live music venue UK
Credit: Twitter @AlexandraJarvi1

As they say in live entertainment: the show must go on, and following six months with an absence of live music, the industry is hurting. The UK has begun to ease restrictions across the country with citizens taking the opportunity to travel abroad and enjoy events again, even for a sense of fleeting normality. While music festivals have been put on hold indefinitely, a few inventive organisers are troubleshooting social distancing with mass crowds.

The first official socially distant venue to open its, ahem doors, since the pandemic begun held its first concert on Tuesday. Executed outdoors, 2,500 fans were allocated across 500 distant platforms upon a racing track field at Gosforth Park in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Sam Fender headlined the first two sold-out shows at the popup amphitheatre.

Ticket holders to the event were reportedly asked to refrain from mingling between platforms and wear masks.

“I will miss the mosh pits,” Fender said in an interview with the BBC before the show, “but they will come. They’ll eventually come back when we’re allowed to do it again. … I think it’s fantastic that our region is going to lead the way on this, and we’ll be the trailblazers for something that will hopefully continue on through the rest of the pandemic. … It’s not going to be the same as a gig you would normally have, but we’ve got to do what we can do.”

Other scheduled events at the dubbed Virgin Money Unity Arena includes Van Morrison, Maximo Park and comedians Jimmy Carr and Bill Bailey. But initial reactions from Twitter reveal that many people aren’t overly impressed. “6’ may be appropriate for tuberculosis, but this is a virus. It can travel 50’+ and stay in the air for hours. Do they have 1,000 different entrances? Did they have to walk in the wake of the crowd? This is horrible!”, one Twitter user commented.

Another said, “Worst thing I have ever [seen]. What is wrong with people who want this. There is nothing better then jamming out at concert or high fiving at sporting event with strangers. Stop being shut ins.”

The organisation of the event is somewhat reminiscent to ticketed sporting matches in Australia. The current law allows one quarter of the capacity to attend in selected states with social distancing to be followed at all times.