CBC News : 3 ways artists are returning to live shows amid COVID-19

‘Keep everybody safe while still bringing everybody together, while still keeping everybody apart’

Jessica Wong · CBC News ·

In mid-March, as Brett Kissel wrapped up a concert with Brad Paisley in Saskatchewan, concern about the coronavirus pandemic was already on the Canadian country star’s mind.

“We are going to soak this in and cherish this moment for all it’s worth,” the Alberta singer-songwriter recalls telling the crowd in Moose Jaw that night, as he stood alongside Paisley.

“We don’t know the next time we’re gonna get a chance to come back here and be with you all.”

He was headed next to Sasktoon for the Juno Awards but touched down to learn they had been cancelled and, over the next few weeks, watched as every gig set for the rest of the year evaporated.

“This will be the last thing that people will bring back because … we bring tens of thousands of people together to experience this, shoulder to shoulder, whether it’s in a club or whether it’s in a theatre or an arena or a gigantic outdoor festival. And this is what spreads the virus,” Kissel said.

Though Canadians have turned to music to help them through the pandemic, many feel reluctant about assembling to watch live shows again, even as Canadian provinces and territories begin lifting restrictions.

An April online survey of 2,500 Canadians 18 and over conducted for Music Canada, which represents music labels, found 43 per cent of respondents said it would take six months or more before they would feel comfortable going to a concert in a large venue while 26 per cent said they may never feel comfortable going again.

Nonetheless, a host of entertainers are returning to live, in-person performances and demonstrating how with flexibility, a raft of new safety measures, artistic ingenuity and a whole lot of hustle, the show can go on amid the pandemic.

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