'It was spectacular. We were in the front row and it was something we'd missed a lot’

France 24’s reporting captured the delirious sensation of finally being able to attend a live music experience:

‘Music fans in Barcelona hugged, danced and sang along at a sold-out rock concert on Saturday night after taking rapid COVID-19 tests in a trial that could revive the live music industry in Spain and beyond.’

The rapid Covid-testing protocols allowed Catalan indie band Love of Lesbian to have 5,000 fans attend their Palau Sant Jordi concert. Fans still had to wear masks but for the first time there was no social distancing requirement.

‘It was spectacular. We felt safe at all times. We were in the front row and it was something we'd missed a lot,’ said marketing expert Salvador, 29, who attended the show. ‘We are very proud to have had the chance to take part in this. We hope it'll be the first of many.’

Spanish-language media site Oye Siri Noticias says, ‘The World Is Watching’, as Barcelona hosts the world’s first post-social-distancing concert

Lead singer Santi Balmes started the concert of by roaring to the crowd: ‘Welcome to one of the most exciting concerts of our lives!’

The public health protocols established for the Love of Lesbian concert will serve as a pointer as to whether similar events will be able to start up again.

The event itself was was put together by the organisers of some of Spain’s largest music festivals including Sonar, Primavera Sound and Cruilla Barcelona Festival, in partnership with regional health authorities, doctors and epidemiologists at Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol in the nearby city of Badalona. according to Bloomberg.

‘If we can prove that you can gather 5,000 people using rapid tests, then we’re opening the door to doing many more things,’ said Gemma Recoder, one of the organizers and the director of the Canet Rock festival. ‘It’s a key step not just for live music but for everything else, from conferences to sports events.’

The Love of Lesbian concert followed a pilot event in December in Barcelona that involved only 500 fans. Preparations for the second phase took months, Recoder said, and included following advice on health protocols and a renovation of the stadium’s air ventilation equipment.

‘The air you’re breathing inside now has the same quality as the air outside,’ said Jordi Herreruela, an organizer and director at Cruilla Barcelona Festival. ‘Doctors tell us it might be safer to be at the concert than walking in the street because we have created a sanitary bubble in which we know everyone is tested.’

Following the concert data from all concert-goers will be crossed-referenced with data from public health authorities; if someone tests positive during the two weeks after the concert, organisers will know.

There’s about a 10 percent of that happening. But if that percentage becomes unusually high, then organisers and authorities will get in touch with the concert-goers and take measures to contain the spread of the virus.

In terms of the event itself, by midday, three out of 2,400 people already screened had tested positive and one had come into contact with a positive case, said Dr. Josep Maria Libre, a doctor who oversaw the testing. They were unable to attend the concert and would get a refund.

Attendees received their antigen test results in 10 to 15 minutes via an app on their phones. The test and a mask were included in the ticket price.

‘I believe today we have made one thing a reality which is to show the world that culture is safe,’ said Ramon, a 49-year-old fan.

Perhaps sensing how big this moment was in global terms, lead-singer Balmes implored the crowd: ‘Don’t take off your masks because the success of live music in Europe and the world depends on this concert tonight’.

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Charlie Charters is a former rugby union official and sports marketing executive turned thriller writer whose debut book Bolt Action was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2010.
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