A Keith Urban concert was declared a mass casualty event at an outdoor venue south of Boston, Massachusetts, Saturday night, when at least 46 people fell ill with what appeared to be alcohol poisoning and 50 fans more were detained by police who made an unspecified number of arrests.
The concert took place at the Xfinity Center, formerly known as Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts, a 20,000-seat amphitheater in the town of Mansfield, about 35 miles southwest of Boston.
At least one fan, a 16-year-old boy, became unresponsive due to an injury, but officials did not say exactly what the injury was and there was no update on the boy’s condition by Sunday afternoon.
The concert was one of the first on the Australian-born country star and American Idol judge’s current Raise ‘Em Up tour. Instead of raising up, fan after fan went down due to what officials said was too much consumption of alcohol at the venue, which combines traditional seating with lawn seats.
It was unclear whether Keith Urban himself was aware of the mass casualty event, which required first-responders from six Massachusetts communities to haul off victims in eight separate ambulances. In a video message to fans posted on YouTube after the concert, he described the situation on the lawn as “nutso,” but also said, “it was so cool!”
What Urban was referring to was not exactly clear, assuming he would not describe an event in which almost 50 of his fans drank themselves sick — with 22 requiring hospitalization — and 50 taken into protective custody as “cool.”
Jacqueline Peterson, a spokesperson for concert promoter Live Nation which also owns the Xfinity Center, did not comment directly on the mass casualty event. According to The Boston Herald, Peterson said that “an overwhelming majority of fans enjoyed the concert.”
About 18,000 people attended the Keith Urban concert.
“The large number of medicals in a shortened time of approximately three hours caused the activation of a phase one EMS plan utilizing ambulances from five mutual aid communities,” said Mansfield police and fire officials in a joint statement. “Police dealt with a steady stream of intoxicated persons as well, resulting in over 50 people being taken into protective custody and a number of others arrested for alcohol-related issues.”
The Keith Urban tour now takes a scheduled break of four days before resuming July 31 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The tour winds up with a concert at the Washington State Fair on September 13.