More than 2,500 music fans were spread out into hundreds of small fenced-off areas as they watched Sam Fender take to the stage last night, in what is thought to be the world’s first socially-distanced concert.
The North Shields native performed a home-town gig at Newcastle’s Gosforth Park, where a pop-up venue saw fans in groups of up to five watch the concert on 500 separate raised metal platforms.
The event at the pop-up venue, named the Virgin Money Unity Arena, was the UK’s first music event of its kind since coronavirus restrictions were introduced in March.
Promoters also claim it is the first socially-distanced concert in the world.
Backed by his live band and a light show, the 26-year-old Fender performed songs from his chart-topping debut album Hypersonic Missiles.
Audience members wore face coverings as they walked about the site and bought drinks, while one family held a oversized cut-out of the singer-songwriter’s face aloft.
Fender’s gig last night, and his upcoming concert on Thursday have both sold out.
Other acts, music legend Sir Van Morrison, The Libertines and Maximo Park will follow throughout August and into September, while comedians Jimmy Carr and Bill Bailey will also play at the temporary arena.
Helen Page, group brand and marketing director at Virgin Money, commented: ‘We are delighted to play a part in bringing back live music events as we start to emerge from lockdown.
‘This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans.’
Promoters SD Concerts said the safety of the audience is being protected, with each viewing platform having its own table, chairs and fridge.
People from the same household arrived at the venue, parked up then enjoyed the concert from their own private area.
Fender was named in the BBC Sound of 2018 list alongside the likes of Lewis Capaldi and Billie Eilish, and won the Critics’ Choice Award at the 2019 Brit Awards.
Last night’s event comes after a drive-in production of the West End musical Six was cancelled due to the potential of local lockdowns amid the pandemic.
The shows, which sold out at several venues, were expected to feature the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs, Dizzee Rascal and Sigala, the BBC reported.
But promoters said the Government’s implementation of local lockdowns meant they couldn’t go ahead with the tour with ‘confidence.’