Editorial : Wheelchair users attending gigs – Is it time for venues to move with the times?

It’s June 2017, Reverend and the Makers have just announced their Death of a King tour dates. The Garage at Glasgow, Electric Ballroom in Camden, o2 Academy in Sheffield and Manchester Academy.

I’ve heard Electric Ballroom is good for us wheelies, but it’s on a Wednesday night, me mate that I’m going with will have work in the morning. Manchester academy is on the 4th November, I’ve got a pool tournament in Aylesbury. Last one of the season, I can’t miss it, there’s a slim chance I could finish UK Challenge Cup no.1. Back to Sheffield Academy it is then.

On the plus side I know the drill by now. Order your ticket online, tell em I’m in a wheelchair job done, easy yeah? No! The phone never gets answered when you ring them, it’s not a big deal though. I could do with a run out to Sheff. Angie, my PA as had to put up with me being reyt moody, I’ve had lass trouble.

I’m not really looking forward to it, as much as I should be. There’s a load of people I know going, most have been to my house gigs. We have a few pints in’t Bankers Draft, go down to academy, I tell me mates I’ll see them in a bit coz now we’re gonna be separated.

I’ve got to sit on this platform, I don’t know what its original use was but there’s no room on here, there’s me and Ange this lass who’s in a wheelchair and for some reason her boyfriend’s getting hassle from security.

You can’t dance or owt on this platform, you’ve just got to sit and watch. I nip to gents in between JB Barrington and Rev coming on, I see Reece, me mate while I’m in there “Heyup Matt where ya sat fella”. “I’m reyt at back behind sound desk mate, I’d say come up but they won’t let you on there, it’s shit mate I wanna be with the folk I’ve come with ya know”.

Anyway I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen Reverend and the Makers since I first saw them support some little band called Arctic Monkeys in early 2006 and tonight was their best.

I don’t want people to think I’m picking on the Sheffield o2, it’s nationwide. Surely there’s a solution to the separation thing. I’m no health and safety expert, I’m a fella who enjoys going to gigs, but it pisses me off that I can’t stay with me mates. Leeds Stylus have got it right, but that’s a uni so they’re bound to have it sorted.

I’d love to meet with venues and say right, it’s great that I can get in to see my favourite bands, between us lets make it a better experience that goes beyond just access. How can we make it so it’s safe for everyone without people with disabilities getting cut off from everyone else? If we could get together over a cuppa I’m pretty sure we’d find a solution.