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Manchester’s beleaguered Co-Op Live arena has finally opened

Elbow were given the honours of opening the issue-prone Manchester venue.

By Nick Reilly

Elbow perform the inaugural live show at Co-op Live on May 14, 2024 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)

Manchester’s Co-Op Live venue has finally opened with a homecoming performance from Elbow.

The venue – the UK’s biggest indoor arena with a capacity of 23,500 – has been plagued by a string of delays and issues surrounding its opening over the last month.

It was supposed to open with two gigs from Peter Kay on April 23 and 24. But when technical issues arose at a test event featuring Rick Astley on April 22, his gigs were pushed back to the end of April – before being postponed for a second time.

Things got even worse when The Black Keys were forced to postpone shows at the venue, before a gig from US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was cancelled due to a “venue-related technical issue” after doors for the venue had already opened.

While recent weeks have seen Olivia Rodrigo axing her planned gigs at the venue, it was Elbow who delivered the venue’s opening gig last night (May 15).

“Good evening Manchester! Let’s open this venue properly shall we?” frontman Guy Garvey told the crowd, later adding: “Everybody who’s been working on this building has been so excited today – so nervous and so excited.”

Logistics wise, the BBC reports that there was minor issues with self-service food and drinks tills and venue parking, though these are described as “quibbles” in comparison to what went before.

At another point in the gig, Garvey told the crowd: “What do we make of this amazing room everybody? How do you feel about christening it?”

It was also noted that Manchester City Council has received documents of safety reassurance from the venue, after pipework previously fell from the venue’s ventilation pipes just 15 minutes before doors were set to open for a gig.

Last month saw venue boss Gary Roden step down from his role after he was criticised for comments he made about grassroots venues, criticising a planned £1 ticket levy on arena gigs to help support struggling small venues.