Around 2,500 British music fans got to see a live show on August 11 — and unlike some recent Stateside shows, we weren’t clutching our masks at the sight of it. Rock singer-songwriter Sam Fender performed the first show at Newcastle’s pop-up Virgin Money Unity Arena, billed as the “first socially distanced music venue” in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic. The venue took over Gosforth Park in Newcastle with 500 metal platforms, each spaced two meters apart and fitting up to five people. According to the Belfast Telegraph, each platform has a table, chairs, and a fridge. Even booking a lower density than the park could hold in non-pandemic times, tickets look to be reasonable. Tickets for an upcoming Two Door Cinema Club show on August 15 are £37.50 per person, with an additional £20 charge per party to reserve the platform. Guests on the same platform must arrive in the same car. When it comes to concessions, you can preorder drinks separate from your ticket (including a four-pint beer pitcher or a package of three bottles of wine!) and pick them up at the venue bar.
Sure, maybe the arena just reinvented VIP lawn seating and made it distanced. But some fans could get used to it. “My hatred for human contact with people I don’t know really, realllyyy approves of this,” wrote @bloom_live on Twitter. In a separate tweet, @petalspawspages added, “THIS IS HOW I WANT IT TO BE FOREVER. I COULD FINALLY GO TO FESTIVALS!!” Fender himself — who performs again at the venue on August 13 — tweeted, “Thanks for tonight you fucking legends.” The shows will go on all summer long, with Van Morrison even playing a gig on September 3.