Huge UK concerts amid pandemic leave netizens in China stunned

PHOTO: Instagram/billboard_ina

Chinese social media users have been left stunned after seeing images of large-scale concerts held by Welsh band the Stereophonics that went ahead in the UK despite the country's escalating coronavirus crisis.

Although concerts have been cancelled throughout China and the rest of Asia for months, and large festivals such as Coachella and South by Southwest called off in the United States, the Stereophonics performed in Manchester last Friday, and in Cardiff last Saturday and Sunday, packing tens of thousands of people into the shows.

Internet users in China expressed shock when a clip from one of the Cardiff shows was posted to Weibo, leaving comments such as "I have no words, I wish them well", "The UK is going to catch up to Italy in no time" and "Don't ask for China's help when things start to get bad. You got yourself into this mess."

Even many fans of the band were surprised that the shows went ahead as Britain's confirmed coronavirus cases were approaching 2,000 and 60 people had died in the country.

The Stereophonics concert post on Weibo that shocked Chinese internet users. PHOTO: Weibo

An image from the Manchester show posted on the band's official Facebook page, with the caption "Thank you Manchester", attracted comments such as "I love Stereophonics but this is just irresponsible" and "These progressive countries can't believe a crisis can happen to them".

The Welsh band defended their decision to go ahead with the concerts in a statement to British music magazine the NME.

Thank you Manchester! #stereophonics #kind2020tour

Posted by Stereophonics on Friday, March 13, 2020

"Along with the rest of the country, we watched the prime minister and chief science and medical officer brief the nation on Thursday evening regarding the government's policy and advice on coronavirus. The UK government's position was that at this phase there was no need for a ban on large public gatherings."

"Acting on this guidance, we continued with the last three shows of our UK tour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as did many other events across the entertainment industry."

Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi has also come under fire for going ahead with a live show in Aberdeen, Scotland, on Sunday night. A representative for the performer said: "The final show of Lewis' UK arena tour… went ahead in full compliance with the advisory document on mass gatherings issued by the Scottish government at 1pm on the same day."

However, other British bands such as Blossoms and Idles have postponed events and tours across the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.