Sam Fender kicks off socially-distanced concert series

The pop-up venue featured 500 separate raised metal platforms.

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

The 26-year-old singer-songwriter 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.

Sam Fender plays first socially-distanced gig in Newcastle
Sam Fender takes to the stage at the Virgin Money Unity Arena (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Backed by his live band and a light show, the 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, while one family held a oversized cut-out of Fender’s face aloft.

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

Sam Fender plays first socially-distanced gig in Newcastle
Sam Fender plays to fans in the front (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Other acts, 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.

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.

Sam Fender plays first socially-distanced gig in Newcastle
Fans arrive ahead of sunset (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“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.

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