Lewis Capaldi arena tour pledges help for fans with anxiety

The musician Lewis Capaldi has announced that he is to provide provisions for fans at risk of anxiety and panic attacks on his upcoming UK arena tour. Capaldi, whose single Someone You Loved has been No 1 for seven weeks, is adding a compulsory 50p charge to his ticket prices to cover the costs of a scheme he has named LiveLive.

Fans will be able to access support from a qualified team at each venue before and during Capaldi’s arena shows, which take place in 2020. There will also be designated help points for anyone struggling emotionally, an “escape room” for anyone who needs time out, and a gig buddy system for fans travelling alone.

Capaldi has also established an email address where fans can contact a qualified support officer to discuss their concerns in advance of one of his concerts, and arrange to be accompanied into the venue if they require.

He said in a statement that he is often contacted by fans who wish to see him live, but feel they can’t because of potential difficulties with anxiety or panic attacks. He wanted to implement measures that allowed them to feel welcome. “I hate to feel that anyone’s anxiety is making them miss out on anything they want to do.”

Capaldi’s manager, Ryan Walter, told the Guardian that they had partnered with a company called Music & You that specialises in helping people working in music and the live environment. “We went through everything we as fans might want when thinking about attending a show, drawing from our own experiences – I’ve not gone to plenty of gigs both as a fan and on a professional level because of my anxiety.”

Arena events are a daunting prospect for many people.

Arena events are a daunting prospect for many people. Photograph: Alamy

Last year, Walter contacted a young woman to tell her that she had won tickets to one of Capaldi’s gigs. She said that she and her boyfriend would be unable to make it because she was experiencing profound anxiety. He contacted her and asked if there was anything he could do to accommodate their needs. “In the end they came down, I met them, got them a Sprite each, found them a seat, had a chat about my own experiences at gigs with anxiety and they had a lovely night. She was so thankful and that started our thought process about potentially being able to help, on a personal level, on a bigger scale.”

Speaking to the Guardian, Mind chief executive Paul Farmer welcomed the initiative and praised Capaldi’s openness about his own mental health. “Large events like pop concerts can be huge fun – but they can also cause stress and anxiety for many people, with loud noises and busy crowds a given.”

Capaldi told the BBC that he has suffered from panic attacks on stage, including one during a support act for Bastille that caused him to stop playing his penultimate song, and tell the crowd what was happening.

LiveLive is thought to be the first such initiative on a tour of this scale. Capaldi told the BBC: “I think with a little bit of success we could make it a more widespread thing, to be able to offer this to everyone at all gigs.”

Jacob Adams is head of research and campaigns at Attitude Is Everything, a charity that campaigns for improving deaf and disabled people’s access to live music. He told the Guardian that Capaldi’s initiative “demonstrates the ability artists have to directly influence the inclusivity of their shows, and welcome their entire audience to see them perform live. This is an important development in turning attention to the mental health of live music audiences, at a time when that of artists is rightly gaining increasing exposure.

“We identify this as a major area for the industry to get to grips with, which is why we will be focussing on audience mental health in the coming year. Building costs into the price of all tickets is one way to provide an additional service involving professionals, and this model will add to the ongoing debate about how innovative forms of inclusion can best become default for major concerts.”

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher told the Guardian that it was a “brilliant idea” that chimed with wider industry concerns. “Changes are being driven across large parts of the live music sector to ensure that our venues are as accessible and as welcoming as possible to all gig goers.”

Watch the video for Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved

Walter said he had heard of similar one-off initiatives at smaller, individual shows, but nothing of this scale. “It’s something I would have loved to have had myself, growing up going to gigs; just knowing there’s someone there you can turn to if you feel you’re in that bad place and want some support away from home. We’re definitely aware we’ve taken on something incredibly important here and we’re going to keep adapting throughout the shows.

“We’d love to be ambitious but we’re also realistic. It’s the first time we’ve tried something like this and we want to make sure we can deliver what we promise with an issue as serious as it is.”

In 2016, the Roundhouse in London started offering “visual stories” on its website, where potential visitors can view photographs and descriptions of the different spaces within the venue. A spokesperson for the venue said: “Visual stories have been an important addition to what we offer audiences to try and remove additional barriers people may face when attending shows. They offer people the chance to see inside the building beforehand in the hope that it can reduce the anxiety someone may feel when going to a new space, to ensure they have the best possible experience at the Roundhouse.”

Walter hoped the LiveLive scheme would prompt other bands and venues to follow suit. “We see this as something we’d love to grow ourselves, and even potentially look to work with other artists to help them either integrate LiveLive into their shows or develop their own. We’re not precious about our name as a brand – for us it’s about creating something that’s recognisable as a mark of care. You’re not just being crammed into a room, you’re there for an experience – and it should be a happy and safe one.”


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