From Lewis Capaldi comes a new initiative to put anxious gig-goers at ease, using everything from gig buddies to safe spaces.
Last year, as Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi announced his 2020 UK Tour, he also launched an initiative to make his shows more accessible to fans who suffer from anxiety. The project, entitled LiveLive, means 50p from each ticket sale goes towards a dedicated support email address for fans to contact before the show, and a team who are trained and qualified in assisting with panic, anxiety, and other concerns of gig-goers. According to information on ticket site Live Nation, the key components of Capaldi’s initiative are; a designated safe space for fans to take time out, a buddy system for travelling to and enjoying the show safely, a helpline for before, during and after the show, and a help desk for information about the initiative and mental health. The scheme was implemented across his arena tour, including his shows at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. When I heard about this on the radio, my first thought was, “Why isn’t this available at all events?”
When I was 14, I went to see Troye Sivan at the QMU. Before he had even stepped on stage, I was outside the venue, alone, having a panic attack, after fainting and being lifted over the front barrier. I’ve had to leave concerts at the O2 Academy, Broadcast, SWG3, and many other venues. I’ve stood outside these venues and been physically sick from anxiety, as my arms shake and my breathing won’t slow. Only having to go and sit down at the back of King Tuts once at Maisie Peters’ gig last April was a win for me. As someone who loves music, and who has played gigs of their own, it’s difficult for me saying no whenever my friends are buying gig tickets. It’s difficult weighing up my love for a musician versus my fear of the crowd, the possibility of fainting, the embarrassment of panicking. I’ve taken a massive step back from something I love because my anxiety makes it seem impossible to make it through a performance without feeling defeated, ridiculous and alone.
I can’t say I’m Lewis Capaldi’s biggest fan. I do enjoy his songs, but living across the road from a pub where I hear a rendition “Someone You Loved” on karaoke at least three times a week makes the song lose some of its appeal. And while I applaud his ability to market himself, the “Scottish Beyonce” thing has never really struck a chord with me. That being said, this was the first time I’d seen something from him which seemed more genuine. He founded this initiative because he knows what it’s like to have your mental health affect something you are passionate about. Capaldi has stated that anxiety has affected his work, such as when he had to end his set early when supporting Bastille after having a panic attack on stage. Capaldi has made it clear he understands how anxiety can affect other people’s ability to do things they’d like to, such as attend his shows. He has stated, “This is my attempt at helping make these shows enjoyable for as many of those people who have been supporting this journey for me.” In and of itself, the singer publicly acknowledging his own struggles with anxiety is a great thing to see, especially considering the mental health crisis amongst men in the UK. Reducing stigma is a key component in preventing this crisis, and voices like Capaldi’s can make a real difference in normalising mental health struggles. Lewis Capaldi is taking this a step further and putting an initiative into action, showing he understands how these practical changes could make anxiety suffers feel able to access gigs. Not only is it encouraging to see this empathy from someone who has power to make changes, but the idea that this scheme could be implemented more widely is very exciting for people like myself. Having a support system in place if a panic attack were to occur would make me feel able to go and enjoy live music again without feeling overwhelmed by my anxious thoughts or feelings.
Lewis Capaldi has founded a groundbreaking initiative which could help a lot of people to feel less limited by their struggles with mental health. Often the idea that I wouldn’t know what to do or would be alone if I was to have a panic attack, is what produces more anxiety around the idea of going to an event. I know I’d feel a lot more comfortable attending a gig if this idea had been put into practice. Capaldi’s attitude to addressing mental health issues is admirable, in both acknowledging his own struggles and producing this scheme to make a difference to others. It’s clear to me this is something that needs to be enacted more widely, to make gigs considerably more accessible and allow people with mental health issues to feel supported and able to enjoy live music.