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A GIG DEAL No booze and strict social distancing at Ireland's first concert in over 15 months


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Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens in Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens in Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

James Vincent McMorrow on stage in Iveagh Gardens

James Vincent McMorrow on stage in Iveagh Gardens

Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

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Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens in Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

SOCIAL distancing pods, face masks, and a lack of booze - the first gig in Ireland since the beginning of the pandemic was very different from the crowded concerts of the pre-Covid world.

But as the sun shone down on Dublin's Iveagh Gardens yesterday, life felt somewhat normal again as friends laughed with one another and danced in their pods of four.

The atmosphere was calm but buzzing at the same time. It was well organised and as one reveller said, they "felt safe".

As I walked inside, the first thing I was surprised at were the pods. They were not the metal stands that I expected from viewing pilot events in other countries.

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Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

Concert goers enjoying Ireland's first live gig since the Covid 19 pandemic at Iveagh Gardens Dublin. (Pic: Mark Condren)

They were just patches of green grass spaced out with poles and rope - much less intimidating.

The opening act, Sorcha Richardson, described perfectly what the first pilot gig in Ireland was like.

"It feels like Sunday 1pm at a festival," she said. "But I don't think you're hungover."

Not only were the lucky 500 who managed to nab tickets for the first live concert most likely not hungover, but they were also not drunk.

There was no alcohol for sale at this pilot event, and for a nation of drinkers I thought people would be upset - but anyone I spoke to was just elated to listen to a bit of live music. After all, it had been almost 500 days since any of us had been to a gig.

Julie from Wicklow said she was delighted to have scored tickets for the event.

"It feels weird," she said about being at the first gig since the pandemic. "It's a bit overwhelming, but we are so happy. They've done an amazing job, it's really safe, I feel really safe."

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And she was not wrong, it did feel safe.

To control the number of people entering the grounds, staggered times were given on individual tickets and for contact tracing purposes, the person who bought the ticket had to be the one attending.

Inside, everyone had to wear masks while going to their pod, going to the toilet or buying food, and once inside the pods, masks could be taken off.

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James Vincent McMorrow on stage in Iveagh Gardens

James Vincent McMorrow on stage in Iveagh Gardens

James Vincent McMorrow on stage in Iveagh Gardens

As soon as the headline act, singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow, took to the stage every single person stood up and roared.

"I've never been as nervous for anything in my entire life," he declared. "It's been a long time since people have got to hear songs in a field with other people. It's been a hard year.

"It's been so hard to have music taken away but it's so good to have it back. Clap for the time we've lost together."

And clap we did.

Before singing his gorgeous single Higher Love, he started with an upbeat tune.

The first song captured the mood of the night perfectly - fun, but not crazy, with a whole lot of hope.

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