When the coronavirus pandemic emerged, the music and hospitality industry took a beating. Concerts and events were cancelled in Kenya and all over the world as countries imposed lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the virus.
But as the country joins some nations in easing restrictions, event organizers are figuring out how to restart the music industry and keep fans safe.
A new UK pop-up venue, the Virgin Money Unity Arena, is testing this out. Some 2,500 fans gathered at the outdoor venue on Tuesday August 11 for what organizers described as the ‘world’s first socially distanced concert’.
Groups of up to five turned out to watch musician Sam Fender from one of 500 raised metal platforms at the the arena in Gosforth Park, Newcastle, northern England.
Several musicians and comedians — including Van Morrison, Jimmy Carr and Bill Bailey — will follow suit later in the year in a series of events.
Distancing is enforced on arrival. Cars are parked two meters apart before patrons are guided to their own platformed private viewing areas, while food and drink can be ordered beforehand or via an app for collection or delivery.
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,” according to PA Media news agency.
“This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans,” she added.
Concerts and nightlife that many Kenyans and people around the world were used to before the pandemic could still be a long way off.
In the meantime, some organizers are experimenting with virtual events, drive through concerts, mandated personal protective equipment or temperature checks on arrival.
Radio Africa group for instance announced a virtual extravaganza set for August 22 and will feature Kenya’s afro-pop band Sauti Sol.
The much hyped online concert is a celebration of the band’s fifth album ‘Midnight Train’, launched on June 5.
According to a statement on Tuesday August 4 by music industry publicist Yvette Gayle, the event was however postponed from its original August 9 date due to overwhelming interest from fans all over the world for inclusion.
The BET Award-nominated musicians were gearing up to celebrate through an African YouTube extravaganza at the beginning of August.
“From Nairobi to New York, London to Lagos, Melbourne to Mumbai and Jakarta to Johannesburg, now everyone can take a trip through Sauti Sol’s latest musical offering,” Gayle said.
See the rest of the photos from the ‘world’s first digital concert’ below:
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