Major drive-in tour cancelled over virus fears

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

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Image source, Idil Sukan
Image caption,
Henry's wives in Six: Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon, Catherine Howard, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr

A major tour of the hit musical Six, which had sold out several drive-in venues in the UK, has been cancelled due to uncertainties over local lockdowns.

The concert series, organised by Live Nation, was also expected to feature performances by Kaiser Chiefs, Dizzee Rascal, Sigala and others.

Promoters said the "latest developments over local lockdowns" meant they couldn't proceed "with any confidence".

Ticket-holders will get full refunds.

Six's producer, Kenny Wax, said on Wednesday: "We are so very disappointed to have received the news of the cancellation earlier today.

"The previous hour has been spent telling the 60 members of our company that the job they were about to embark on has disappeared.

"We know that ultimately there is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of our company and the Six Queendom [the show's fans]. We look forward to better times."

Media caption,
Behind the scenes at the Arts Theatre in London to meet the sassy women in King Henry VIII's life

Wax added that the tour of the West End musical, which is based on the six wives of King Henry VIII, had been designed not as a money-maker but to put dozens of freelancers back to work.

The drive-in shows were announced last month, with outdoor venues such as airports and race courses booked in 12 cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Edinburgh and Bristol.

They were designed "as a way to reimagine the live music experience during a time of social distancing by allowing fans to enjoy concerts in the safest way possible," said Live Nation's Peter Taylor.

Concert-goers would have been able to stand outside their vehicles in allocated spaces, or sit in their fold-out chairs, although umbrellas were not permitted. Attendees were also banned from bringing their own food.

However, with concern growing over coronavirus "hotspots" in some locations - including Liverpool, where a week of gigs was planned - organisers have decided to pull the plug.

Image source, Live Nation
Image caption,
An artist's impression of what drive-in gigs could look like

A statement from organisers said: "The Live From The Drive-In concert series will no longer proceed as planned this summer.

"We received huge support from artists, the live music production contractors... and of course you, the fans. However, the latest developments regarding localised lockdowns mean it has become impossible for us to continue with the series with any confidence.

"We thank everyone for their support and eagerly await a time when we can watch live music together again."

Media caption,
How Danes have learned to embrace live music drive-ins

Other socially-distanced gigs are still set to go ahead this summer. The Comedy Story is hosting a series of drive-in shows at rugby grounds and racetracks throughout July and August; while Gosforth Park in Newcastle will see performances by Supergrass, The Libertines and Maxïmo Park next month.

Those shows will take place at what's been billed as the "UK's first socially-distanced live arena", where fans will have their own private viewing platforms, placed two metres apart with food and drinks available for pre-order.

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