The music and performances of the world-renowned Foo Fighters may well be described as edgy, however a recent tour brought frontman Dave Grohl closer to the edge than he may have hoped for. As BBC News reported, the band had just begun performing at the Ullevi Stadium in Sweden to a crowd of tens of thousands, when 46-year-old Grohl fell off the stage and into a security area while attempting to jump onto a ramp. Not wanting to disappoint, from his position on the ground he informed fans that “I think I just broke my leg”, but the show would go on after he got his leg fixed. After a quick trip to the on-site medical support team, indeed it did, for two and a half hours, with Dave performing seated with a medic supporting his leg.
Accidental stage fall is an occupational hazard of live music, with numerous examples of high profile performers having taken the plunge. Beach Country legend Jimmy Buffett fell from the stage at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney in January 2011 after the final encore while taking a bow; he sustained serious head injuries. And as reported in the UK Independent, in 2009, producer Greg Ladanyi suffered fatal head injuries from falling off a ramp near the stage at Nicosia’s GSP stadium.
While installing guard rails on the unprotected leading edge of a stage would provide a form of protection against falls, in the context of a concert, it is clearly an unreasonable control. Work Health and Safety harmonised laws in Australia require the management of fall risks where the consequence of that fall could result in injury, however live performance and sporting activities are specifically excluded from the Regulation. In the absence of specific reference in law, a ‘reasonable and practicable’ approach would require recognised industry standards; and in the case of the risk of stage fall, that would be highlighter tape to demarcate the hazard.
But falls are not the only risks in live music. In London last month, Australia’s “5 Seconds of Summer” guitarist was rushed from the stage to hospital after his hair caught fire during a pyrotechnic effect.
Notwithstanding the inherent risks in live music, it seems the shows must go on because it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll!