Reverend and the Makers’ Jon McClure has offered to play private online gigs for fans who are genuinely on their own on Christmas Day.

The Sheffield indie singer’s pledge follows the news that tighter coronavirus restrictions were to come into force over the festive period.

McClure has been contacting fans privately throughout this year.

He told the BBC he wants to do his bit “to keep spirits up” during the pandemic-restricted festivities.

“When I’ve seen people are struggling on social media or whatever, I’ll just message them and say, ‘ere are, get your mates on this Zoom or Facetime call’ and I’ll just play them a couple of songs,” explained McClure.

“I like that kind of inter-personal thing,” he said. “People who I think need a bit of a pick-up.”

“I’m bit wary of trying to look, like a lot of people at the minute, like the saviour of lockdown, or some sort of Christ figure,” he added.

“So I’m quietly just trying to do a bit in the background, you know, to keep spirits up.

“I think that that sort of war metaphor is overdone at the minute, but there’s a bit of that with Brexit and Corona. There’s a bit of just keeping the home front ticking over until this vaccine comes in.”

‘A bit special’

Since arriving on to the scene in mid-to-late noughties, alongside steel city associates the Arctic Monkeys, McClure’s alternative act have produced six top 20 albums; and enjoyed hits with tracks like Heavyweight Champion and the World, and He Said He Loved Me.

The singer and songwriter has garnered a reputation for ending some of his own actual live concerts with impromptu guerrilla acoustic encores in the street outside venues, and he believes his fans really “appreciate” that personal touch.

“It’s a bit like when I do those house gigs or go outside with the guitar after the gigs… it’s hopefully something a bit different that’s a bit off the beaten track,” he said.

“I just think about what I want from my favourite bands and that’s what I’d want – something that I can remember that’s a bit special.”

“You know this thing where [celebrities] charge people £60 to say hello on a video?” he asked. “I briefly toyed with doing that because I probably could’ve done with the coin, but I thought, ‘you know what, it’s a bit mucky this’.

“I’d do it anyway for nowt, so why would I suddenly start charging people for it?”

With a new record deal in the offing, Reverend and the Makers are aiming to release a new album in 2021.

This year, the revenue streams for most indie artists have been largely taken away, with venues closed and festivals and gigs written off. Emerging star Arlo Parks told the BBC that the events of 2020 made her realise that “the rug can be pulled any time”.

Elbow frontman Guy Garvey, meanwhile, recently told a DCMS Committee inquiry into the streaming music market, that the way artists are paid for audio streams is “threatening the future of music”.

‘Dead weird time’

McClure therefore applauds the efforts of young musicians, like BBC Sound of 2021 listees The Lathums, for valiantly putting on socially distanced gigs until the real deal is possible again; but suggests his own band will not be bothering probably.

Instead they are focusing on new material, while the frontman also works on a musical project with the University of Sheffield (and indulges in a spot of long delayed DIY at home).

“I think if you’re a young band, the momentum is important in terms of it’s a critical point in your career,” he said.

“Whereas I think when you’re a bit more long in the tooth like we are, I think if we didn’t do a gig for over a year everybody would be like, ‘fine!’. They’re gonna come back and come to a festival and jump up and down and sing all the old songs.

“There’s less imperative for us to do it. The only imperative would be like a financial one [but] I don’t want to skank the fans because I feel like everybody’s pressing everyone for money because musicians are skint.

“I’m just trying to retain bit of dignity, because it’s a dead weird time to be in a band.”