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Fans react as Manchester’s Co-Op Live finally opens with Elbow “christening” arena with hometown gig 

Fans have been reacting to Manchester’s Co-Op Live venue finally opening with a homecoming performance from Elbow.

The venue – which has a capacity of 23,500 and is the biggest indoor arena in the UK – has been plagued by issues over recent months, and has experienced countless delays when it comes to opening.

Originally, the arena was set to open officially three weeks ago with an opening gig from comedian Peter Kay, however this, along with many other planned shows, were postponed at the last minute.

Now, the venue has finally opened its doors to the public and seen Elbow become the first act to complete a scheduled date in the venue’s calendar.

Guy Garvey and co. received an enthusiastic response from the crowd last night (May 14) and made references to the long-running issues that have loomed over Co-Op Live in recent weeks.

“Good evening Manchester! Let’s open this venue properly shall we?,” the frontman said at the beginning of the gig, opening with ‘Things I’ve Been Telling Myself For Years’. “Everybody who’s been working on this building has been so excited today – so nervous and so excited.”

Garvey added: “There was already electricity in the air before you lot got in here, and now it’s thoroughly amped up. I hope you can feel it.”

From there, the band launched into various fan favourites from across their catalogue, including ‘Balu’, ‘Lover’s Leap’ and ‘Grounds For Divorce’, before closing off the gig with ‘One Day Like This’.

“What do we make of this amazing room everybody? How do you feel about christening it?” Garvey said midway through the gig, making reference to the delays in the run-up to the show.

“We’re extremely very proud – thanks for helping us do it. We’d look really stupid if you hadn’t shown up.” Find more footage of the gig below.

As aforementioned, the arena was supposed to open with comedian Peter Kay on April 23 and 24. However, following a test event featuring Rick Astley on April 22, his gigs were pushed back to the end of April with the venue citing technical issues.

Later, a gig from The Black Keys that was scheduled for April 27 had to be moved to May 15, and the Peter Kay shows were moved for the second time. They are now expected to be held on May 23 and 24. Following the second postponement, Kay shared a statement with fans, explaining that he was left “disappointed” by the news.

Initially, organisers ensured those with tickets that all other shows scheduled for the new venue would be going ahead as planned. However, they announced on Wednesday (May 1) that A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie‘s show was cancelled following a “venue-related technical issue”. Shortly afterwards, they also axed Olivia Rodrigo’s upcoming gigs – which left her “so disappointed” – as well as shows by Keane and Take That, with the latter relocating their dates to the rival AO Arena.

Following the chaos, Co-Op Live addressed these cancellations in a formal statement and explained that the decisions were made to ensure the safety of concertgoers after a fault was found in the ceiling.

Unsurprisingly, the slew of issues facing the arena led to music lovers coming forward to express their frustration at the postponements, and branded the venue as “Manchester’s own Fyre Festival”.

They also took to social media last night to share their thoughts on the arena finally opening its doors – nearly a month after the initial start date.

“Quite the ending to the first gig here at Co-op Live. Guy Garvey talked about the palpable electricity in the venue earlier and with that last song you could definitely feel it,” said one concertgoer on X/Twitter.

Another added: “Can now forever say I was the first gig at Co-op Live. I’ve never encountered a better band lyrically than Elbow. It’s a night of pure poetry”, while a third agreed: “So far it’s not been cancelled. So far no part of the building has fallen off/down. So far the Wi-fi works great. So far so good.”

Find more fan responses below.

At first, organisers insisted they were “not embarrassed” by the postponements, and instead focused on getting the venue up to scratch. However, just days later, news broke that Gary Roden, the boss of the new arena, had resigned amid the controversy.

Ahead of his resignation, Roden had come under fire for his comments about grassroots music venues, in which he argued that some smaller venues in the UK are “poorly run” and dismissed calls for a £1 ticket levy on all gigs arena-sized and above.

In response, Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust (MVT), told NME that he believed Roden’s comments were “disrespectful and disingenuous”, while also highlighting the irony of making such “ill-judged, unnecessary and misleading” remarks on the week that his venue was forced to postpone its launch.

Later, the MVT said the new Co-Op Live Arena is “a great idea” but has urged bosses to “work in a way that secures the future of live music”.

Other acts scheduled to perform at the Co-Op Live in Manchester include The Black Keys, Eric Clapton, Nicki Minaj, Eagles, Pet Shop Boys, Liam Gallagher and The Killers.

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