Travel Editor Catrin Jackson lays out the details of the Virgin Money Unity Arena and what this could mean for the future of concerts in a post-pandemic world
Lockdown has seen the cancellation of beloved music concerts across the globe, with artists adapting via virtual live streams on Instagram whilst festival highlights have been accessible through BBC iPlayer. Though fans have rejoiced over these virtual concerts, they are nonetheless void of the intimate and emotional experience a live concert would offer. Luckily for music lovers, a more intimate initiative has been introduced in Newcastle: The Virgin Money Unity Arena.
Featuring 500 individual viewing platforms for each singular household, the venue boasts a 2,500-person capacity. Helen Page, a Director at Virgin Money, claimed: ‘At Virgin Money we are being as innovative as possible during these challenging times, and music is very much at the heart of our new brand direction. We are delighted to play a part in bringing back live music events as we start to emerge from lockdown.’ The venue will open its doors in August, with plenty of artists to choose from. Most recently, Two Door Cinema Club announced their debut via Instagram, with tickets on sale for ‘the UK’s first socially distanced Arena’ on 15th August. Following on will be Tom Grennan on 27th August, and English rock-band The Libertines on 29th August.
Two Door Cinema Club is a great headliner with regard to reintroducing live concerts. The sheer energy of their vocals causes the listener to transcend into an optimistic haze as ‘Something Good Can Work’ blazes through the speakers, whilst the crowd unite through the popular anthem ‘What You Know.’
The music industry have had to consider more inventive ways to adapt to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This opportunity to see artists perform in real life as opposed to through a screen comes closer to the intimate and more united feeling of experiencing a pre-lockdown gig. However, this concert unity could promote more anxiety as opposed to excitement, given a survey in mid-June by Music Venue Trust, which represents 819 independent UK venues. It found that only 36% of the public felt it would currently be safe to go to a concert. Therefore, it is not exclusively a case of opening the venues when appropriate, but rather how comfortable post-lockdown concert goers will be within big crowds again.
Much about going to a live concert is the atmosphere around you; the unity you feel with the whole arena as you sing the lyrics word for word, reaching your phone camera over the tall person standing in front of you, and being enveloped in the dream-like state of the joyous and emotional atmosphere a live experience would provide. Though these headlines will be experienced on socially-distanced platforms, this would not completely compromise this sense of unity that makes a concert a true and immersive experience. More crucially, this development is an exciting step in the right direction in the process towards reintegrating music concerts into society. These measures will certainly enable fans to appreciate the whole concert experience even more.
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