Getting your live music fix in 2020 can be a challenge. However, there are incredibly innovative ways that artists and bands are reaching their fans to perform and fill the live music void in everyone’s hearts.
Last weekend, on November 8th 2020, I experienced my first ticketed livestream event. I virtually attended Niall Horan’s ‘Live at The Royal Albert Hall’ concert and was in awe of the technology that went into creating the live music experience.
So how did it work?
The pre-recorded event ran much like a regular gig. Fans were treated to an exciting announcement, setting their alarms for the moments tickets went on sale. After purchasing tickets (which was a much less stressful experience then usual, we love unlimited capacity!) virtual tickets were emailed to fans, with instructions on how to access the exclusive concert stream. What made the event so inclusive and accessible was the option of four livestream times, catering to fans all around the world, ensuring a stream could easily work into their time zones. The stream reached over 150 countries! On the day of the event, we were emailed a private link to direct us to the stream. This is where the excitement truly began for me.
It was 8pm, reminiscent of the nights when I’d be packed in a crowd, waiting for a performance to start on stage. Waiting for the stream to begin created the same sense of anticipation and excitement. What would Niall include in the setlist!? How long would he perform for!? Would there be any surprises!? The unknowns were so refreshing.
And then the screen went black, as close to the lights going out in the venue as one can get virtually…and the concert began.
Niall performed for an hour, playing through a setlist of songs from his debut album ‘Flicker’ and his latest album ‘Heartbreak Weather’. The beauty of this was, due to Niall releasing ‘Heartbreak Weather’ just as the world began going into lockdown. Niall was unable to tour the album. I had tickets to his 2020 Australian tour and when it was cancelled, resigned myself to thinking I wouldn’t be hearing the new music anytime soon. This livestream proved me wrong.
Hearing my favourite songs from ‘Heartbreak Weather’ live refuelled my soul. There’s no other way I can say it. It felt normal, it felt right, and it made me so grateful. Something that felt so out of reach was suddenly unfolding in front of my eyes. I danced, I cried, I sang. There was even a moment during ‘Slow Hands’ when Niall didn’t sing one line of the chorus, and out of habit, I sang the lyrics as every fan would at a concert when the artist holds the microphone out to the crowd to hear them sing the lyrics back to them. It was cheeky, given the livestream nature, but so, so normal. As I wrote yesterday, live music is healing and let me tell you, I felt healed.
Niall also treated fans to a surprise guest, Ashe, who joined the former One Direction member on stage to perform their collaboration, ‘Moral of the Story’. The surprise was reminder of the new COVID world we live in, as the pair described the extreme lengths they went to when getting the LA performer to London, including a two week quarantine.
The footage of Niall and his band performing was complimented by stunning shots of The Royal Albert Hall, which helped set the mood for the evening and often, made it feel like you were actually in the venue. Personally, I also found myself feeling privileged to see such a beautiful, historic venue on display without an audience. As you can see in the videos above, the production was beautiful, lighting up the room in time with the songs being performed and creating a memorable viewing experience.
Seeing Niall Horan perform virtually was everything my live music loving soul needed. Other artists including Kylie Minogue and Billie Eillish have streamed concerts of the same format with just as much success, proving there’s not only a market for the events, but also a need. However, it isn’t just fans that need these concerts. it’s the crews.
One of the most touching aspects of Niall Horan ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’ was that all proceeds from ticket sales were being donated to his personal touring crew and the #weneedcrew relief fund. Niall passionately spoke of the cause, reminding fans that crew members were struggling in these COVID times, left to find supermarket jobs or other jobs of a casual nature due to the live music industry coming to a standstill. Niall wanted to ensure crews weren’t being left behind. Knowing I was supporting such an incredible cause made the live music experience even more fulfilling.
If you have the chance to witness live music in any capacity in 2020, take it. Whether it be a COVID safe event (if you’re in one of the lucky countries!) or a virtual livestream event, live music is healing. Live music is escapism and it’s needed more than ever.
If you love One Direction, check out my blog post featuring Harry Styles.
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