Some activity this year, but concert promoters expect big events to return in force here only in 2023

Mayday's gig in December is the only big event that has been confirmed so far since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO: LIVE NATION SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - In December, music fans will be able to rock out with Taiwanese band Mayday at the National Stadium, one of the venues for large-scale concerts in Singapore.

Music concerts made a comeback here in September 2020 when the Singapore Chinese Orchestra performed at the 831-capacity Singapore Conference Hall, but with a restricted audience of just 50. Mayday's gig is the only big event that has been confirmed so far since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Promoter Live Nation Singapore declined to say how many tickets will be available for the show.

In 2018, the group - one of the most popular bands in Mandopop - drew 40,000 at the National Stadium.

Concert organisers told The Straits Times that while they have made tentative bookings for international acts to perform in Singapore this year, they expect big events to return in full force only in 2023.

A spokesman for the Singapore Sports Hub, which includes the National Stadium and Singapore Indoor Stadium, said there is a potential line-up of A-list international artistes this year and next.

"We are engaging with the Government and event organisers on measures and plans to increase allowable capacities at the National Stadium and the Singapore Indoor Stadium in ways that are safe, scalable and economically sensible," the spokesman added.

Lushington Entertainments director Adam Firth said international music acts are keen to perform in Singapore, and there is strong appetite for big concerts here.

"Realistically, I would not expect to see major international tours here until later in the year or into 2023," he said. "Large concerts will start being announced for Singapore quite quickly once there is certainty about the time frame for staging major events, but we are not quite there yet."

Apart from issues such as the lack of insurance coverage for event cancellation and the requirement for pre-event testing for attendees that promoters have to grapple with, the biggest impediment to staging large-scale concerts in Singapore at the moment is the limit on crowd size, something that no longer exists in markets such as the United States and Europe.

Full-capacity audiences sitting side by side are allowed under a pilot by the Ministry of Health the called VDS+Test (vaccination-differentiated safe management measures plus test) scheme. These are currently limited to smaller venues, such as the Esplanade Concert Hall, which seats 1,630.

Unusual Entertainment has plans for "a couple" of big shows and are hoping to stage them in the final quarter of this year. Its assistant marketing director, Ms Koh San Chin, said major gigs are more likely to take place here if the artistes can also secure concerts in other countries in the region.

"The rest of Asia needs to open up at the same pace, without quarantine requirements, or continue to remain open so that economies of scale can be achieved and touring can become financially viable again," she added.

LAMC co-owner Ross Knudson said the return of the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix in October will be "a big indicator" of whether more big concerts will be allowed to take place in Singapore later this year.

The Padang concerts that have been part of F1 in previous years have traditionally been some of the biggest music events in Singapore, with marquee acts such as Ariana Grande and Queen drawing up to 65,000 attendees a night. It is not known if this year's Grand Prix will include similar large-scale gigs again.

Said Mr Knudson: "We have a show that is booked for mid-August. But it honestly doesn't make any sense to even announce it unless we were allowed to have a full-capacity audience."

At least one new major player has entered the local concert business in the past year. European live entertainment company CTS Eventim has based its newly set up Asian wing, Eventim Live Asia, in Singapore and plans to stage concerts here and around the region.

Eventim Live Asia chief executive Jason Miller said Asia is increasingly becoming a priority destination for touring music acts, and that Singapore is one of the key gateways for all growth and activities.

He said: "We expect that Singapore, and the Asia region in general, will be highly trafficked by Western acts once all or at least most of the markets are open without limiting protocols.

"We will be ready to go as soon as Singapore is ready, and everyone feels we can provide world-class entertainment at grand scale and in relative safety for all involved, especially the fans."

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