THE bizarre outcomes of Brexit bureaucracy were made uncomfortably clear to musician Steve Kettley when he found himself on a plane sitting next to his two saxophones.

“It was a pain in the arse as they were in my big flight bag which I struggled to strap into the seat even though I had paid for the case to be built so they could go in the hold,” he told the Sunday National.

The saxophone fiasco was part of a “nightmare” amount of paperwork needed to play at a gig in Spain following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Musicians are amongst those who have been hit hard by Brexit with many reporting higher costs and increased bureaucracy in order to be able to perform abroad.

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It works both ways with a German band losing thousands of pounds and treated like “criminals” by UK border guards who wrongly claimed they didn’t have the correct paperwork to perform at seven venues in the UK, including Bloc in Glasgow.

Trigger Cut said they had been left with “massive costs” for their non-refundable ferry tickets, rental van, return travel from Stuttgart to Calais and loss of earnings after they were told they needed paperwork neither they or the venues knew anything about.

The band said they had “never felt so humiliated and sad” after being isolated in a small room before being handed over “like criminals” to French border police.

Their treatment was raised in Parliament where SNP MP Pete Wishart, a former member of Runrig, said Brexit had been an “unmitigated disaster” for musicians with many bands from Europe giving up trying to enter the UK because of red tape and costs.

Last month, members of a Ukrainian orchestra were refused visas to perform at shows promoted on a UK Government website as an example of UK/Ukrainian relations.

Jaka Bizilj, chief executive of Star Entertainment, the promoter of the Khmelnitsky Orchestra concerts, said the immigration problems were “damaging the UK’s citizens, culture and relationship with Europe”.

Members of the orchestra were stuck in Paris for a week while they waited for the British Embassy to give them visas then, two days after their tour was due to begin, were told they had to pay €15,000 for emergency visas.

Bizilj said visas were issued only after he asked the embassy for a statement about the incident to put on a press release but it was still too late for some of the concerts.

Kettley (below), who used to play regularly in Europe with the band Salsa Celtica, said before Brexit touring had been no problem but he had ended up with a “nightmare of paperwork” for the one gig in Spain.

“It was just so easy before but it isn’t now,” he said. “With the Spanish festival they were constantly emailing saying I needed different things.

“At one point they asked me to send a contract even though they were employing me. There just seems to be a lot of confusion about what is needed.

“We had to pay Spanish income tax as well although you can claim it back.”

He said differences over interpreting the new Brexit rules meant he had ended up with a paid seat on the flight for his saxophones.

“If you are sending an instrument over unaccompanied you need a Carnet which costs a fair bit and the Spanish festival seemed to think this was needed even if the instrument is in the hold of the plane you are travelling on, so they paid for a seat for my saxophones,” said Kettley.

“Some of the problems might have been due to translation but they asked for loads of forms and one in particular was called a foreign identification number and you have to go to the Spanish consulate for it.”

Kettley is now looking into what paperwork he has for gigs lined up in Germany this summer.

“I am sure all this must be affecting other musicians too,” he said.

Steve Byrne, director of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS), confirmed Brexit woes were compounding the difficulties musicians are facing at the moment.

He said: “The lockdown effects on top of post-Brexit touring difficulties and the cost of living have caused many of our best practitioners to look closely at the viability of their careers in the current climate.”.

Thomas Dayan, deputy general secretary at the Federation of International Musicians, said: “Mobility and cultural exchange across the channel is vital for musicians and audiences. Following the disturbance caused by Brexit and Covid-19, it is time for the UK and the EU to roll up their sleeves and lift any obstacles to musicians’ mobility.”