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Arena attack: Shows axed as premiums set to rise

Take That at the Echo Arena, the debut Amazon Prime show with Blondie and London's Radio Festival have all been postponed in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing

By Jon Chapple on 23 May 2017

Take That, Wonderland tour 2017, Liverpool Echo Arena, Manchester Arena bombing

Take That have cancelled their show in Liverpool tonight

image © Take That/supplied

British venues and promoters have been left counting the cost of last night’s deadly bombing at the Manchester Arena, with a spate of cancellations, questions over security and the threat of a spike in the cost of insurance cover.

The launch of Amazon’s much-heralded Prime Live Events concert series is among the most high-profile events to have been put on hold. As a “mark of respect”, the Blondie show at the 750-capacity Round Chapel tonight has been postponed.

“Out of a mark of respect for the victims of the terrible attack at Manchester Arena last night, Amazon and Blondie will not go ahead with the Prime Live Event scheduled for tonight at the Round Chapel in Hackney, London,” an Amazon spokesperson tells IQ. “We are working together with Blondie to reschedule the event, and we will communicate details to customers as soon as possible.”

Take That have also cancelled their planned concert at the Liverpool Echo Arena tonight “out of respect to all of the people and their families that were affected by the horrific incident” in Manchester, the band say in a statement.

The three-piece are due to play further dates at Manchester Arena later this week; it is not yet known whether those shows will go ahead.

Elsewhere in Manchester, Simple Minds at the Bridgewater Hall (2,400-cap.), Homeshake at Gorilla (700-cap.) and Priests at Gullivers (100-cap.) will all go ahead tonight.

At The O2 in London, meanwhile, Ariana Grande – who was performing at Manchester Arena the night of the bombing – is, at the time of writing, still booked to play on 25 and 26 May, while Iron Maiden have confirmed their 27–28 May dates will go ahead.

“The mood in Manchester is one of defiance: people are thinking, ‘We’re just going to get on with it'”

The most significant festival cancellation so far is Radio Festival, a radio/audio convention backed by PRS for Music, which was due to take place tonight at London’s British Library. Roger Cutsforth, chief executive of event organiser Radio Academy, says: “[D]ue to the sheer number of people from the industry who have been called back to their desks to report on the incident, and the many attendees attempting to travel, we have decided to reschedule the event for later this year.”

DHP Family’s Anton Lockwood, whose Dot to Dot new-music festival returns to Manchester this Friday (26 May), tells IQ it’s business as usual for the promoter until it hears otherwise.

“If police tell us we have to do anything different, we obviously will,” he explains, “but it never occurred to us to cancel.”

Arenas across the UK, as well as many London theatres, are believed to be urgently reviewing security procedures in the aftermath of the attack.

However, Phin Mackness, the managing director of urban booking agency Stateside Touring, says he believes not enough is being done to keep artists and audiences safe.

“This is the third time a music venue has been attacked in the space of 18 months,” he tells IQ, referencing the attacks on the Bataclan and Reina nightclub in Istanbul, “and I can only see that this is going to increase: when you’ve got lots of people in a small space like a venue, it makes an attractive target for terrorists.

“We need change – it’s not specific to the UK, but in live venues as a whole. This could happen anywhere.”

“When you’ve got lots of people in a small space like a venue, it makes an attractive target for terrorists”

In addition to the threat of terror discouraging some artists from visiting certain markets, a prominent industry insurance broker tells IQ premiums are likely to increase in the short-term as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Manchester bombing.

“The attack is likely to have a direct affect on [insurance] rates”, says Alesco’s Paul Twomey, as underwriters “look at the location of shows: for example, insurers will see more incidents occurring in France and Belgium and so premiums will be higher in Spain, Denmark, Scandinavia…”

Twomey adds, however, that unless Britain is hit by a spate of terror attacks, as has happened in France, insurance policies will only peak in price temporarily. “As the old adage goes, the safest place to be right now is probably in a music venue,” he says.

Regardless of whether the attack is a sign of things to come in the UK, the data is clear: Terrorist incidents at live music events are on the rise, doubling year on year since 2015, with at least four so far in 2017 alone.

With a few exceptions, in Manchester, at least, the show looks to go on. While there is, says Lockwood, “a certain nervousness among some artists, especially Americans, flying in for Dot to Dot” – but the general mood “is one of defiance: people are thinking, ‘We’re just going to get on with it and not let last night stop me doing the things I want to do.”


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