World's 'first socially-distanced concert' takes place

An English singer-songwriter has played to an audience of some 2,500 fans in what promoters claim was the world’s first socially-distanced concert.

Sam Fender performed a home-town gig at Newcastle’s Gosforth Park – the UK’s first music event of its kind since coronavirus restrictions were introduced in March.

The pop-up venue, named the Virgin Money Unity Arena, saw fans in groups of up to five watch the concert on 500 separate raised metal platforms.

Backed by his live band and a light show, the 26-year-old North Shields native performed songs from his chart-topping debut album Hypersonic Missiles.

Audience members wore face coverings as they walked about the site and bought drinks.

Fender’s gigs on Tuesday and Thursday have sold out.

Other acts, including music legend Sir Van Morrison, The Libertines and Maximo Park will follow throughout August and into September.

Comedians Jimmy Carr and Bill Bailey will also play at the temporary arena.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Sam Fender takes to the stage at the Virgin Money Unity Arena (Owen Humphreys/PA)</figcaption>
Sam Fender takes to the stage at the Virgin Money Unity Arena (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Helen Page, group brand and marketing director at Virgin Money, said: “We are delighted to play a part in bringing back live music events as we start to emerge from lockdown.

“This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans.”

Promoters SD Concerts said the safety of the audience is being protected, with each viewing platform having its own table, chairs and fridge.

People from the same household will arrive at the venue, park up then enjoy the concert from their own private area.

Fender was named in the BBC Sound of 2018 list alongside the likes of Lewis Capaldi and Billie Eilish, and won the Critics’ Choice Award at the 2019 Brit Awards.