INTERVIEW: Steve Davis, Virgin Money Unity Arena | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Words: Steve Davis

The eventual outcome for the Virgin Money Unity Arena was a world away from the initial idea! We started with people standing alongside their cars and driving in but we quickly realised the sound would be awful with 500 cars facing an outdoor festival PA. As we went the guidelines changed so we were able to lose the cars and add the platforms so there was a natural barrier between all the pitches. We were super happy with where it ended up however, and feel like it was as close to normality as we could push it whilst respecting social distancing and people’s health and safety.

In terms of delivering a Covid-safe live music experience with only eight weeks notice from approval to build, I feel very proud of what our team created. We almost didn’t have any expectations as the turnaround was so quick which helped us enjoy more as we went.

Sam Fender’s opening night obviously meant a lot to us, coming out to a local hero was something else in the circumstances and definitely left a lump in my throat. As the shows started kicking in Van Morrison was definitely a highlight, he was amazing and it was a great evening weather wise which added to it. The other main highlight was the closing night, we were obviously cut short due to the local lockdown and Chase & Status fully embraced being the final performers. The crowd interaction and the atmosphere that night was sensational.

During the summer, a little bit of hope to people went a very long way, live music fans need that stimulation – I certainly do – which is why we fought so hard to make the shows happen. It’s been a terrible year for people in general and a lot of people’s mental health will be at an all time low. It’s great to see examples of innovation and how people are responding to these difficult times though. We need to be strong, we need to be resilient and we need to be innovative to outlast the virus. Live music and music in general can definitely repair mental health, there will be so many hits written throughout this pandemic; if you look at it positively there is hopefully an avalanche of good music to come from it.

We think that there may more shows to come; as much as we’d love things to go back to normal it seems like it will be later on in 2021 so we are actively looking at the Spring and making plans for the event to return.

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