SSD Concerts: Idles and Lanterns on the Lake drop promoter over harassment claims

By Paul Glynn
Entertainment reporter

  • Published
Idles' latest album Ultra Mono topped the UK chartImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Idles' latest album Ultra Mono topped the UK chart

Bands including Idles and Lanterns on the Lake have said they will not work with a north-east England promotions company due to claims of sexual harassment made against it by staff.

SSD Concerts called the claims made against them online "malicious", but said they were taking them "seriously".

Northumbria Police told the BBC that no reports had been submitted to them.

However officers did arrest and caution a man for hacking into the company's social media account earlier this week.

The largely anonymous allegations, which also include the use of "offensive" language, staff being made to feel "uncomfortable" and "underpaying" workers, were shared via the business reviews section of the jobs website Glassdoor.

SSD Concerts, which describes itself as "one of the UK's largest independent live event promoters" was the driving force behind last summer's Virgin Money Unity Arena - billed as the world's first socially distanced music festival. It saw the likes of The Libertines and local star Sam Fender perform in Gosforth Park in Newcastle.

'Pain, stress and discomfort'

On Thursday evening, Idles, who scored a number one with their recent album Ultra Mono and were previously listed for the Mercury Prize, posted: "In light of the recent allegations against SSD Concerts, we would like to make it clear that they will no longer be promoting our show at Newcastle City Hall on 2 February 2022."

The Bristol band then directed fans to online resources where they can get help regarding sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Fellow Mercury listees Lanterns on the Lake added they were similarly unwilling to perform in their home city as long as their gig was promoted by SSD Concerts. They noted how they had now opted to move their gig to the Boiler Shop - a Newcastle venue which has also since cut its ties with the firm.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"I suppose the most disappointing part of this is that there has been no real acknowledgement by SSD of the pain, stress and discomfort they have caused some of their own employees or any indication of what they plan to do to put things right," they wrote.

'Safety is paramount'

In a statement released online on Thursday, SSD Concerts boss Steve Davis said: "We take what we have seen very seriously, but it seems 'trial by social media' means you are guilty until proven innocent."

"The safety of our staff, the agents, the artists and the audiences that attend our shows is paramount," he added.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Sam Fender performed at the SSD Concerts-promoted outdoor Virgin Money Unity Arena last summer

"Bullying, harassment and equal opportunities policies are in place, a process that started long before the recent postings and allegations on social media.

"We are committed to continue to improve the working environment and to implement systems and procedures that protect our staff and enable them to develop."

Mr Davis noted how the company was pleased the police "acted so swiftly" to catch the man who had hacked into its account.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: "We can confirm we received a report that the social media account of SSD Concerts had been hacked earlier this week.

"Enquiries to identify the person responsible have been ongoing and on Wednesday a 25-year-old man was arrested.

"He has since been issued with a caution for the offence of performing a function that gains unauthorised access to a computer."

'Exceptionally worrying'

After the reviews were made public, music development agency Generator claimed it had heard "exceptionally worrying accounts" from workers; while the PRS Foundation, which helps to fund new artists, declared: "Misogyny and abuse is unacceptable".

The BBC has asked SSD Concerts for a further comment about the allegations.

Meanwhile, another BBC 6 Music favourite artist, Kelly Lee Owens, also confirmed on Friday she "will no longer be promoted by them" due to the "increasingly worrying allegations"

"My team are working on alternative options and ticket buyers will be notified," she added.

One of the region's rising stars, singer L Devine, echoed those sentiments saying she would not be performing at the company's Hit the North Festival, while praising the "bravery" of those who have spoken out online.

"Let's now continue to make the north east music scene one we can be proud of with no room for mistreatment or harassment," she said.

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