05 May 2024

Co-op Live stress will be ‘long forgotten’ once venue opens – concert promoter

05 May 2024

Everyone affected by the Manchester Co-op Live delays is “frustrated and disappointed” but the weeks of stress will be “long forgotten” once the venue opens, a concert promoter has said.

The new £365 million venue has postponed its opening numerous times in the last few weeks due to “technical issues”, causing a string of concerts to be rescheduled or moved to Manchester’s AO Arena.

American rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie played to a packed crowd at AO Arena on Saturday night after his show was cancelled at the last minute on Wednesday, while shows by US singer Olivia Rodrigo and British rockers Keane planned for this weekend at Co-Op Live were postponed.

Discussing the impact of the changes, Stuart Galbraith, the vice chair of the Concert Promoters Association, told the PA news agency: “I think everyone is frustrated and disappointed, but I don’t think anybody is saying that it’s necessarily anybody’s ‘fault’.

“And to be quite frank, after what the live industry and society went through generally during Covid, we can cope with anything.

“On March 16 2020, our entire industry, not just one venue, our entire industry was closed down with 24 hours’ notice for two years, so everybody is very used to rescheduling concerts.”

He explained that buildings, promoters and ticket agents were now “very experienced” at moving shows, with his company rescheduling 350 concerts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I think the building is actually going to be brilliant once it gets up and running properly. The sound was fantastic and the look and feel inside the auditorium was brilliant, the best of any arena that I've been in in recent times

Fans due to attend the affected Co-op Live events, which also included shows by comedian Peter Kay, The Black Keys and Take That, have expressed their frustration at the last-minute changes, as many had already paid for accommodation and made arrangements.

Galbraith said the “inconvenience and stress” on customers had been “awful”, but also noted that the building’s operating team would have felt a great deal of pressure.

“I’m sure that nobody would have wanted the events to be postponed in a way they have been postponed”, he added.

But he said that he felt that in a few months’ time “these few weeks of stress will be long forgotten once they’ve got up and running”.

Asked how he could be sure opinions would change, he explained that this was not the first time he had dealt with venues being delayed in opening.

“Wembley Stadium was a year late opening, I think everyone would agree it’s probably one of our best stadiums in the country”, he said.

The concert promoter was also among those in attendance at the Co-op Live test event with Rick Astley and raved about the experience.

He said: “I think the building is actually going to be brilliant once it gets up and running properly.

“The sound was fantastic and the look and feel inside the auditorium was brilliant, the best of any arena that I’ve been in in recent times.”

On Saturday, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie delivered a high-energy show to thousands at Manchester AO Arena after his gig at the Co-Op Live on Wednesday was cancelled at the last minute due to a “technical issue” during soundcheck.

The announcement came just over an hour before he was due to take to the stage, frustrating many fans who had already arrived at the venue.

It is understood that a nozzle from the ventilation and air conditioning system fell to the ground from the ceiling shortly before the event was due to take place.

His show was later rescheduled and moved to the AO Arena, with Take That later following suit as the boy band moved five shows planned for next week at Co-op Live to the rival Manchester venue.

Meanwhile, Barry Manilow was also considering moving his Manchester performance scheduled for May 19 over to the AO Arena following the cancellations.

On Thursday, British pop rock group Keane, who have been celebrating 20 years of their debut album Hopes And Fears, said they were “really disappointed” as they also revealed the postponement of their gig which had been scheduled for Sunday.

Vampire singer Olivia Rodrigo had been due to perform at the venue on Friday and Saturday as part of her Guts world tour, but the shows were also postponed.

The new music venue has said it will be taking “a short pause to events” before welcoming members of the public to the arena from May 14, when Elbow are due to play.

The statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday said this was to “fully ensure the safety and security of fans and artists” and allow for an “independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling” following an issue with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

It added: “At this time, we do not expect further impact on our opening season.

“We are aware our actions have frustrated and angered ticket holders.

“We know you’ve incurred significant disruption, and are finding a way to help make it right.”

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