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Dutch band Pip Blom perform to 12 people at Ramsgate Music Hall in venue's first socially distanced show


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Live music fans got a taste of what a socially-distanced crowd would look like at a venue in Thanet , as the industry continues to struggle in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramsgate Music Hall hosted the Dutch band Pip Blom, who had previously spent a fortnight isolating at Big Jelly Studios in Chapel Road to record their new album.

The hall could only accommodate a maximum of 12 people in the crowd
The hall could only accommodate a maximum of 12 people in the crowd

Under social distancing guidelines just 12 people were able to attend, and were allocated seating by staff for the duration of the gig.

Normal circumstances would see the venue regularly packed out to its 130-person capacity.

The band also offered fans to pay for a live stream of the performance on Monday, with more than a hundred people logging in to check out the energetic set.

André Dack, manager of the venue, said it was great to be able to put on a show again after months of being unable to.

He said: "Pip Blom were already in Ramsgate recording their new record, and we spoke to them and said 'you're here for three weeks and we're desperate to do a show.'

"They were on board fully because they've already done a few socially distanced shows back in Holland.

"It was super nice of them to agree to this because it was a show that everyone lost money on - they lost money, we lost money.

"But we just all wanted to do a show to get people excited about live music again, and to get us back into some sense of normality."

The 12 attendees were seated inside the venue and were only allowed to get out of their seats to go to the toilet.

The upstairs bar, usually a hive of activity and chatter pre and post-gig, was vacant, with André taking drinks orders and bringing them downstairs to customers.

The venue hosted bands from across the world prior to the pandemic
The venue hosted bands from across the world prior to the pandemic

The venue manager said: "No one felt comfortable before or after the show - they knew they had to leave for the 10pm curfew, so it wasn't like they could stick around and chat to the band, which is one of the best things about the Ramsgate Music Hall.

"It can't become the new normal but for now obviously it's nice to be back in any capacity.

"It's just not viable financially - serious money was lost to put on that show. We probably shouldn't have done it but we wanted to do it once at least just to show we are willing to come back.

"We're desperate, and people are desperate to see live music."

This is the first gig André has been able to put on since March when the national lockdown was put into place.

The Bristol band IDLES playing at the venue two years ago
The Bristol band IDLES playing at the venue two years ago

As it becomes increasingly difficult to see a future where the live industry is able to get on it's feet once again, the lifelong music fan is hoping to be awarded funding through the government's Cultural Recovery Fund.

The scheme was announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in August , and will see £1.5bn pumped into the arts industry to help weather the damaging effects of the pandemic.

André finds out on Monday if his application for the Ramsgate Music Hall has been successful, but is worried the future for the venue looks bleak without it.

He said: "It's been an agonising wait given that it's been months now since I even submitted the application.

"Not to sound too dramatic but almost everything does ride on this.

"If we get it then we will survive until next spring, and we could maybe do a few socially-distanced streaming shows in the process."

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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