49,155.

That’s the total number of rugby league die-hards who pulled in at Suncorp Stadium last Wednesday night (18th November) for the State of Origin decider.

Sport is a numbers game. The team or individual with the best numbers, is the winner. Always.

You could argue sport was the winner on Wednesday, a well-worn phrase which fits like some old baggy trousers. Queensland had the best numbers, no doubt about it. The rugby league squad had the best numbers in games one and three, to win the shield.

The Queensland capital had the winning numbers, too. The 49,155 folks that poured into Suncorp Stadium was the biggest number for a post-COVID event, anywhere.

Another number: 29,707.

That’s how many footie fans assembled across town last month at the Gabba for the AFL Grand Final, contested by two Victorian teams and lit by several music performances, including a half-time showcase by local popsters Sheppard.

Sheppard


Those are some mighty big crowds in a pandemic.

Some more numbers: 1,190. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Queensland.

And, 0. The number of new cases. That’s Zero. Zilch. A doughnut.

Right now, Queensland is the lucky state. The sun is out, Qld won the Origin, Brisbane hosted the AFL Final, and huge numbers pulled up for both games.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was declared the most powerful person in sport.

It’s a shame she couldn’t be the most powerful person in live music, too.

Did the music community get lost in the numbers game? Those two football finals sure sent a confusing message to those of us desperate to have our concerts back.

Yes, reduced capacity, socially-distanced COVIDsafe shows have been in play for several months in the capital, and they’re taking place across NSW this month under the “Great Southern Nights” banner.

Venue operators are struggling to break even under those conditions. Artists and crew are just trying to hang on.

Ian Haug of Powderfinger and The Church spoke for all of us with a post to social media after the Origin decider. Why are all those people allowed in a stadium for a sporting fixture but “concerts and plays are limited to less than 1/3 capacity.”

Where are those sweaty, noisy concerts with sticky carpets, bouncing floors. Like the game we saw on Wednesday night.

All of it feels “quite hypocritical,” Haug wrote.

Timing is everything in music and sport. The day after Origin 3, TEG Dainty announced an eight-date Guns N’ Roses trans-Tasman stadium tour, with a show at Suncorp Stadium, the venue for the Maroons’ deciding win.

There’s one small caveat: we’ll have to wait another year for GNR.

Concerts are coming back. Tina Arena and Delta Goodrem will play arenas in the first half of next year, COVIDSafe festivals are happening in W.A., open-air shows are coming to Qld, socially-distanced shows will kick off soon at QUDOS Bank Arena.

But this will be a cruel summer for anyone who works in live music or just loves the stuff.

It’ll be some time before live music experiences the numbers we saw at Origin.