Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MPs do the right thing; predicted cold snap fails to materialise in hell

Since last year the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee have been hearing evidence about the 2003 Licensing Act, about Form 696, and about how bureaucracy has come to shackle live music, clubs and even circuses. Astonishingly, the cross-party Committee of MPs has done the right thing, and called on the government to scrap 696 and re-liberalise small-scale music events. It’s a rare fillip for the image of MPs in these dark times: evidence of a switched-on, liberal parliamentary democracy, heeding popular feeling (the anti-696 petition), common sense (unlicensed live music does not result in orgies of violence), and expert witnesses (like Feargal Sharkey of UK Music, who I also interviewed for the Guardian piece on 696 and black music).

Politicians in acting-for-the-public-good SHOCKA. It does happen. Full story on The Guardian Music Blog.

Subsequently the Met Police have gone on the defensive, claiming 696 has helped reduce violent crime in this BBC interview:

"A co-ordinated effort, and 696 assisting the process of identifying potential gang conflict, is undoubtedly contributing towards that reduction of shooting incidents in licensed premises."

How 696 assists with identifying potential gang conflict is not made at all clear. The viability of the Met's stats are also unclear, with no proof of causality, and especially given they've been summoned specifically in response to criticism. What is increasingly clear is that the often-rumoured Police blacklist of artists - musicians whose names will get a rave shut down immediately - must exist. UK Music are trying to find out more about this issue, do get in touch with them if you know more.

Hardcore continuum debate: Aftermathematics

Just a quick update to say the Hardcore Continuum discussion at UeL last month was good fun (not least because of the opportunity to 'drive' the DLR, above) - thanks to everyone who came. A few people have done write-ups or responses, including Alex Williams, Martin Clark, Melissa Bradshaw and Simon Reynolds, who I guess has been listening to tapes of the debate - I’m still not clear if mp3s are being made public or not, I've been told different things at different times.

I wrote this follow-up on Lower End Spasm, which was basically a long-winded way of saying ‘okay, this has been fun, I want to get back to enjoying music again now’. In Melissa Bradshaw's case, this mentality led her to flee to a socaerobics class half-way through the debate (see the link above). Alex Bok Bok pretty much ran home to get on with making beats. Friends in the audience who I spoke to afterwards (among their number promoters, DJs, producers, musicologists, bloggers, and broadsheet journalists, fwiw) responded in the same vein: "okay, that was that. Can we go raving now?" A bit of theory is indeed the spice of life, but too much of it and you end up choking.