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Manchester’s Co-op Live arena finally opens after weeks of cancellations and setbacks | UK News

Manchester’s beleaguered Co-op Live arena has finally officially opened its doors after weeks of setbacks, cancellations and postponements.

The venue was initially due to fully open with two Peter Kay stand-up shows on 23 and 24 April, but these dates were pushed back when problems emerged at a test event headlined by Ricky Astley.

The Co-op Live’s new opening night was then due to be 1 May when US act A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie should have performed – but this was cancelled at the last minute as fans queued outside.

In the fortnight since, numerous other acts have been forced to postpone or move their Co-Op Live gigs but the doors have finally opened to fans, with Manchester band Elbow taking to the stage this evening.

The show is due to start at 7.40pm, with London band The WAEVE as the support act, and people have been seen going into the venue.

Concert goers arriving at the Co-op Live in Manchester for the Elbow concert. The troubled arena said it has completed an inspection and will open after a string of delays.  Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Co-op Live bosses said inspections have taken place ahead of tonight’s gig. Pic: PA

Concert goers arriving at the Co-op Live in Manchester for the Elbow concert. The troubled arena said it has completed an inspection and will open after a string of delays. Pic: PA
More than two weeks after Co-op Live should have fully opened, concertgoers are finally inside. Pic: PA

Guy Garvey of the band Elbow performs at the Platinum Jubilee concert in 2022. Pic: AP
Elbow’s Guy Garvey. File pic: AP

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s last-minute cancellation came after part of the venue’s ventilation and air conditioning system fell from the ceiling during a soundcheck.

The venue’s boss said today that the accident could have been “catastrophic” if it had happened just 15 minutes later.

Read more: All the Co-op Live gigs cancelled or postponed

Security screening zone at the Co-op Live in Manchester for the Elbow concert. The troubled arena said it has completed an inspection and will open after a string of delays.  Tuesday May 14, 2024. Pic: PA
Security staff were ready to welcome the 23,500 attendees. Pic: PA

PABest A view of the Co-op Live arena in Manchester. The £365 million venue, the biggest indoor arena in the UK, has postponed its opening numerous times after rescheduling performances from Peter Kay, The Black Keys, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, as well as shows by Olivia Rodrigo scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. Picture date: Thursday May 2, 2024.
Pic: PA

Tim Leiweke, chief executive of the arena’s operator Oak View Group, told BBC News: “They didn’t put the bolts in. It wasn’t visible to the eye and it fell out.

“So we [have since] got that double checked and triple checked. We’ve looked at thousands of bolts up in that ceiling now. We’ve looked at the life safety lines. And we were going to take our time to make sure we did this right.

“There was no way we were opening the doors until we checked every screw and every bolt and every one of those 95 shafts.”

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Co-Op Live delays explained

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A number of Elbow fans at the venue admitted they were feeling “apprehensive” ahead of the gig.

“When you go anywhere you want to know about the structural integrity of the place you’re going to,” said Samantha, 51, who did not want to share her surname.

“I know all venues have to start somewhere but as long as they say everything is fine, that’s as reassuring as it can be.”

With a capacity of 23,500, Co-op Live is the UK’s latest indoor arena and it cost £365m to build.

Calls for arena ticket levy and tax relief to stop music venue closure ‘crisis’ | Politics News

A cut in VAT and a new levy on arena and stadium tickets are urgently needed to stop grassroots music venues from closing, MPs have said.

A report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee said artists are facing a “cost-of-touring crisis”, with venues stopping live music or closing entirely at a rate of two per week.

The cross-party inquiry heard from the Music Venues Trust (MVT), which said 2023 has been the most challenging year for the sector since the organisation was founded in 2014, while Creative UK said the grassroots music sector took a “battering”.

In total the number of grassroots music venues (GMVs) declined from 960 to 835 last year, a net decrease of 13%, representing a loss of as many as 30,000 shows and 4,000 jobs.

The closures come against a backdrop of spiralling costs due to rising rents and energy bills, while audiences are cutting back on expenditure due to the economic climate.

There has also been a behaviour shift among younger people, who are spending less on food and alcohol.

The report calls for a temporary VAT cut based on venue capacity to “stimulate grassroots music activity and help the sector through the current closure crisis”.

The committee has also recommended a widespread voluntary levy on arena and stadium tickets to be in place no later than September, which should be used to create a support fund for venues, artists and promoters and not be passed on to music fans.

MPs said that if there is no agreement by September or if it fails to collect enough income to support the sector, the government should step in to introduce a statutory levy.

‘Music faces a bleak future’

Dame Caroline Dinenage, chairwoman of the committee, said: “We are grateful to the many dedicated local venues who gave up their time to take part in our inquiry.

“They delivered the message loud and clear that grassroots music venues are in crisis.

“The ongoing wave of closures is not just a disaster for music, performers and supporters in local communities up and down the country, but also puts at risk the entire live music ecosystem.

“If the grassroots, where musicians, technicians, tour managers and promoters hone their craft, are allowed to wither and die, the UK’s position as a music powerhouse faces a bleak future.”

Read more:
At least one grassroots music venue closing per week
Warning of closures as venues face price hikes
Is this the death of the big night out?

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On top of immediate financial help through a levy-funded support fund and a targeted temporary VAT cut, the report says a comprehensive fan-led review of live and electronic music should be set up this summer to examine the long-term challenges to the wider live music ecosystem.

The UK music industry brings billions of pounds into the economy, attracting both domestic and international tourists to live events.

Pic: AP
British popstar Adele started out in grassroots venues. Pic: AP

But festivals, electronic music venues, academies and arenas “are not insulated from the impacts” of the crisis and “promoters are less able to put on shows or make them financially viable”, MPs warned.

The report was welcomed by industry figures, though Mark Davyd, chief executive and founder of the MVT, said it has “taken much longer than any of us would have liked to get the positive change we all wanted to see”.

The trust – which represents more than 900 grassroots music venues across the UK – has previously voiced concerns that emerging artists with the potential to be the next Ed Sheeran or Adele – both of whom started out playing in grassroots venues – could find their careers cut off at ground level, never realising their full potential.

Man arrested after allegedly dressing as Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi for Halloween | UK News

A man has been arrested for allegedly dressing up as the Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi for Halloween.

It comes after pictures appeared online of a man wearing an Arabian-style headdress and a T-shirt that said “I love Ariana Grande”, along with a backpack with the words “boom” and “TNT” written on it.

Abedi detonated a bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, killing himself and 22 people – including seven children.

Read more:
Timeline: Manchester bomber was on MI5’s radar more than 20 times
The victims of the attack, remembered by their loved ones

North Yorkshire Police confirmed it had detained a suspect after receiving complaints from members of the public about “a man wearing an offensive costume”.

The force added in a statement: “The man was arrested on 1 November on suspicion of a number of offences including using a public communication network to send offensive messages.

“He remains in police custody for questioning at this time.”