Are UK Drive-In Gigs an Impractical Nightmare?

It has been well-reported, even on these pages, that the live music scene is on its knees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s pleasing to see the industry pulling together to rebuild. The BBC reports that Live Nation have just announced a series of drive-in gigs across the UK, under the banner, “Live From The Drive-In”, seeing 300-car gigs in outdoor spaces in Birmingham, Liverpool, London will play host, as well as Edinburgh, Bristol and beyond, from July to September. We hate to throw a spanner in the works but can this ever work?

For a start, the UK has no history of drive-ins, not even for films. Yes, there are small events every summer but they are niche, only adequately attended and, frankly, a gimmick. We have no culture of accessing entertainment this way, neither do either our vehicles or geography really fit the remit. Even a gathering of 300 cars has the potential to snarf up our roads and motorways. Is this even, with all good intetions aside, how e want to experience live music? Impersonal experiences with no atmosphere in car parks? Sorry guys, we’re really not biting on this one

A series of drive-in concerts are to take place across the UK this summer, promoters Live Nation have announced.

The likes of Ash, Dizzee Rascal, The Lightning Seeds and Gary Numan, have all signed up to play at the “Live From The Drive-In” events.

Outdoor spaces in Birmingham, Liverpool, London will play host, as well as Edinburgh, Bristol and beyond.

The 300-car gigs have been designed to provide a safe alternative to the many events that have been cancelled.

The concert series, which will also feature The Streets and Tony Hadley, will run from mid-July until September, while music venues continue talks with the government about how and when they might reopen in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 400 grassroots venues are facing permanent closure, according to the Music Venue Trust, which says the situation for many concert halls is “dire”.

It has warned the UK government that an immediate cash injection of £50m is needed to prevent mass closures in July, August and September.

The organisation has also called for a one-off cut in VAT on ticket sales for the next three years; and is running a campaign to raise money for threatened venues.

Initiatives include a virtual festival in Bristol this weekend, with artists like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Beth Rowley aiming to hit £20,000 in donations.

Live Nation is one of the UK’s biggest concert promoters and owns venues like Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena and London’s Brixton Academy, which are unlikely to open their doors before the end of the year.

The company’s share price fell from $75 (£60) to $29 (£23) in March as the lockdown took hold, although the figure is now hovering in the $45-50 range.

Drive-in concerts with limited audiences will not necessarily reverse its fortunes, but promoter Peter Taylor said the company was “excited” to help live music resume.

“This outdoor concert series was created as a way to reimagine the live music experience during a time of social distancing by allowing fans to enjoy concerts in the safest way possible,” said Taylor.

Danish musician Mads Langer performs live to 600 cars at Copenhagen Airport

Concert-goers will be able to stand outside their vehicles in allocated spaces, or sit in their own fold-out chairs, although umbrellas will not be permitted.

Pets will also be disallowed; and attendees will prevented from bringing their own food.

Live Nation added they would be “adhering to the Government’s current social distancing rules to protect fans, artists, crews and staff at all times”.

Tickets will be available on the Live Nation website from 22 June for the series.

Earlier this summer, medical experts and music bosses predicted that 2020 was a write-off in terms of traditional concerts and festivals; most of which were indeed scrapped.

Drive-in concerts have subsequently been tried out in Denmark, Germany and the US.

Keith Urban performed a secret show to around 200 front-line healthcare workers in Tennessee in May. The American country star described the event as being like “a tailgate party”.

The gig news comes in the same week that Get Comedy announced a raft of drive-in comedy events for London’s Brent Cross London this summer.

Performers will include Jason Manford, Bill Bailey and Rachel Parris, as well as Jonathan Pie, Omid Djalili, Reginald D Hunter and Shappi Khorsandi.

The Drive-In Club will also host the UK’s first ever red-carpet drive-in film premiere for the British thriller Break, starring Rutger Hauer in his final film role, on 22 July.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.