The Maltings complex has found a way to keep Elyâ€™s teenagers from following the route of their predecessors in buying an old, loud car and terrorising the streets at night by racing round and round the city centre.
Every one or two months the Maltings, in association with ADeC and the Babylon gallery, hosts an Electric Eel event. Local bands play in the events hall and give Elyâ€™s more rock influenced citizens something to watch for an evening.
The nights generally follow the same formula. One or two bands play to kick start the eveningâ€™s entertainment who are local and pretty new to the music scene. Then the night is headlined by a nationally recognised act to lend more excitement to the proceedings and generate more interest from the crowd.
This is an amazingly good idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, it provides an alternative for teenagers who may be musically inclined. Instead of sitting in a friendâ€™s bedroom or, worse still, hanging around parks in the dark young people are given the opportunity to see nationally known bands at a small cost. Instead of being involved with alcohol or crime which usually comes from boredom, they are encouraged to have fun in a safe and clean atmosphere.
The Electric Eel nights also give local musicians a chance to perform on a proper stage with lighting and sound systems without being in competition. They are able to gain experience and contacts whilst entertaining their peers. Thus more young people will have the opportunity to break into a notoriously difficult industry.
Of course nights like this will always be criticised by some sectors of society as leading the youth astray or luring them into a life of debauched rock and roll, but that could not be further from the truth. While they are watching live music, an experience in itself that I wish I had had when younger, parents can see where their children are and what they are doing. That has to be better than teenagers pulling the old â€œIâ€™m at her houseâ€? trick and going to the park to drink alcohol in the dark.