What will the first concert at the Palau Sant Jordi be like?

Guitar Bcn asks for the removal of the 1,000 spectator cap for Carlos Sadness' concert in March

3 min
The Sant Jordi Palace

BarcelonaPausa by Izal, was the last song to be performed live at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. That was on 29 February 2020 and they were accompanied by a luxury guest, Enrique Bunbury. Then the speakers played Man on the moon while the audience was leaving and, after that, eleven and a half months of silence. Now, the Guitar Bcn Festival wants to reopen the Sant Jordi with a Carlos Sadness concert on March 20, one of the highlights of a programme presented on Thursday at the Sala Barts in an act in which Joan Roselló, CEO of promoter The Project and director of the festival, defended presential culture and has asked the Procicat to withdraw the cap of 1,000 spectators for the Palau Sant Jordi. "If the Sant Jordi Club, the Liceu or the Palau de la Música can hold concerts for 1,000 people, why not more than 1,000 at the Palau Sant Jordi, which is three, five or eight times bigger and is taller and has more doors? We want to hold a concert for 3,500 people keeping a safe distance, wearing masks and whatever else is needed".

Barcelona musician Carlos Sadness in an archive image

Roselló spoke bitterly of the Wizink Center, "the most similar venue to the Sant Jordi in Madrid", which has had a regular programme of concerts for months. "The problem we have here is that the rules are being decided by people who seem not to have been to a to a concert in their life, at least certainly haven't organised one" said Roselló. "Let them come down to Earth and talk to the industry. We understand that they have to set limits, but they can count on us to establish them rationally". The safety of organising concerts in the Palau Sant Jordi would stem from the specificity of the space, which according to the director of the Anilla Olímpica, Carme Lanuza, is "unique in Catalonia" in terms of natural ventilation thanks to its nearly 60 upper doors (at roof level) and 40 lower doors: "But we also have an automatic ventilation system that renews all the air in the Palau Sant Jordi every fifteen minutes".

Separate groups of between 600 and 700 people

The size of the Sant Jordi would also be an ally when it comes to establishing security protocols at the entrances thanks to the large number of doors it has. In addition to the usual health protocols, at the Carlos Sadness concert there will be a sectorial division of the audience into different sectors of between 600 and 700 people, so that neither at the entrances nor during the concert can there be any contact between two spectators from different sectors. "People will have to go to the door on their ticket, where their temperature will be checked, etc. Each group will also have separate toilets," explains Lanuza, who also stresses that the Palau Sant Jordi is easily accessibly by car, bike or on foot.

And what will happen if the cap does not end up dropping below 1,000 spectators? In this case, Roselló is clear: the Carlos Sadness concert would go ahead but not in the Palau Sant Jordi, but in other smaller venue that make more sense for a concert for 1,000 people. Be that as it may, the final decision will be taken by Procicat in a week or two. "We've been talking to them for months and we understand that between now and 20 March this limitation could change, at least for the Sant Jordi," says Roselló. "We are talking about 3,500 people, an unambitious figure and that does not reach 20% of the 18,000 that fit in the Sant Jordi. If this one goes well, maybe we can consider doing concerts of 5,000 or 6,000 spectators. But it is clear that with 3,500 we should be allowed to do it".

From Zucchero to Pau Vallvé

Guitar BCN will offer around sixty concerts starting this Friday with Xoel López's concert in the Palau de la Música. Other participating artists include Iván Ferreiro, Zucchero, Nouvelle Vague, Los Secretos, Joan Miquel Oliver, Second, Coque Malla, Mala Rodríguez, Kevin Johansen, Danny Ocean, Ferran Palau and Pau Vallvé, who will play three concerts at Sala Barts. Last year, 44.000 spectators went to the concerts despite the restrictions, with ticket sales of 92% of seats. Roselló hopes this year will be even better.