Barry Manilow may take Co-op Live show to rival arena

Barry Manilow
Manilow said in his statement that he shared fans' concerns about the ongoing status of Co-op Live [BBC]

Barry Manilow has said he has booked another venue as a “back up plan” for his upcoming concert at the Co-op Live arena amid ongoing "technical issues".

The singer said his team had reserved the same date as he was scheduled to play at Manchester's new £365m venue, 19 May, at nearby rival venue, the AO Arena.

Take That and rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie earlier announced a switch to the AO for their concerts which were cancelled.

Oak View Group, which owns the Co-op Live arena, has blamed defects with parts of its ventilation system for recent cancellations.

'We don't know'

The venue said the delays were to allow for "an independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling".

Barry Manilow said in his statement to "dear friends", he shared fans' concerns about the ongoing status of Co-op Live arena.

"Contrary to some opinions, however, we don’t have any double secret inside information on the condition of the building," he said.

The singer assured fans if the concert were to be moved to AO there would be "plenty of room for everybody" because "we limited capacity to 12,500 guests".

"Right now, that’s a big IF. And we don’t know," he added.

The Co-op Live arena
The Co-op Live arena is part of a development around Manchester City's Etihad Stadium [BBC]

Fans spoke of their dismay when a show by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie at the arena was cancelled just minutes after the doors were supposed to open on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Take That announced a switch to AO, saying on X: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we wanted to give our fans as much notice as possible."

US singer Olivia Rodrigo expressed her disappointment when she had her two sold-out gigs at the arena cancelled.

The band Keane, who were scheduled to play on Sunday, also fell foul of the crisis, with the British group, headed by frontman Tom Chaplin, saying they were "absolutely gutted" by the cancellation.

The cancellation was the latest in a series of problems, starting when Co-op Live announced it would not be ready to host comedian Peter Kay's gigs last week, which were due to officially open the new arena.

Meanwhile, Liam Gallagher has joked on X he would play his June shows in a Lidl supermarket if the venue's chaotic opening was still causing problems.

When asked by a fan if the Co-op Live gigs were still going ahead, he said: "I hope so. Surely they'll have it sorted by then."

Olivia Rodrigo in 2023
Olivia Rodrigo fans had been set to travel to the show from across the UK [Reuters]

Lily from Newcastle was supposed to see Olivia Rodrigo on Friday with her girlfriend, best friend and sister, who were travelling from Bath, Cambridge and Bristol.

"If this had been called off weeks ago when it was clear the venue would not be ready, many people would not be in this position, she said.

"I am extremely upset."

Asher Greatorex-Dugan, a university student in Nottingham, said the show was going to be a “concert of a lifetime”, adding it was “a bit disrespectful” to find out it was off through Instagram.

“To have it cancelled this close to the concert has actually broken me.”

Marie Irmie from Wakefield, who was set to take her 11-year-old to the show, said: “It was my daughter’s very first experience of a concert and she has been left in floods of tears."

The Co-operative Group, which is the naming rights sponsor for the venue, said it was "disappointed" by further schedule changes and wanted people to receive proper redress, such as compensation for hotels.

"Co-op is a sponsor and does not own or run the venue, and we have made it clear to Oak View Group, who are responsible for the building, that the impact on ticketholders must be addressed as a priority," a spokesman said.

'Very upset'

Members of the Manchester Arena Support Network, which is a group which helps people affected by the 2017 terror attack, have urged Co-op Live to postpone concerts until the building is ready.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds others were injured after suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a homemade device at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Ruth Leney, who was at Manchester Arena with her daughter on the night of the bombing, said: “If they can’t control what they are doing building-wise, how can they control security?”

She said she was "very upset" about the Take That concert being moved to the AO, saying she and a number of other members "can’t go back to the arena" and would have to miss out on a "massive concert".

Oak View Group boss Tim Leiweke, said Co-op Live was working to rebuild trust after a “huge amount of disruption and frustration”.

He reiterated his "sincerest apologies to everyone affected" and said the firm was working “incredibly hard” to have the building ready for 14 May.

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