PHOTOS | Inside the first show at UK's 'dedicated socially distanced' venue

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Sam Fender poses at Virgin Money Unity Arena.
Sam Fender poses at Virgin Money Unity Arena.
Photo: Thomas M Jackson/Getty Images
  • 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.

ALSO READ | SA's first drive-in concert - Zakes Bantwini tells us how it would work

"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: