FEATURE: The LiveLive Revolution: Lewis Capaldi’s Anxiety-Coping Initiative and Creating a Calmer Environment at Gigs




The LiveLive Revolution


IN THIS PHOTO: Lewis Capaldi/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

Lewis Capaldi’s Anxiety-Coping Initiative and Creating a Calmer Environment at Gigs


I am not the only one who avoids big gigs because...

IMAGE CREDIT: @LewisCapaldi

there is this unnerving sense of discomfort and crowding. I am okay around most people but, when faced with big crowds and a busy environment, things can get a bit tense. It can be awkward for people who love live music to come to big venues and spaces where there are a lot of people. When you have anxiety, such as I do, then you become less sociable and miss out on quite a lot. Even a smaller gig can be a bit too much and there is that feeling that, more often than not, you have to avoid going out. Venues are getting better at accommodating people but there is still a long way to go. Access for disabled people is increasing but there is still a feeling that they are being overlooked. I do hope that all venues make sure they do not restrict disabled access and allowances are made. Many people do not realise that, for those who suffer mental illness, things can be pretty bad too – even if people cannot see it. Lewis Capaldi has introduced a scheme to help his fans who suffer from anxiety. Some have been saying that this scheme cannot work in practice and, up until now, we have been fine without measured aimed at reducing anxiety. In this article from The Guardian they look at what Capaldi is doing and how it will help fans:

The musician Lewis Capaldi has announced that he is to provide provisions for fans at risk of anxiety and panic attacks on his upcoming UK arena tour. Capaldi, whose single Someone You Loved has been No 1 for seven weeks, is adding a compulsory 50p charge to his ticket prices to cover the costs of a scheme he has named LiveLive.

PHOTO CREDIT: @aaronpaulos/Unsplash  

Things will start off small but, in time, there is a hope that other artists can adopt a similar approach to Lewis Capaldi. This LiveLive scheme, as the article continues, has a number of different components:

Fans will be able to access support from a qualified team at each venue before and during Capaldi’s arena shows, which take place in 2020. There will also be designated help points for anyone struggling emotionally, an “escape room” for anyone who needs time out, and a gig buddy system for fans travelling alone.

He said in a statement that he is often contacted by fans who wish to see him live, but feel they can’t because of potential difficulties with anxiety or panic attacks. He wanted to implement measures that allowed them to feel welcome. “I hate to feel that anyone’s anxiety is making them miss out on anything they want to do.”

Capaldi’s manager, Ryan Walter, told the Guardian that they had partnered with a company called Music & You that specialises in helping people working in music and the live environment. “We went through everything we as fans might want when thinking about attending a show, drawing from our own experiences – I’ve not gone to plenty of gigs both as a fan and on a professional level because of my anxiety.”

LiveLive is thought to be the first such initiative on a tour of this scale. Capaldi told the BBC: “I think with a little bit of success we could make it a more widespread thing, to be able to offer this to everyone at all gigs.”


PHOTO CREDIT: @ernest_brillo/Unsplash  

Jacob Adams is head of research and campaigns at Attitude Is Everything, a charity that campaigns for improving deaf and disabled people’s access to live music. He told the Guardian that Capaldi’s initiative “demonstrates the ability artists have to directly influence the inclusivity of their shows, and welcome their entire audience to see them perform live. This is an important development in turning attention to the mental health of live music audiences, at a time when that of artists is rightly gaining increasing exposure”.

I have read some comments and feedback that is a bit sneering and seems to take the approach that, if people are anxious then they should not go to gigs. Mental-illness is being made more visible by artists and not something that should be dismissed. The last big gig I went to was at London’s 02 to see Queens of the Stone Age in 2017. I was okay to start with but, the more animated the crowd became, the higher my levels of anxiety became. I managed to stay for almost the entire concert but had to leave early. It is daunting being in venues where there are so many people and I agree it is difficult accommodating everyone and making sure they are okay. I hope greater movement happens regarding considering disabled gig-goers but I know so many people who suffer from anxiety and do not feel good going to gigs because of the stress.

We often go to gigs and do not really get an idea of what the space will look like and whether it will be quite intimidating. Gigs are very important and can be really exciting. Those who have anxiety and other psychological problems are never sure what they are in for and, if they avoid gigs, this adds to a feeling of isolation and loneliness. I am not suggesting that every venue has a sort of visual guided tour and advice lines but, until LiveLive can be rolled out by other artists, I think more needs to be done. Only recently have a lot of venues started to acknowledge disabled fans and it is positive seeing things move in the right direction. The fact the music industry is recognising mental-health problems and making allowances means that, hopefully, a lot of other artists will follow Capaldi. It does mean bringing more people into venues and providing support workers which, inevitably, costs a lot and will be a big commitment. For the cynics who say that this is too extreme and unfeasible, consider all the artists playing around the world and how many fans are avoiding attending because they are too nervous and anxious. Music should be for everyone and the live experience is one of the most amazing things possible. To be together with fellow music lovers and in that atmosphere is electric and hugely primal.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @mclaren1/Unsplash

For some, it can be quite intimidating going to gigs and it is a shame to see so many miss out. Big props to Lewis Capaldi and what he is doing right now. He will help so many people and make the gig-going experience much easier and more pleasant. It is not to say that the LiveLive movement will cure anxiety but if we see this supportive and open space where fans can go without the fear of panic attacks and needless stress, then that is a really good thing. I do hope that many others take interest and, in years to come, most gigging artists either adopt LiveLive or they have something similar going on. I am not drawing a line between venues closing and anxious fans not attending but I do feel there are a lot of people at home reticent regarding attending gigs. Anxiety levels are on the rise and I do think we need to have conversations regarding those with mental-health problems. Music is this wonderful thing that unites us and, for those who cannot help the way they feel, it is heart-breaking seeing them miss out. It will be great to see this change and the fact more fans will attend Capaldi’s gig means a lot to him, clearly. Credit to him and, as I say, I do hope this is the start of something bigger. Anything we can do to recognise mental illness and ensure venues are a safe and calm (to an extent) environment is positive. Many people are getting excited about LiveLive and I, for one, welcome this endeavour that will make a huge difference in…


PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Louise Bennett

MANY people’s lives.