seeing as it’s their job to book tours.
So, people of West Yorkshire, if we want more bands playing more often, we need to let the booking agents know that we’re here. When a tour is announced, we should be asking why there is no date in Leeds, Huddersfield, Wakefield or Bradford, since there is definitely a call for it. We also need to be charging the promoters with doing their jobs correctly, and getting out and PROMOTING the show. Same goes for the bands at the lower end of the scale – promote your shows out in the real world, and not just on Facebook. Get into the Universities, alternative shops and Rock pubs (they do exist!) and hand out posters and flyers. We need to show the agents and promoters that it’s worth playing in Leeds.
Saying “if we build it, they will come” is not enough. They don’t come. You have to let them know it’s there, and give them a reason to come.