Adele may have headlined Glastonbury and filled arenas across the globe in a worldwide tour that climaxes next month with four sold-out dates at Wembley Stadium, but 10 years ago she was playing a gig in a library in Lancaster for an audience of 175. “You can check out the show online,” says Stewart Parsons. “I am so relieved we filmed that!”
Parsons, a librarian with more than 30 years of experience, started the Get it Loud in Libraries scheme 10 years ago to introduce new people to libraries by turning them into live music venues for special concerts. Over the last decade, 36,108 people have attended 279 shows put on by acts including alt-J, Florence + The Machine, Imelda May, British Sea Power, Plan B and, of course, everyone’s favourite balladeer, Adele, whose fee that evening in Lancaster was £50.
“She was grateful for the opportunity,” recalls Parsons. “She told me that on Myspace.
“The aim is to capture great artists on the cusp of something special and land them on a stage in towns less associated with the major touring maps – doorstep gigs for people of all ages who cannot afford public transport or for whom ‘last trains home’ make gig attendance impossible.”
Big names have played tiny little venues: Plan B in Rugby Library, The Young Fathers in Skelmersdale Library. Parsons’ personal highlights are many: “Tim Burgess and Gruff Rhys playing tiny Kendal Library was gorgeous, and Adele singing on a borrowed bar stool on an out-of-tune guitar is right up there.