Robert in Lockdown – 25.3.21

This photograph is from Tide Lines acoustic Shadow to the Light video – filmed this time last year as we entered lockdown.

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Every week, I begin this column by putting the number at the top of the document.

This week, I paused for reflection as I wrote the number 52, which marks a full year since we decided to suspend the Glasgow Letter temporarily in favour of Robert in Lockdown. Little did we suspect the column would still take this form over a year later.

Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon with the rollout of the vaccine. Indeed, a well known Scottish dance band leader based in Lanark recently reported on Facebook that he had received his blue letter but wondered why he had to go to Motherwell to be vaccinated considering he remembers the days you had to be vaccinated to go to Motherwell!

Anyone from Motherwell reading this column, please be assured that was his joke and not mine!

In seriousness, though, while we’re obviously not out of the woods and the potential of a third wave in Europe is a cause for concern, my fingers are firmly crossed that bands can be out on the road again by the autumn and this column can return to some sort of normality in previewing and reviewing live events.

About the same time as I wrote my first lockdown column, Tide Lines filmed an acoustic version of our song, Shadow to the Light. We had just announced the postponement of our UK tour and, in a period of anxiety for everyone, tried to use this song as a universal message that, as the lyrics say: ‘…no matter what lies ahead of us now, we will be OK’. At that stage, we felt very much closer to the shadow than to the light.

A year later, we have just postponed the very same UK tour for a third time (to September), but this time we have renamed the tour after that same song. The thinking is that we now feel a lot closer to the light. It seems we are emerging from a difficult year towards a time when we are more confident than ever we will be able to fulfil the dates on the posters and play live shows.

For those of us who exist to hear and perform live music, this is very exciting indeed. This optimism has been reflected in ticket sales – with many of the shows in Scotland and some in England selling out after our latest rescheduling announcement.

Perhaps with the restrictions on foreign travel, there is an appetite among the British public to opt for staycations this year and I think this could lead to a real boom period for live music in this country.

For those who pine for the return of the traditional Glasgow Letter, never fear – I know I am still the custodian of a column that stretches back generations and it will return to that format as soon as there are events to report on.

Until now, I’m afraid it’s still just frivolous stories and jokes about vaccinations in Motherwell!