Pet Shop Boys and KT Tunstall to play shows to help grassroots music venues

Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys performs on stage for the Teenage Cancer Trust annual concert series at the Royal Albert Ha
Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys performs on stage for the Teenage Cancer Trust annual concert series at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Pet Shop Boys, KT Tunstall, Russell Watson and Passenger have pledged to play shows to raise money for grassroots music venues at risk of closure.

The gigs are part of the Passport: Back To Our Roots campaign, which raises money through a prize draw for tickets to shows that will take place when social distancing guidelines are relaxed.

The campaign has already raised £75,000 from the first prize draw for entry to concerts by Elbow, Public Service Broadcasting, Everything Everything, The Slow Readers Club and Ash.

Pet Shop Boys will perform at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, Russell Watson at Manchester’s Stoller Hall, Passenger at Brighton’s Komedia and KT Tunstall will be playing at two venues – Windmill Brixton and PJ Molloys in Dunfermline.

The shows will take place on dates to be confirmed and entry to the prize draw is offered in exchange for a £5 minimum donation to the campaign.

Sally Cook, co-founder of Passport: Back To Our Roots, said: “We’re blown away by the incredible response to the first block of fundraisers, and want to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated, and to every artist who pledged to play a grassroots venue show.

“The outpouring of support (we read all the comments!) just proves how important grassroots venues are to the UK’s music fans.

“£75,000 is an amazing start and will help make a real difference to the venues involved and the sector as a whole, but we’re not stopping there. We are really excited to be announcing this new group of artists this week.”

Tunstall added: “Without grassroots music venues, there are no big acts. It’s as simple as that.

“The incredible eco-system of small venues exists, in the vast majority of cases, as labours of love.

“Constantly up against rapidly rising business rates and big developer interests, these essential community hubs are kept alive by often overworked owners and staff with an unending passion for music and the music lovers and musicians they serve.”

Classical singer Watson, who was born in Salford, said: “Grassroots venues were crucial in the development of my career.

“I spent almost nine years in the working men’s clubs in the North West of England before my touring career as a recording artist.

“It’s heart-breaking to see so many of these venues – which are the fabric of our communities, where people gather to drink, procrastinate and be entertained – under such huge financial strain.

“Entertainment is essential to the UK. It’s fundamentally crucial in driving a large part of our nation’s economy but also in the employment of hundreds of thousands of incredibly talented people – from lighting engineers to prima donnas.

“This is a time for us all to reflect on just what the entertainment industry means to us and to keep it alive during these most unprecedented times.”

The prize draw will run for three weeks from September 14 until October 5.

Two further artists will be announced on BBC Radio 6 Music during the station’s State Of Independents Day on September 10.

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