JONATHAN BROCKLEBANK: Oh, to be the Simon Cowell of Glasgow buskers: ‘Sorry, nevertheless it’s a no from me!’

Twenty years in the past I used to be having fun with a short lunchtime stroll after I stumbled on a bunch of buskers who had been actually fairly good. You might inform they’d accomplished some practising.

They had been performing a canopy of the Britney Spears tune Hit Me Child One Extra Time and I favored the best way the bass participant leaned in to harmonise on the singer’s microphone on the refrain. I might see that engaged on stage.

Others appeared to suppose they’d one thing too. Workplace employees, sandwiches in hand, stopped of their tracks to offer this combo on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Avenue a second of their time. The group swelled quickly.

I overlook what number of minutes handed earlier than it dawned on this viewers member that the band he was watching was Travis. Maybe I wanted to listen to their signature hit Why Does it All the time Rain on Me? to make certain.

Suffice it to say I used to be impressed with them lengthy earlier than I twigged who they had been. With apologies to my erstwhile boss, I’ve to report that my lunch break was duly prolonged.

Rock band Travis as soon as took to the streets forward of a promote out present in Glasgow – however most buskers fail to impress passers by

I recall this story now as a result of it’s the final time I bear in mind being so taken with road buskers that they ended up shifting alongside earlier than I did.

After all, they weren’t actually buskers. They performed a sell-out present at Glasgow’s Barrowland that evening.

Within the intervening 20 years there have been tons of extra lunchtime strolls and no fewer road performers craving the eye of passers-by like me.

I don’t say all of them stink, by any means. A veteran electrical guitarist on Argyle Avenue used to make a reasonably good fist of numbers by The Shadows. It was a candy sound to stroll by to.

The occasional Buchanan Avenue songbird can maintain a tune. I favor those who play their very own devices slightly than depend on backing tracks blasting soullessly from an amplifier.

However, in the primary, they serve solely to remind lunchtime strollers why the individuals whose songs the buskers are singing are well-known. Merely, they’re higher.


It’s no accident that Ed Sheeran is a millionaire whereas the chap with just a few cash in a hat is merely a gratuitous contributor to metropolis centre decibel ranges.

Some renditions, I’ve usually thought, border on legal. If one of many best musical injustices in historical past got here on the day the police pulled the plug on The Beatles’ rooftop live performance in 1969, why are reparations not made by pulling the plug on these street-level acts who actually deserve it?

Nicely, it has taken slightly longer than I hoped, however eventually Glasgow Metropolis Council is singing my tune. 

I’m delighted to notice a crackdown on essentially the most turgid and repetitive performers is not going to solely see them being silenced however – within the worst instances – their devices confiscated. Studies might even be despatched the procurator fiscal’s approach.

As a music lover who additionally has a deep appreciation of the sound of silence, I’ve to say that is maybe my favorite by-law ever. 

Certainly, I’m tempted to inquire whether or not there are any positions going as ‘road performer expertise compliance officer’ or some such.

In center age one begins to consider giving one thing again to society – and the way valuable the reward of respite from cacophony. 

Oh, to be the Simon Cowell of Glasgow central enterprise district. ‘It’s a no from me, chaps. In your approach or I’m calling for back-up.’

Some argue that buskers add to the vibrancy of our city and metropolis centres – or that the pavements and pedestrian precincts are the coaching floor for the Ed Sheerans of the longer term.

I see them extra as gatecrashers on our public areas, inflicting their musical ambitions on passers-by who’re too well mannered and too inured to background noise to inform them to belt up.

Coaching floor? It’s a excessive road. Do budding gymnasts deliver their pommel horses onto metropolis centre pavements? Do aspiring trampolinists drag their equipment to the closest city sq.?

Why are public areas any extra of a coaching floor for wannabe pop stars?

There are in Glasgow and nearly each different group of an inexpensive measurement in Scotland actual coaching grounds for musicians. They’re referred to as open mic nights.

The thought is that performers who wish to be there do their factor in entrance of punters who additionally need be there. It’s a tidy association whose success derives from an understanding between viewers and artist. One is there to listen to and see the opposite.


The road performer breaches this contract and insists on being heard and seen whether or not the viewers needs to conform or not.

The least one ought to anticipate is music pleasing sufficient to banish ideas of occasioning grievous hurt on their sound gear.

That will rule out these kilted Braveheart varieties with wild hair and massive drums who used to assault the ears of anybody going close to Buchanan Galleries of a Saturday.

When their thudding stopped, they used to carry up CDs. Sure, for a small cost, you may have splitting complications at house too.

Nothing would have given me larger pleasure than to see the lot of them marched away in handcuffs.

Now, please, new signage for our metropolis centres for individuals who loiter there with sonic intent: duff musicians might be prosecuted.

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