- The Virgin Money Unity Arena has launched the UK's "first dedicated socially distanced music venue".
- English singer Sam Fender opened the arena as its first act. Other artists on the bill for the coming weeks include Ronan Keating and Becky Hill.
- Those in attendance shared pictures and videos of the experience on social media.
In July Virgin Money announced its plan to launch the UK's "first dedicated socially distanced music venue", and on Tuesday those plans became a reality when the Virgin Money Unity Arena had its first show.
The venue, which is in Newcastle, includes 500 viewing platforms that overlook an outdoor stage, according to The Guardian.
Platforms are spaced two meters apart, and the arena can hold a maximum of 2 500 people. Each household of ticketholders is assigned their own platform.
The Virgin Money Unity Arena website gives a full breakdown of how the venue operates, including purchasing tickets for shows and where and how to get food on the day.
Opening the venue was English singer Sam Fender. Other artists on the bill for the next few weeks include Becky Hill and Ronan Keating.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, SSD Concerts director, Steve Davis, said they had considered using the venue as a drive-in concert space, but the atmosphere would not have been the same "if there was a car between every group".
Drive-in concerts have become a popular solution for live shows to continue during the coronavirus pandemic. The concept works the same as a drive-in cinema, with attendees watching the show from the safety of their cars.
"But if the car isn't there, all of a sudden you get more of a gig atmosphere. We tried to get as close to the old gig experience as we knew it," Steve said, adding that they had to "jump through a lot of hoops with the local council" but they eventually managed to pull it off.
See footage of the venue's first concert here:
The UK’s first socially distanced gig is happening now in Newcastle with @samfendermusic headlining, and where attendees have their own private viewing area with 2m of space between them. Here’s what it looks like #samfender #unityarena pic.twitter.com/YBdxpAjYyi— Kieron Donoghue (@kierondonoghue) August 11, 2020