When major music artists announce their UK headline tours we are accustomed to seeing Lincolnshire being missed off the circuit and are forced to weigh up alternatives to see our favourite stars. What needs to be done though to attract the biggest and best live music acts to our great county?
Many Lincolnshire music fans waited with bated breath for the announcement of Ed Sheeran’s latest 20-date UK tour, only to be disappointed to find out none of the shows would be in Lincolnshire.
Similarly, X Factor winners Little Mix announced a tour taking in Durham Cricket Ground and Newmarket Racecourse, but you’ve guessed it, nowhere in our county.
Music fans in Lincolnshire are now well used to making the trips across to Rock City or the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, or the various venues in Sheffield to see their favourite bands live.
It wasn’t always this way. Some of our older readers may remember seeing The Beatles playing in Lincoln in 1963, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Cream starring at the Barbeque 67 festival in Spalding, or making the trip to The Great Western Express Festival at Bardney in 1972.
More recently, The Engine Shed in Lincoln has arguably failed to attract acts of the calibre of Tinie Tempah, Florence and the Machine and Two Door Cinema Club, that have famously graced their stage.
The venue, however, has been able to attract some high-end comedians. Jimmy Carr sold out two shows in 2016 while Chris Ramsey and Jon Richardson are set to visit the venue over the next few months.
Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank stadium was transformed from a football stadium into a live music arena for one night only in 2015 when they hosted Madness. Despite 4,000 tickets being sold quite early on, the gig wasn’t a sell out and people could still sing along to Our House and Baggy Trousers by purchasing tickets less than 24 hours before the event.
The Lincolnshire Showground has also tried its luck at hosting live music in the open air in recent years, most famously with Elton John in 2016, and Ocean Colour Scene later the same summer.
Showground chief executive Jayne Southall said that the lack of a big arena or an established music scene meant that many artists looked over Lincolnshire as a place to tour.
She said: “Many other larger cities do already have an established music scene, or have progressed with the building of big arenas over the years, and as a smaller city than others we’re just now beginning to regularly attract big names.
“Venues are working really hard in Lincoln and Lincolnshire to build relationships with promotors and it will continue to pay off over the next few years.”
As Radio 1 announced their Big Weekend would take part in Hull this May, Jayne would welcome hosting such event: “We’ve not had Radio 1 visit us, or had discussions with them about hosting the event here – but of course it’s an event we’d love to see come to Lincoln.
“Less traditional music venues, such as racecourses, football grounds and showgrounds are appearing more regularly in concert tours now due to the facilities.
“Once promotors are confident that they can sell these venues out, they will further increase in popularity.”
Market Rasen Racecourse has also dipped into the live music scene over recent years, attracting Welsh icon Tom Jones in 2015, chart topper Jess Glynne in 2016, and securing Olly Murs to headline Ladies Day on June 2.
The newer Lost Village Festival has also been able to draw in music fans from across the country since its launch in 2015.
Each year the festival has sold out and brought Annie Mac and Fatboy Slim to Norton Disney, where the festival is held.
So, despite the quite clear challenges, Jayne believes that the future is bright for live music in the county.
She said: “We have some fantastic places for concerts in Lincolnshire, and even if we were to build an arena, the same work would still need to be done to get on the radar of promotors, and to convince them there’s a big enough appetite for live music in the county.”
“As a venue, we’re working hard to welcome more music acts to the city and we’ve been in talks with a number of different companies and promotors in recent times.”