In any year, the line-up assembled for Global Citizen’s Vax Live concert – filmed on Sunday night to be televised next weekend – would be an impressive one: performances from Jennifer Lopez, Foo Fighters, J Balvin, Eddie Vedder and HER interspersed with speeches from Prince Harry, Selena Gomez, Ben Affleck, Jimmy Kimmel, Chrissy Teigen and David Letterman. In May 2021, it represents something even more significant: the first time live music has been played in front of a mass audience in LA County since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year.
If you were looking for an ideal venue to signify a fresh beginning, the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood would be it. The $5bn new home for Los Angeles’ NFL teams the Rams and the Chargers had been scheduled to open last July with a pair of Taylor Swift concerts. After the pandemic put paid to those best-laid plans, the stadium finally opened for NFL games in September but as yet, they’ve all taken place behind closed doors. That made Vax Live’s invited audience of 27,000 key frontline workers – a fraction of the 70,000 capacity – the first crowd to ever enter the suitably futuristic stadium, which resembles a giant stainless-steel cross-section of an internet router. As Letterman put it from the stage: “Honest to God, I’ve never been in a spaceport before. You could play football in here!”