Pilot festival in Liverpool brings the good times back - for one night only

May 04, 2021 - 01:05 PM

An amazing pilot concert in Liverpool on Sunday saw the largest number of people to have legally crammed into such a small space in the UK since the start of the pandemic. They had a euphoric night - but a lot is riding on its success.

It's a sight that has existed only in fond, fading memories for the past 13 months, and has sometimes seemed destined to be consigned to the carefree pre-Covid age - 5,000 closely-packed music fans dancing and jumping, and singing in unison at the top of their lungs.

No masks. No social distancing. No rule of six. No risk of fines.

Just having a good time with your mates, drinking beer from cardboard pint pots, queuing up for Portaloos, getting rained on - and listening to live music in a melee of strangers who are hearing, seeing and feeling the same things as you.

Sunday's mini-festival in Liverpool's Sefton Park was one of the government's official trial events to research how large gatherings can safely take place again.

All ticket holders had to take a supervised lateral flow test at one of four testing centres in the city the day before, and were only allowed in if the test was negative.

They were also strongly encouraged to take more sensitive PCR tests on the day of the show and to do so again five days later, on Friday. That will be crucial to working out whether there was any spread of the virus.

Scientists are also studying other factors like audience movement and interaction, ventilation, duration, catering and alcohol consumption. Mysterious people with clipboards wandered around making notes.

It's all with the aim of working out how summer music festivals can go ahead after 21 June, when stage four of the government reopening roadmap will, in theory, see the end of restrictions on social contact.

Some concertgoers did admit they had been anxious about being in a crowd again after so long. The testing process largely proved reassuring, and its success will help determine whether we see scenes like this again soon.

Sunday's six-hour show followed two nightclub pilot events, which were attended by 3,000 people per night in the city on Friday and Saturday.

The live music trial was staged by Reading, Leeds and Latitude promoters Festival Republic.

"We've worked really hard to do everything right behind the scenes - all the testing - to create an atmosphere that didn't feel sterile and didn't feel as though you were in a test or a pilot show or an experiment," managing director Melvin Benn said.

Here at Funky Media Radio we woud love to see festivals, club nights and dancing back again. How about you?

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