The UK Held Its First Socially Distanced Concert—And We’re Not Sure If We Love It Or Hate It


Could this be the future of live events?

Live music events have been pretty much a complete no-go for the past five months. Due to COVID-19, there hasn’t been much in the way of viable options, especially for festivals or large arena shows. Until now. (Featured image: @virginmoneyunityarena)

With some help from the UK heatwave, promoters created the first socially-distant festival. A Sam Fender concert, in his hometown of Newcastle, now holds these somewhat historic bragging rights. And, as you’d expect, it looks a far cry from the concerts we’re used to.

The concert took place at the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Gosforth Park on Tuesday (August 11), and each set of guests had their own box of seats to maintain social distance. Fender’s concert managed to host around 2,500 people on 500 socially-distanced pods.

Attendees could order food and drink to their area as they watched from a table and chair inside their pods. Something all of us have wished for on the Sunday of a three-day festival, to be honest.

It’s a strange and bizarre turn of events for concerts and festivals that, along with everything else in 2020, no one could have predicted in 2019. And, of course, it divided opinion on the internet.

If it gets the live industry back to work, fair fucks, but I can’t truly express in words how depressing I would find this whole experience

— james (@jamesjammcmahon) August 12, 2020

This is awesome!!! Must’ve been so expensive putting this together though, these structures don’t look cheap at all! Hopefully the ticket price & everything else justify the costs thereof!

— ? ? ? ™ (@cdoubleyouwhy) August 12, 2020

This looks fab to me! No elbows in faces. No sweaty armpits next to my head. No one standing on your feet. No one spilling their pint all over you. Lovely seat and space to stretch legs out. Sounds bliss ??????

— Rachel Coombs (@Rachel_Coombs) August 12, 2020

This gif has never captured how I feel more.

— Chelsea Dickenson (@chchchchelsea) August 12, 2020

Similar vibes

— Anna Svan (@AnnaSvan) August 12, 2020

“We are delighted to play a part in bringing back live music events as we start to emerge from lockdown,” said Helen Page, group brand and marketing director at Virgin Money. “This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans.”

What do you think? If you’re into it, you’re in luck. The pop-up venue has more acts booked, including Van Morrison, The Libertines, Maximo Park, as well as comedians Jimmy Carr and Bill Bailey.