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Capacity boost for AMG’s revamped O2 City Hall

Academy Music Group (AMG) has breathed new life into O2 City Hall Newcastle following a significant revamp.

The 95-year-old venue has benefited from a brand-new, state-of-the-art retractable seating system, major restoration works and enhancements in house sound and lighting production.

The multi-functional auditorium has increased its capacity from 2,135 to 2,600, while also offering a 2,000-cap fully seated option with improved comfort and sightlines.

“When we acquired O2 City Hall Newcastle back in May 2019, we knew that it needed significant adjustments to reinstate it to its former glory and get it firmly back on the schedule for major touring acts” says AMG’s chief operating officer Graham Walters.

“It’s a stunning room, one that has seen the biggest names in rock and pop over the last four decades. Investment in modern facilities – including the option to have an all-standing auditorium – had to be on the agenda to offer a flexible space, as well as keeping a seated configuration. This way, we can hugely extend the variety of live music and events to tour in Newcastle and make sure we preserve its future for people and the community to enjoy for generations to come.”

“We’re thrilled to be part of this next phase in the venue’s story”

Opened in 1927, the Grade-II-listed venue is one of Newcastle’s first dedicated concert venues, which also houses an original Harrison & Harrison organ. As part of its revamp, AMG has also installed new additional toilets and refurbished the basement bar and a new extra bar area at balcony level, as well as a brand-new LED ceiling-lighting system in the main auditorium, plus a significant investment in a full production install of PA and stage lighting systems.

“This development paves the way for many more iconic performances to take the stage at O2 City Hall Newcastle,” adds Gareth Griffiths, director of partnerships and sponsorship for Virgin Media O2. “We’re thrilled to be part of this next phase in the venue’s story.”

Upcoming shows at the venue include Florence + The Machine, Paul Weller, Foals, Keith Urban, Gary Numan, Michael Kiwanuka, Roget Daltrey, The Prodigy, Ian Brown, Kaiser Chiefs, Sigrid and Placebo.

O2 City Hall Newcastle is part of AMG’s portfolio of venues across the UK, which includes London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, among others.

AMG has also enlisted the support of Liverpool-based Adlib to co-design and install a high-end touring specification for its audio and lighting systems at the 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh, its newest Scottish venue


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Report: 5G to bring £2.3bn to live industry by 2030

Research from mobile operator O2 has shown that 5G, or super high-speed mobile internet, could be set to boost the live entertainment industry by as much as £2.3 billion in the next ten years.

In the wake of the launch of O2’s 5G mobile internet in October 2019, and the concomitant partnership with music-focused virtual reality platform MelodyVR, the company commissioned consultancy Ovum to conduct the 5th Generation Entertainment report.

Up to 100 times faster than 4G internet and with the capacity for 1 million users per square kilometre (as opposed to 4,000 with 4G), the rollout of 5G presents many opportunities for the live industry, as will be discussed in detail at the 5G workshop at the International Live Music Conference in March.

The report findings show how 5G will improve fan experience and engagement through the enhancement of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), live streaming and smart ticketing.

Fans unable to attend a show will be able to purchase a high-quality livestream and watch in VR or AR. Viewers will also be able to personalise the experience, opting to focus on specific elements of a live event, enabling brands to target advertising. O2 is also looking into the possibility of broadcasting live through high-definition cameras on British television network ITV.

Pre-show opportunities include AR-assisted shopping that allows fans to virtually try on merchandise and order for collection at the show. Similar advance ordering systems can also apply to food and drink purchases, with real-time analytics allowing fans to find the quietest bar, easily navigate around venues and meet up with friends.

“5G will revolutionise live entertainment”

Event organisers may also capitalise on the superfast network to send personalised highlight reels directly to fans’ devices after the show.

“Through our sponsorships with England Rugby, The O2 Arena and 20 iconic O2 Academy venues, we aim to engage fans with relevant, useful and exciting experiences before, during and after a live event,” comments O2’s head of sponsorship Gareth Griffiths, who will present ILMC’s 5G workshop along with AEG Europe’s David Jones, O2/Telefónica UK’s Brendan O’Reilly and production manager Chris Vaughan on 5 March.

“The low-latency and superfast connectivity of 5G, underpinned by fan insights, bold branding and customer benefits, enables us to tailor these experiences to the diverse audiences we see at our venues in real-time.

“Whether for an England Rugby fan at Twickenham, a Kano fan at O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester or an Elton John fan at The O2, 5G will revolutionise live entertainment.”

David Jones, senior vice president of IT at AEG, owner of the O2 Arena, adds that 5G is set to particularly enhance the use of augmented reality and virtual reality technology.

“The O2 is at the forefront of O2’s 5G rollout in the UK, and I’m eager to see how the creative people who produce the hundreds of events each year at The O2 will embrace 5G and the technologies it enables, and use it to deliver fun and engaging experiences for fans,” says Jones.


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