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Live concerts during the pandemic: We should lower our expectations

Live concerts during the pandemic : We should lower our expectations

Concert promoters need a rethink for the post-corona age. Some are reacting with new ideas whilst others are rigorously postponing to next year.

A roaring crowd of people, standing elbow to elbow, caught in the intoxication of a live concert: According to event organisers in Bonn, these scenes will not be taking place for the foreseeable future. The Corona pandemic has changed everything, they say - and yet they are confident that the music business will continue. Just in a different way than before.

"We have to prepare ourselves for a new normality," says Ernst Ludwig Hartz, who had wanted to bring superstars like Sting or Robbie Williams to Bonn this year and has now moved everything to 2021. "It's hard to make any predictions at the moment, but I'm pretty sure that we should lower our expectations for live events. It's certainly not going to be the way it was before the virus."

Despite the uncertain situation in which all event organisers, technicians, venue owners and artists currently find themselves, Hartz is cautiously optimistic. "People want to experience concerts again, and open air is popular," he says. "I'm organising Tom Jones at Roncalliplatz at the end of July next year, a date that has only recently come about. Over 1000 tickets has already been sold.”

On the other hand, big events with more than 5000 people are still banned, and Hartz does not expect this to change this year. And who knows what 2021 will bring. "We are currently developing various concepts for the concerts on the Hofgartenwiese," he says with a view to the performances by Kraftwerk or Robbie Williams, for each of which up to 25,000 people were originally expected. "I hope the situation has calmed down a bit by then. For the time being, I'm glad that now at least seats can be provided for concerts in the Harmonie or the Pantheon. That's still better than doing nothing at all."

Jürgen Both, who has been organising concerts in Bonn and the region with his company Rocktimes Production for 15 years, has a similar view. "Of course the lockdown was a shock for me. Now things are slowly happening again, even if unfortunately bands from abroad are not possible at the moment. The problem is certainly that all concerts now have to be seated, which is difficult to promote for rock music. But there is no other way. Some bands have already cancelled their shows with me because of this - but on the other hand the Metallica tribute band Mytallica wants to play in the Harmonie despite these requirements.

Jürgen Both has had to cancel some concerts himself, as he explains: "I would like to have had Guildo Horn in Bonn with his Christmas programme again, but he requires a much more open stage and event than we can set up under the given conditions. For this I have been able to get the medieval band Corvus Corax, who will be performing an acoustic set."

The current situation is also a challenge for Manuel Banha, who had to move his entire "Over the Border" festival to next year. "It is not at all clear whether many of the artists are even allowed to travel here," he says.

"I will only be able to organise one concert for the Local Ambassadors at the Brückenforum." Nevertheless, he does not want to be down in the mouth about it. "I can probably hold a concert again in the Harmonie - and I am simply planning with the numbers currently permitted," says Banha, adding: "I think that you shouldn't be too optimistic right now and assume that in a few months the venues can be filled again. But it doesn't make sense to drown in pessimism and to cancel concerts for example in November due to the currently rising infection rates". (Original text: Thomas Kölsch, Translation: Caroline Kusch)