As Sam Fender put it, Geordies are 'making history' by keeping live music alive during the summer of 2020.
With scores of gigs and festivals cancelled due to the pandemic - including arguably Sam's biggest show to date at Newcastle Arena - Tyneside-based event organisers SSD Concerts hatched an ambitious plan to create a social distancing-friendly venue.
SSD's vision came to light this week when he opened the Virgin Money Unity Arena at Newcastle Racecourse on Tuesday. Sam was back on Thursday night for the second of his two sold-out shows at the venue.
The set-up has had its detractors. Instead of freedom to roam and dance in a general standing area, ticketholders must watch the performances from their reserved viewing platform in groups of up to five. There are plenty on social media who are keen to let everybody know that it will never compare to the concerts and festivals which could not go ahead due to the pandemic.
To them, I'd say, give it a try. Surely, as long as you feel safe to attend, then taking in a live performance while sat or stood with your friends or family is surely better than stewing at home, wishing it was the summer of 2019 and raining on the parade of those who chose to support the initiative or at least try it out with an open mind. Those who feel claustrophobic or anxious at tightly-squeezed gigs may even prefer this format.
Yes, it's not the same. It was never going to be. But why compare the Virgin Money Unity Arena to gigs and festivals arranged when organisers did not have to worry about a pandemic?
It is what you - and perhaps crucially - what the artist make of it. To Sam Fender's credit, he approached the idea with enthusiasm and had the guts to be the first big name to play to a socially distanced crowd. Furthermore, the North Shields native made the most of it, put on a great show and proved his versatility.
The venue has a similar capacity, around 2,500, to the O2 Academy, which was packed to the rafters in the winter when Sam last performed there. The crowd at Gosforth Park was the same size but spaced-out over a large field.
Sam managed to keep a sense of intimacy by engaging with the audience throughout his hour-and-a-half set, offering anecdotes about his life, band, material and the strange situation we all found ourselves in.
"I want to see some five-man mosh pits in your little pens," the former John Spence pupil joked before launching into 'Spice'.
There were sing-a-longs to 'Saturday' and 'Poundshop Kardashians', an uptempo extended version of 'Borders' and a genuinely touching moment where the 26-year-old switched to his dad's guitar to perform a new song. A slight mishap with some pyrotechnics was laughed off, Piers Morgan was slated and Sam announced he was impressed by the history-making venue, while acknowledging socially distanced gigs are a temporary measure.
From what I could see - which was only a portion of the arena as you're not allowed to walk around the entire venue - distancing was maintained as much as possible. Hand sanitiser was readily available and ticketholders were asked to wear masks, other than when they are at their platforms. A few times, I saw security moving people on who had decided to wander.
It won't always be perfect, but neither will going shopping, getting a Metro for a non-essential journey or going to the pub. If those things are allowed, it seems fair live music is given its chance - and somebody had to be the first to try it.
If you feel comfortable attending an event, then consider giving a show at the Virgin Money Unity Arena a try. It might be your only chance to see something this year. Not only that, but the North East is home to something truly innovative.
"This is the best city on planet earth", Geordie boy Fender announced towards the end of his set.
"No one will tell us otherwise."