A Night at the Brits
The biggest night in UK music finally returned after a 15-month hiatus.
I was lucky enough to be one of 4,000 spectators at the 2021 Brit Awards, one of the largest events in the UK since the country first went into lockdown in March last year.
When it was announced that the event, held at O2 Arena, would be going ahead with a live audience as part of the government’s Events Research Programme, it was music to my ears.
In March, I wrote about my experience of attending the virtual International Live Music Conference (ILMC) where the underlying message was, “we must get back to live as soon as possible”.
To enter the venue, we had to show proof of a negative lateral flow test and were asked to take another test post-event. Safety measures were immediately visible on entering the arena, with hand sanitiser on display and reminders to wear masks in certain areas. Findings from the night will be used to assess the safety of holding indoor events in the future.
This really was a celebration of the best in British music. Coldplay kicked things off with an incredible performance of their new single Higher Power, from a pontoon on the Thames. Dua Lipa performed a showstopping medley of songs from her latest album Future Nostalgia, for which she later picked up the awards British Album and British Female Solo Artist. I also got to witness history in the making as Little Mix became the first female group to win the British Group award. Congratulations to all the winners!
But the real stars of the show were the 2,500 frontline workers in the audience, who have worked tirelessly over the past year in the battle against Covid. In her acceptance speech, Dua Lipa paid tribute to the NHS heroes, saying: "This has been a long tough year for everyone and I'm delighted the night will honour the key worker heroes who have cared for us so well during that time and continue to do so.”
Test events have been carried out in other parts of the country too, including The First Dance club nights held in a warehouse in Liverpool. Partygoers had to take a lateral flow test before and after the 6,000-capacity event, and small cameras around the venue were used by scientists to monitor people’s movements.
I’d like to congratulate John Langford, Steve Sayer, The Brits and the O2 team for creating such a safe and efficient event, this really is a great benchmark for getting back to live events post pandemic. While the audience was only a third of its usual capacity, the atmosphere from people laughing, hugging and socialising was incredible and a sign that this is the beginning of an exciting road to recovery.
At YTL Arena Bristol, we are thrilled to see the industry rebuild after such a challenging year and can’t wait to start playing a part in the next decade of live music in the UK when we open in 2024.
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