What do you love about live music?
Is it the intimacy, vibrations, or the sense of togetherness? For me, I cannot pinpoint one aspect; in particular, live music is just epic. It’s no secret that I used to love to attend concerts at least once a week from the age of 14-21. At one point in my life, music was all that I would live for.
At one point in my life, music dictated my reading, my opinion, and even the men I dated! It’s safe to say; I was a music snob. However, the older I got, the more my priorities changed, and in came another new passion, travel, which made me attend gigs and festivals less frequently.
Last year, I got to attend the Jazzmandu Kathmandu Music Festival, and it was an event that rekindled my love for live music. However, at that time, little did I know I would be able to predict this pandemic or when I’d ever get to witness live music again.
Bring in my home city.
Having spent some time visiting friends and family, I would never have got the opportunity to see live music. My home city Newcastle Upon Tyne had started conducting the U.K’s first-ever socially distanced gigs.
On the bill for August had musicians and comedians like Sam Fender, Patrick Topping, Jimmy Carr, Ronan Keating, and The Libertines. Having heard so many things online and reviews, I got invited by a school friend to The Libertines concert this Saturday just gone.
Entry guidelines for my first Socially Distanced Concert UK
To reserve our spot at The Libertines, we had to have four people, and all of us had to arrive at the venue in the same vehicle. So we did, got out of the taxi and walked up to the entrance.
At this point, we were all mesmerized as the location Gosforth Racecourse, had been made to look like a festival. In particular, the green walls, portaloos, and the fairy lights twinkling over the walkways.
After a few minutes of walking, we came to a standstill. There were stewards asking us to put on our face masks and proceed forward. Following this, we had our tickets, bags, and our bodies checked.
Entering the Arena
After being searched, it was here I got my first glimpse of the Virgin Money Utility Arena. Well, my first impressions were amazing. The arena looked like a kind I’d seen at a gig in Londons Hyde Park or Finsbury Park.
Then came the chairs, I could see the seating laid out into pens. On our tickets, we were assigned a ‘pig pen’ and had to stay there. Inside of it had four chairs, a bin, and instructions on how to main social distancing.
Waiting for the bands
While we waited, we had people come up to our pens with signs about track and trace. They efficiently made us scan their QR code and register our details so we could be aware if anyone had COVID. Likewise, if we were a carrier, at this time also, people brought jaeger bombs to us where we could pay contactless on our card.
Bar and food
When we went to order drinks at the bar, we had to have a mask on. It was surprising, as my friends and I took it in turns to get served, and had never got served as quick as that in our lives before. We ordered pitchers of beer, which was around £22 per pitcher. They also chose to get food, where they served burgers in a black bun, Indian, and Bengali street food.
A Scottish support band known as The Snuts performed about five songs prior to the Libertines coming on at 9. Then at 9, with the full moon out came to The Libertines performing an hour and a half set.
Having seen Pete and Carl many times, it was like reliving my school days. Me and my friends were belting out lyrics from the top of our voices to old hits. What shocked us more was the drastic change in Pete since we last saw him. At times we had to do a double-take and check it wasn’t The Cure’s, Robert Smith.
After playing a hit after hit set, it was time to go.
Was it worth it?
When I first heard about these socially distanced gigs, I was skeptical. I was sad to think the days of moshpits, beer/piss throwing pints over your head, sticky shoes against the floor, crowd surfing, and get intimate with other concert-goers were long gone.
However, attending my first socially distanced concert in the UK I was taken by surprise. The efficiency, the quick service, and the live music atmosphere. While the pandemic is still on, this service was what we all needed.
I cannot thank the promoters enough for putting on this initiative to showcase and get the art scene going again. That feeling of seeing live music way sooner than I’d anticipated was one I will cherish forever.
Will we see the return of intimate gigs? The return of moshpits? The return of crowd surfing?
I don’t know.
But one thing is for sure.
I’m damn proud to be a geordie, and my home city is one of the first cities ever to organize this initiative for the first socially distanced concert uK.
Well done Newcastle, well done.