Elbow (Holly Pimlott/Northern Exposure)

Seems you can’t mention Manchesters new Co-op Live Arena without the word ‘troubled’ in the same breath.

Set to open it’s doors almost a month ago, the UK’s now biggest indoor arena has braved a paying crowd for the first time with Manchester’s (well Bury’s) own accomplished rock band, Elbow.

Elbow (Holly Pimlott/Northern Exposure)

It all started in last month, when an already reduced capacity invite only test event featuring Rick Astley faced last minute ticket cancellations after fears about the new venues safety. Fans were understanbly left disappointed by the decision and when the official opening night with Peter Kay on April 23rd was postponed, but there was optimism that American Rock Duo, The Black Keys would open the venue days later. Of course, that wasn’t to be.

Controversy followed the new £365m Manchester arena when Co-op general manager Gary Rosen was forced to resign following derogatory statements made to the BBC. It was suggested smaller venues were similar “poorly run”. The venue expressed their commitment to to he grassroots music scene, however, the venues reputation was now in taters.

The next opening night planned was A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie show on May 1st, but as fans formed queues outside safety inside was pushed again. The gig was off. As we’re many more including American pop-star Olivia Rodrigo who was set to play two back to back nights at the new arena was forced to cancel and reschedule, leaving fans devastated. Veteran pop band Take That were also set to play the new arena, but thankfully were able to move the show to the city’s AO Arena with minimal disruption.

Recentring the official opening day to May 14th, Elbow are set to be credited the honour of opening the UK’s biggest venue.

The bands 10th studio album ‘Audio Vertigo‘ achieved their fourth Number 1 album chart credit, proving the band is just a relevant today as they ever were. Honoured to be shooting this iconic band in a homecoming setting, we wish we could compliment the new Co-op team. Unfortunately, it was a challenging night for our team to even gain access.

“If you don’t know where to go, then why should we know where you should go” , shares one of the stewards on the guest list queue. “Can we speak to a manager?” we ask and bluntly told, there is no manager present. It takes the collective efforts of management team from all three parties to finally be given access to the venue, which unfortunately left us missing out on the support act W AE V E.

Was it a night to remember though? Well yes, it was. Opening with ‘Things I’ve Been Telling Myself For Years’ and ‘Lovers’ Leap’ from their most recent album, Elbow treated fans to a sensational collection of hits from their seasoned music legacy.

The Bury band end on a triumphant high with their most popular hits ‘Magnificent (She Says)‘ and ‘Grounds For Divorce‘ which comes ahead of emotionally charged numbers ‘My Sad Captains’ and ‘Station Approach’. Returning for an encore with ‘Lippy Kids‘ before ending with their best known track ‘On A Day Like This‘. It’s an incredible credit to the band to open such an significant night which will shape the city’s music soundscape for the foreseeable. As for the venue, we’ll put things down to teething problems for now but we’re sure the count will continue to watch the Co-op live arena with critical eyes for some time still.

Elbow will bring their UK leg of the Audio Vertigo tour to an end in Nottingham tonight (15/05) with more dates scheduled for Europe later in the year.

The Black Keys return for their reschedule date tonight (15/05) with many more shows scheduled in the next few weeks. Ticket-holders for Co-op Live shows over the next two weeks – plus the rescheduled Rodrigo shows – will receive a complimentary food and drink item.

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