Van Morrison is calling for an end to the era of socially-distanced concert performances, referring to such practices as “pseudo-science” even on the eve of performing at several such venues in the next month.
“As you know, we are doing socially distanced gigs at Newcastle Upon Tyne’s Gosforth Park, Electric Ballroom and The London Palladium,” the singer-songwriter, who turns 75 on Monday, wrote on his official website. “This is not a sign of compliance or acceptance of the current state of affairs,” he noted, but rather “to get my band up and running and out of the doldrums. This is also not the answer going forward. We need to be playing to full capacity audiences going forward.”
Morrison, perhaps best known for the songs “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Moondance,” is performing at Virgin Money Unity Arena on September 3. That venue was recently launched with dedicated platforms for each group of fans set on the park’s horse racing grounds set six feet apart with a capacity of 2,500. He is also performing at the indoor Electric Ballroom and London Palladium in September, adhering to UK guidelines requiring drastically reduced capacity and social distancing for audience safety.
Such guidelines, Morrison says, are based on “pseudo-science” and asks “my fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters, and others in the industry to fight with me on this,” as well as pointing out that “it’s not economically viable to do socially distanced gigs.”
Morrison’s website referenced similar thoughts by theatrical legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, who owns seven venues in the West End, including the Palladium. Webber, whose works include Phantom of the Opera and Cats, decried the impossibility of running a profitable business with social distance guidelines to the BBC over the summer, though he did not discredit the science guiding such decisions as Morrison has.