Sunday, December 12, 2004

WOMAN WHO DIDN'T BUY EARPLUGS COMPENSATED FOR HER OWN LACK OF FORESIGHT: We'd be tempted to suggest that if everyone who experienced pain and suffering at a Bon Jovi gig got a ruling against the promoter, there'd be a lot of well-compensated people wandering about. In germany, however, Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK) have been ordered to pay a woman about five thousand US dollars to compensate her for the "pain and suffering" she claims she experienced to her hearing at a Bon Jovi gig in Nurmeburg in September 2000. They're also expected to underwrite medical expensese and loss of earning.

The woman says that since going to the gig, she has suffered tinnitus. Now, that's a nasty condition, and it's something we're not unfamiliar with as our years of gig-going catches up on us. But it's not really the fault of the promoters - the woman in this case was standing three metres from the speakers which would seem to us to suggest that she kind of chose to put her own hearing in danger. Promoters have a duty of care to the audience, of course: to ensure that in the event of a crush there's a team who can pull people out; to make certain that the venue can cope with the numbers attending; to check that barriers are rigid and that Fred Durst shuts the fuck up. But equally, we do have some responsibilites ourselves, don't we? If we choose to go and stand right in front of a speaker the size of a small block of council flats, and elect not to wear any extra hearing protection, then can we really complain if our ears are fucked in the morning? We're surprised the court chose to side with the complainant; it's another step towards the cotton-wooling of society. (If you need another example: check out the warning in the middle of the Christmas Radio Times to ensure you carefully fold down the staples when you pull out the Holiday supplement.)


Anonymous said...

Actually, I think venue owners/promoters are remarkably flippant about their duty of care, in relation to hearing, and I imagine the only reason more people don't win money like this is because it's very hard to quantify where the damage occured.

It never fails to amaze me how little thought is put into punters' safety at gig venues. There are some places (the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh, the London Astoria, to name but two) where I just can't imagine how they ever managed to get a license, there are so few visable fire exits.

And in relation to hearing, if you want to be near a band, how are you supposed to avoid the speakers? In larger venues, ie Brixton Academy/Glasgow Barrowlands size, it would be easy to set up a speaker relay, so the people at the front didn't have to be blasted. But people who go to gigs have no authority, so simple things like that will never happen.

Still, she went to a Bon jovi gig, she gets what she deserves! Joking.

simon h b said...

But there's a difference between basic safety things - like fire exits - and people choosing to put themselves at deliberate risk.

I suppose there are things that could be looked at like putting relay speakers into venues - although I'm far from convinced they work that well for rock music - and I do take your point that you have to be quite near the speakers to see the band, but even so: if you're getting damage done to your hearing, you know it's happening; if you choose to stay up the front, surely you have to take your own responsibility for that?

And - and here I know I sound like an old biddy - you can get hearing protection; little bits that slide in the ear and save your precious ears, while still letting through the music. Perhaps venues could offer these on the way in?

Anonymous said...

PArt of me agrees with you, and part of me doesn't. I went to see the Prodigy at Brixton a few weeks ago, and it was one of the loudest gigs I've ever attended. I was seriously worried about my hearing. And I was probably nearer the exit than the stage. What am I supposed to do? Leave? Ask for my money back because it's too loud? I'd like to try that on the bouncers at Brixton. OK, I could have brought ear protection, but I've never found cheap ear protection that didn't destroy the sound (should I spend £100 on some Etymotic ear plugs? Should we all?).

I think there's a failure on the part of venue owners, and local government - but the venue owners are never going to sort this out without pressure.

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