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Elton John warns upcoming artists face huge challenges in post-Brexit EU tours

'The heartbeat and future of our vibrant industry face finding themselves stranded in Dover through no fault of their own"'

By Nick Reilly

Elton John performs live as he resumes his Farewell Yellow Brick Road world tour
Elton John. (Picture: Ben Gibson/Rocket Entertainment)

Elton John has warned that upcoming UK artists risk being stranded in Dover” if ongoing problems surrounding touring the EU are not sorted.

The music icon, who has been previously vocal on the issue, delivered a fresh statement to an inquiry of cross-party MPs and other figures who are urging the government to  “tear down the barriers” of costs and red tape that has arisen in touring since Brexit took place.

While the government has said it is supporting musicians to negotiate the post-Brexit changes, a new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music (APPG on Music) urges more action.

The group of more than 100 MPs and peers, is now calling for a “touring tsar” to be appointed to help solve the problems.

They say that bands are being hampered by an inability to use UK trucks for touring, while rules on short-term employment in the EU are proving tricky for crew members.

In a statement, Elton said: “The government has had a golden opportunity to fix the problem while COVID was closing down touring.

While some progress has been made that opportunity has been allowed to slip. The heartbeat and future of our vibrant industry face finding themselves stranded in Dover through no fault of their own.”

Other recommendations include urging the government to work with EU nations on a fresh agreement to cut red tape and costs.

MP Kevin Brennan, the APPG on Music chairman, said: “We have heard evidence from right across the UK music industry about some of the horrendous problems musicians and crew face touring the EU.

Elton John live in Watford
Elton John live in Watford (Picture: Ben Gibson)

It’s over two years since Brexit, yet there is still a mountain of red tape and extra costs that musicians and crew have to deal with before they can play to fans in many EU states…

“Without urgent action there is a very real risk that the talent pipeline on which the UK music industry relies will be badly damaged for years to come.”

Earlier this year, indie band White Lies told Rolling Stone UK how the cancellation of a show in Paris was a result of Brexit and “an appallingly-run government system in the UK”.

The London band were due to kick off their lengthy 2022 European headline tour in the French capital in April, but were forced to pull the gig on the morning of the show after the truck carrying their instruments and equipment was “detained by Brexit legislation leaving England, along with countless other trucks”, as they told fans on social media.

Speaking to Rolling Stone UK as their European tour continued in Frankfurt, drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown explained: “These shows that we’re playing are often the first gigs that people have been to in two or three years now, and it’s an absolute nightmare for people who were looking forward to doing that show and finally seeing music again.

“To have it cancelled – through really no fault of their own and no fault of our own, either – is just [a result of], in my opinion, an appallingly run government system in the UK. I’m sure it’s not what the people who voted for Brexit imagined it would be.” 

The government is yet to respond to the latest report.