• stuartrook


My fair City of Newcastle seems leading the way in socially-distanced-big-gigs and I attended one such curio on Saturday night (by the amazing/perennially underrated 'Supergrass). Thought you might be interested in a few observations.

I was lucky enough to be quite near the front (certainly not that much further back than I would usually find myself) - and honestly, my personal experience wasn't that much different from if I had attended a very, very, very poorly attended 'normal' festival' gig.

Imagine a massive field with about 1/20th of the normal number of people and you aren't far off.

We had to arrive at little earlier (6pm for a 8.30ish set), the PA constantly reminded us to wear masks (only as we moved around the arena) and we had to watch exclusively from our own allocated steel fenced-off area (space for up to 5, I was just with my brother so plenty of room)......but other than that it was identical to a 'normal' outdoor gig......just with regional cricket pavilion sized applause rather than a festival sized roar.

But, it was essentially just a really, really poorly attended (but brilliant) gig.

Personally, I actually loved it (one of my favourite gigs ever was a Manics gig that I won a competition to see which was essentially a rehearsal in front of 100 people in a 2000 capacity venue (it was quite odd in hindsight)) - but I can see why it wouldn't have mass appeal.

It really depends how much of 'what you go to a gig for' is the crowd, the roar, the atmosphere, the anticipation, the cameraderie of being 'on the same side' and buzzing off other people enjoying the same thing as you vs 'the music per se'. I suspect for many the weighting is heavily to the former, and this format has little to offer those people.

Like I say, I actually loved it. I haven't been a 'get down the fronter' since I was 21 (If I ever was) and most of my gig watching it done from a 'safe distance' with liberal amount of appreciative commentary with friends. So it was essentially very similar except I had genuine personal space, didn't get lost getting back to my spot, and had the option of a fence to lean on and chair to sit on. Supergrass were amazing and I had a great time (even accounting for the 'ooooh, isn't it great to be out the house' factor - (shut up it's a real factor).

I personally had my required quota of 'hey, you like this thing too' fulfilled adequately by seeing everyone in the surrounding 'pods' enjoying themselves too.

The only thing that didn't work was the economics. I estimated there could only have been 600 people or so in the huge festival sized field, and even at £45 a ticket, I can't see how it can have worked for anyone involved in a sustainable way. If there had been more people there, their 'pods' would have been so, so far back - and I would question if I would have had as good a time as I did if I was miles and miles from the stage.

So I don't think it's going to save anything. Which is a real shame, because I had a brilliant time and my particular experience ticked most of my personal boxes for live music, but I heavily suspect these gigs are going to be one off experiments, borne of an industries frustration and desire to try something, anything to get live music going again.

But if there are more gudduns, count me in, I'll be there.

Stu (Lux Lisbon)

P.S Again, Supergrass were amazing. Can't stress this enough. Get them in your life.

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