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Live music is back… in Australia, that is

Music lovers, rejoice: arena shows are making a socially-distant return

James Manning
Written by
James Manning

When was the last time you went to a massive arena gig? Not recently, we’re guessing. Full-scale concerts in most countries have been more or less on hold for eight months now, with only the odd drive-in show propping up the live music industry.

Well, in Australia at least, the mega-concert is finally making a comeback, with the country’s first large-scale shows since March taking place in Sydney in November and December.

Each gig will seat 6,000 people (a reduced capacity, but still pretty massive) with plenty of Covid safety measures in place. It’s all part of the regional government’s Great Southern Nights series, which is staging more than 1,000 shows at 300-plus venues in and around Sydney.

In the state of Queensland, meanwhile, capacity restrictions have been dropped this week – meaning that indoor shows can now run at their normal audience capacity as long as they still allow for some social distancing.

Concert revenues have dropped worldwide by 64 percent in 2020, according to music industry magazine IQ. Large-scale live concerts have been taking place in the few countries that have been largely unaffected by the year’s events, such as New Zealand, China and Taiwan. But the return of arena gigs to Australia eight months after the country went into lockdown is the strongest sign yet that live music can bounce back.

In other countries, the industry continues to experiment with new safety measures to unlock full-capacity gigs, including an experimental concert in Germany that investigated how viral particles could spread, and an initiative by Ticketmaster to check whether audience members have tested negative or been vaccinated.

So hang tight, gig-goers pretty everywhere else in the world: you’ll get there soon enough!

Watch: Barcelona’s opera house put on a concert for 2,000 plants

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