The show must go on — from the living room
NEW YORK — The spreading coronavirus canceled several touring performances from A-list musical artists, but those acts have found a new venue to sing: their living rooms.
John Legend, Bono, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Pink, John Mayer, Keith Urban and more have held virtual concerts from their homes as the world continues to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.
“I mean, we don’t normally do concerts live from our house in a robe,” Legend told The Associated Press late Tuesday, hours after performing a nearly hourlong concert which streamed on Facebook and Instagram Live. “This is a cool way to connect with people and make them feel some kind of love and intimacy and connection, even though they have to be stuck at home.”
“So many people are dealing with a lot of stress right now, trauma, anxiety, all those things. And they don’t know what to do. And a lot of musicians and artists and entertainers are unable to go out and do the thing that we do best, which is perform live at venues with lots of people,” he added. “So we’re trying to find ways to stay in touch with people and give them some love.”
The piano-playing superstar took requests from fans as he crooned from his living room like he does at one of his typical live concerts. Legend’s performance was in support of the World Health Organization’s newly launched online concert series “Together at Home,” created in efforts to fight the coronavirus, which causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people but can be severe in some cases, especially older adults and people with existing health problems. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may need six weeks to recover.
Others have found creative ways to communicate with their fans, some homebound because of school closings and others working from home.
Live: Miley Cyrus launched a daily Instagram live talk show called “Bright Minded: Live with Miley” (2:30 p.m. Eastern) to offer viewers some positivity and comfort. Tuesday’s show featured singer-actress Demi Lovato, and Wednesday’s program had Amy Schumer and her husband, Chris Fischer, as well as Lauren Speed and Cameron Hamilton from the popular Netflix reality series, “Love Is Blind.”
Rolling Stone magazine, which closed its offices like many companies to prevent the virus from spreading, will launch the new IGTV performance series “In My Room” on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern. It will feature Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys performing “In My Room” as well as other classic songs; episodes will be released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Brandon Flowers of The Killers tweeted a video of him washing his hands while singing the band’s signature hit, “Mr. Brightside,” while Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted a live video of him performing an unreleased “Hamilton” song. And a tweet from Netflix editorial manager Jasmyn Lawson on Monday led to a virtual watch party for Beyoncé’s epic “HOMECOMING” documentary, to take place Wednesday.
“We’ve never been in this type of space before, and it’s really incredible to see artists coming together to figure out ways that they can bring joy and comfort and happiness to their fans given this crazy time that we’re living in at the moment,” said Kevin O’Donnell, Twitter’s head of music partnerships. “I think the creativity is just going to even ramp up even more.”
Former One Direction singer Niall Horan, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Rob Thomas, JoJo, Christine and the Queens, Yungblud, David Foster and Katharine McPhee have also joined the music community by livestreaming directly to fans. Neil Young is even planning to jump on board.
YouTube: Former “Glee” actor and singer Chord Overstreet launched a live performance series on YouTube appropriately called “Quarantine Sessions” this week, while OneRepublic isn’t only performing, they’re offering cooking lessons on social media. And some acts are even performing from venues: Grammy-nominated rock band Code Orange livestreamed their performance to an empty Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh via Twitch this weekend.
Other acts stuck indoors are finding ways to promote new albums or make up for canceled and postponed shows.
The canceled Luck Reunion festival, annually held in Willie Nelson’s backyard, will now go Thursday (7 p.m. Eastern) as a free broadcast featuring call-in sets filmed live by artists themselves from their own homes. Performers include Lukas Nelson, Jewel, Nathaniel Rateliff, Margo Price and more.
Latin superstars Juanes and Alejandro Sanz, whose concerts were postponed because of the virus, joined forces for a special streaming jam session in Miami this weekend, while Broadway stars are putting on twice-a-day concerts called “Stars in the House.” And alternative rock-pop band Grouplove and singer-songwriter Caitlyn Smith, who both released albums Friday and had tour plans in support of the albums scraped, are livestreaming performances.
On the move: The rock trio X Ambassadors have been bouncing around the world as several of their concert dates were canceled due to the virus. First was China. Then Milan. And while setting up in Poland for a performance, they were told to shut down. They made it home to Los Angeles on Thursday as President Donald Trump announced a travel ban.
Sam Nelson Harris of the band said the experience was traumatic, stressful and chaotic. And as he settles in, he’s hoping to give his fans a cool experience from home.
“I’m pretty conservative when it comes to my use of Instagram and I haven’t posted a single TikTok video, but I got all this time now to really figure out how to interact with it in a way that’s genuine for me. And because I really do want to reach out to our fans and to people who have not been able to come see us because of cancellations that we had to make during the pandemic,” said Harris, who has posted live performances from home on Instagram this week.
X Ambassadors have hit the Top 20 of the pop charts with “Unsteady,” “Renegades” and “Sucker for Pain” and the group — which includes drummer Adam Levin and Harris’ brother, keyboardist Casey Harris — have produced multiple songs on Lizzo’s Grammy-winning album “Cuz I Love You.”
“I have enough here at my house that I could do something on my own from scratch,” Harris said of making music from his home. “And what I’m actively doing right now is reaching out to other producers and songwriters and trying to get people to be sending stuff back and forth. I know a lot of musicians who are out of work right now, and who will be out of work for a while, so I want to try and get people involved with making music together, even though we can’t actually be there together in person.”
Releases? Legend, who has been working on new music, may still release the songs this spring while folks are homebound.
“I have a bunch of new music that’s already almost done. We just have to mix it, which won’t require a lot of group contact. So, I think we can get a lot of that out to people sooner rather than later,” he said.
“We have to decide as a music community if we’re going to let the fact that we can’t go out and physically promote it stop us from putting it out. And I tend to think we should put stuff out.”
Legend is also in the middle of figuring out if his U.S. tour, which is expected to launch in August, will still go on.
The Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner compared current times to a film when aliens attack and “the whole earth comes together.”
“This is one of those things that all of us are facing as a global community. And it doesn’t discriminate based on what nation we live in or what race we are. And we have to come together as a community and do what we need to do to help each other get through it,” he said.