World's 'first socially-distanced concert' could be future of festivals – so you can leave the wellies at home

THOUSANDS of people watched the world's first socially-distanced gig in Newcastle last night – and it could be the welly-free future for festivals.

North Shields performer Sam Fender performed a home-town gig at Newcastle's Gosforth Park in front of 2,500 fans who sat in sectioned-off areas.

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Revellers in groups of up to five were spread across 500 separate raised metal platforms to enjoy the music.

All were given chairs when they arrived at the pop-up Virgin Money Unity Arena yesterday.

And there are hopes the gig could pave the way for the return of live music during the pandemic after Fender's performance last night, as well as a further gig tonight, sold out.

Further concerts are planned, with music legend Van Morrison, The Libertines and Maximo Park performing at the venue this month and in September.

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

Last night, audience members worse face coverings as they walked around the site and bought drinks.

Although chairs were given, many stood and danced during the event.

Organisers behind the event say it was a huge success.

Helen Page, group brand and marketing director at Virgin Money, commented: "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."

Officials say each viewing platform will have its own table, chairs and fridge to make sure crowds are kept separate and the risk of coronavirus transmission stays low.

Last night's event comes after a drive-in production of the West End musical Six was cancelled due to the potential of local lockdowns.

But promoters said the Government's implementation of local shutdowns meant they couldn't go ahead with the tour with "confidence".

Producers producers Kenny Wax, Wendy and Andy Barnes and George Stiles said: "We are so sorry to disappoint the thousands of fans who have booked tickets and sold out many dates on the tour.

"It is also a sad day for our West End and UK Tour Queens who had already started rehearsals and our entire team of up to 60 people who were all working so hard to deliver a spectacular show."

Music industry officials are trying to find new ways to bring music to fans during the crisis.

In June, Britain's first drive-in concert saw bands play to hundreds of people sat in their cars.

Three local bands played to the 300-strong sold-out crowd at Hampshire's Royal Victoria Country Park.

The Sun exclusively revealed plans for drive-in festivals in June.

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