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Co-op Live: Elbow opens new Manchester arena after venue delays

image caption, Fans queued outside the venue before the doors opened

Manchester’s new Co-op Live arena has finally opened its doors to the public at its fourth attempt, following a series of highly publicized problems and delays that forced it to cancel its first few events.

After shows by Peter Kay, Olivia Rodrigo, Take That and other gigs were canceled or moved, Tuesday’s gig at the Elbow became the first official date on his schedule.

The band received an enthusiastic reception from the public, and the opening of the building seemed to go relatively well.

Most areas were open, although there were issues with long lines to get in and checkouts not working at some self-service stores.

  • Author, Ian Youngs
  • Role, Entertainment and Arts Reporter

After their first song, Elbow frontman Guy Garvey addressed the crowd: “Good evening Manchester! Let’s open this place up properly, shall we?”

He later added: “Everyone who worked on this building was so excited today.

“There was already electricity in the air before you even came in, and now it’s all amplified. I hope you can feel that.”

Co-op Live is the largest indoor arena in the UK, with a maximum capacity of 23,500, and construction costs soared to nearly £450 million.

image caption, Sam Veal traveled from Bedfordshire to Manchester for the show

The opening of the Manchester location is three weeks later than planned and parts of the location are still not complete.

Dozens of construction workers were at the site Tuesday morning, and its boss said it could take another six months to be fully completed.

Nigel Thomas, 58, from Chester, came to the concert with his family, including his son Jake, who flew back from Hong Kong for the occasion.

Elbow has been a special band for the family over the years, Mr Thomas said.

“We love music, but we live in different countries.”

He said he had been following the Co-op Live saga “very closely” in the build-up to the gig.

“We weren’t sure if it would go ahead or if we’d wasted the price of a flight.”

He said there are still some issues, such as getting into the parking lot. “I’d say it’s still not perfect.”

Sam Veal, 51, has seen Elbow around 20 times and traveled from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire for the show.

“I’m not as nervous as I was about the place, but it’s an unknown quantity, isn’t it?

“Someone has to be the first person to open it. So we’ll see how it all goes.”

image caption, Elbow, led by Guy Garvey (pictured in 2021) open the arena

The arena was originally scheduled to be opened by Bolton comedian Peter Kay on 23 April, but his shows were rescheduled twice because it was not ready.

A concert by rock band The Black Keys was also postponed, and a planned new opening concert by American rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was then canceled at the last minute as thousands of his fans waited outside.

That’s because part of the ventilation system, which had not been properly screwed to the ceiling of the auditorium, fell to the floor shortly before the doors opened.

“If it had happened 15 minutes later, something catastrophic could have happened,” Tim Leiweke, chief executive of Co-op operator Live Oak View Group, told the BBC’s entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson earlier.

video subtitling, Co-Op Live boss tells BBC the arena will be the safest in the world

Mr Leiweke said there was “no way” he could have known that one of the 95 prefabricated filters had not been installed correctly.

“They didn’t put the screws. It was not visible to the eye,” he said. – And it fell.

He sought to reassure fans that since they have “checked and double-checked” the system. “We’re looking at thousands of screws up in that ceiling now.”

He claimed it was now “the safest building in the world” and said it was common for there to be an extensive list of items that needed to be completed even after a building opened.

“This building is going to evolve over a period of time. I guess for the next six months, we’re going to have guys come in here and work on that punch list.”

He said the disruption to fans caused by the shows being dropped was “the thing that upsets me the most and makes me feel the worst”.

Kay is set to play his rescheduled shows next week, while Take That and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie have moved their gigs to Manchester’s rival AO Arena.

Mr Leiweke said the venue was still “trying to lock down” new dates for Rodrigo.

After Elbow, the next shows on the schedule are the rearranged concert of The Black Keys, followed by Eric Clapton and Barry Manilow.