The English capital, which is also the biggest urban zone in Europe, presents artists with a range of challenges not seen elsewhere, including fuel emission charges and skyrocketing hotel fees due to the budget-busting Olympic Games and Royal Jubilee.
The former Marillion singer’s band played in London this week – but Fish says they had to go to extremes in order to keep ticket prices down, and the experience means they’ll “seriously consider their options” before returning in the future.
He says on Facebook: “We have to be out of the city before midnight as regulations mean we have to pay £200 to bring the ‘Clown Carrier’ within the M25 perimeter, because of fuel emissions. If we stay past midnight it’s another £200. The carrier has a new engine and is probably more efficient than a lot of other vehicles – but because of its age we take the hit.”
Avoiding the charge, Fish reports, would mean buying a new van for £35,000, or converting the current one for £6000 – but he adds: “No one knows how to convert it, and with rules constantly changing it’s a messy ball of red tape.
“With these regulations the operator can’t afford to operate within London, and can’t even pick up bands arriving at Heathrow. It has really stuffed him for work with most of the bands he tours with.”
The singer adds that hotel prices have become unaffordable as London hosts the Olympics and celebrations for the Queen’s diamond jubilee. “We have to stay out at Junction 4 on the M1 – the hotels we got on offer were between £700 and £2500 for a collection of eight boxes, and didn’t include parking,” he says.
The issues presented by playing in the capital go on top of problems experienced everywhere else, he continues: “It’s getting harder and harder to make tour budgets work as VAT on everything from tickets to fuel to hotels eats away at us. Insurance costs and venues stealing percentages on merchandise cuts into our income.
“The only way to make it work it to increase ticket prices – but I’m fully aware the fan has exactly the same problems as us trying to make ends meet. It’s totally self-defeating.”
Fish continues: “I hope the government start seeing the light soon. If they continue adding to the antis there will be a lot of bands out there seriously struggling to keep working as professional musicians.”
-Classic Rock Magazine