In a long column published on Sunday February 7, 2021 in the GuardianElton John is alarmed at the new red tape and the additional costs Brexit entails for British musicians wishing to tour Europe.
“Due to Brexit, British musicians who want to play in Europe will now need visas, work permits and equipment books (instruments, etc Editor’s note) for each country crossed. It’s an administrative nightmare that dramatically increases the cost of setting up a European tour“writes Elton John, who has always been a vocal advocate for Brexit.
The star singer doesn’t care about his own case. “I am in a very privileged position“, he insists,”my tours can absorb that extra cost and people take care of the administrative stuff for me.“
Elton John, whose column is not lacking in humor – he remembers having taken a hotdog in the face during one of his first solo concerts in Paris, opening for Sergio Mendes – is worried about young groups who will not have the chance to rub shoulders on tour with other cultures, other languages, all things he judges “vital” because they “make us better musicians“.
He also recalls that being one of the country’s main cultural exports, music “brought in 5.8 billion pounds (6.6 billion euros) to the UK economy in 2019 “. Which did not prevent him from being “left out in negotiations, unlike other industries. Some professions are still authorized to travel on business without the need for a visa. But not the musicians “, he emphasizes.
“SEither Brexit negotiators didn’t care about musicians, either they didn’t think of them or they weren’t prepared enough. They fucked up. Now it is up to the British government to fix the problem: they must renegotiate“writes Elton John.
The musician also suggests taking advantage of the obligatory Covid break to create an infrastructure, funded in part by the music industry, with lawyers and accountants, which would help musicians navigate the issues created by Brexit . Because, he knows, even if he were successful, renegotiating would take time.
On Monday February 8, Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood, also published a column in the Guardian calling on the UK government to renegotiate over what he sees as a “tragedy of deferred dreams“for musicians, whether rock, pop or classical. He tells about the freedom of movement that allowed him so many epiphanies, like the time he had”hopped in a Eurostar“in 2018 to meet on stage with the young Tamino three nights in a row at the Ancienne Belgique (Brussels).
He also drew attention to the fact that according to the new rules, trucks containing touring material from Great Britain will now only be entitled to two stops in Europe before being forced to return home. . Another dark cloud on the horizon for English tours. At this idea, “my heart sinks“writes Greenwood.