It would be typical if Bristol was to finally build its own arena (stop sniggering at the back) just at the time when the baby boomer superstars are retiring and, I’m afraid, dying. In the last year alone, we learned that Elton John is about to start a three year – a three fucking year – farewell tour, Neil Diamond has stopped touring because of Parkinsons and Rush have retired too. That’s the tip of a very big iceberg.
Think of all the other big stars. Many are either ancient or merely very old. There is no replacement Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Neil Young waiting in the wings. 2017 brought us a catastrophic series of terrible deaths in rock. This will soon become the norm, not an exceptional sad year.
In Bristol, this probably doesn’t matter because no one seriously believes the arena will ever be built. The pre mayor councils never convinced anyone they had either the ambition or the money to build it. So the two brand new totally unnecessary mayors, Ferguson and Rees, have talked a good game but very little has changed.
We live in a relatively wealthy city. However, there are major pockets of poverty and social disadvantage. Also, we have a social care crisis. All this will need funding from a budget that, thanks to David Cameron and Theresa May’s austerity, has dwindled year on year. Whilst plenty of people are desperate to see Strictly and the X Factor live in Bristol, I am not sure everyone will put this as their priority above ensuring senior citizens get the care they need, deserve and, through their taxes and NI, have paid in for.
Knowing us, we will build it and there will be no superstars left. Everyone will be 80 and the Bristol Arena will be hosting TV spin offs and dog shows. And we’ll all wonder what the fuck that was all for?
It is an embarrassment that we do not have a Bristol Arena. It doesn’t much affect me because I mostly hate arena gigs and most of the acts I like don’t play arenas. I’d go so far as to say, I could hardly care less. But everyone is not me and for some people not having to travel to, say Birmingham, to see Strictly Live and the X Factor may be a dream come true. Doubtless there are plenty more people keen to see Simon Cowell and Craig Revel-Horwood than someone like Public Service Broadcasting who I saw at our small hall Colston Hall last year.
From this summer until 2020, the biggest indoor venue will probably be the ghastly O2 on Frogmore Street, still an ex cinema with the seats removed because the Colston Hall is at last being brought into the 21st century. Judging from the acts coming to this country at the moment, I am not missing much.