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Live Nation cancels drive-in concert tour, blaming the possibility of local lockdowns

By | Published on Thursday 16 July 2020

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If you were looking forward to getting on board with the new new normal new normal normal new normal by checking out one of those drive-in concerts all the kids have been talking about, well bad luck. Live Nation has cancelled the entire drive-in tour it announced just two and a half weeks ago.

You’re probably muttering something about how bad ticket sales must have been to yourself right now. Well, stop that. That’s not the problem.

“We received huge support from artists, the live music production contractors, our headline sponsor Utilita, along with our other partners, and of course you, the fans”, says Live Nation. “However, the latest developments regarding localised lockdowns mean it has become impossible for us to continue with the series with any confidence”.

The issue, apparently, is that the UK government, having started to lift the national COVID-19 lockdown, is instead implementing local lockdowns at a moment’s notice.

Currently, Leicester is the only city in the UK being quarantined in this way. Other lockdowns are more localised to places like individual farms and hospitals. However, there’s a whole list of at-risk places where COVID-19 infections are on the rise and could therefore face a sudden new lockdown, as the government attempts to stave off the inevitable national ‘second spike’.

Drive-in concerts have already been taking place in other countries, and some other drive-in style shows had also been announced in the UK, in particular on the comedy side, some of which have gone ahead. Some of these drive-in concerts pump the audio through each car’s stereo system – ie in line with the classic drive-in movie experience – though that was not the plan for the Live Nation shows.

The idea there was that you’d pull your car up into an allotted spot in a field, set up a deckchair or two next to it at a safe distance from other people, and then enjoy “a full state of the art sound system, lighting rig and high definition LED screens, creating an arena or stadium concert feel”. So that sounds like it would have been almost like a normal concert. Except, of course, that you would have been surrounded by cars and sporadic people sitting in deckchairs.

Each show was expected to accommodate around 300 cars, meaning a maximum of 2100 people could attend. So that was quite a big set-up for a relatively small crowd, and possibly the economics only really works at scale. Therefore the prospect of just a handful of the planned shows having to be cancelled due to local lockdowns possibly made the whole thing unviable.

Artists who had signed up to play these experimental shows included The Streets, Ash, Gary Numan, Skindred, Beverley Knight and Dizzee Rascal.