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Sacha Lord exits Parklife, The Warehouse Project

Sacha Lord has left his leading roles at Parklife and The Warehouse Project, two of the biggest events in Manchester, UK.

He today (18 July) confirmed the transfer of his shares to LN Gaiety – which has owned a controlling stake in The Warehouse Project and Parklife since 2016 – to “focus on other endeavours”.

This includes his roles as Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, appointed to him by Mayor Andy Burnham in 2018, and chair of the Night Time Industries Association.

Lord says that his departure from Parklife and The Warehouse Project was agreed in 2021 and that “it was not an easy decision for me to make”.

“I will miss the team, the events, the customers, I’ll even miss the stress and the late nights, but I’ve known for a long time that Parklife 2024 was going to be the last for me,” he said.

“This decision will free up my time to focus on my roles in the nighttime economy and hospitality sectors”

“There could not have been a more perfect moment for me to step away than now – exactly 30 years since my first event at The Hacienda – and I’m so excited for what’s to come. This decision will free up my time to focus on my roles in the nighttime economy and hospitality sectors, and of course, most importantly, the birth of my first child with my beautiful wife Demi later this year.”

Lord is also Founder of the Sacha Lord Foundation, a charitable organisation which seeks to encourage and support young people entering the hospitality sector, and Chair of Wythenshawe FC.

Today’s news comes following an announcement that Arts Council England and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) are probing a £400,000 Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) grant awarded to a business controlled by Lord called Primary Event Solutions (PES).

Lord said he would “fully cooperate” with the process and was confident that “the outcomes will confirm that Primary Events Solutions Limited has not misled the Arts Council or the public, nor has it misused any public money”. Both authorities are yet to publish any findings from the investigation.

Parklife, Europe’s largest metropolitan festival, was launched in 2010 and has welcomed the likes of Liam Gallagher, the 1975 and 50 Cent. The annual festival, held in Heaton Park, welcomes 80,000 gig-goers each day of the festival and is said to employ over 2,500 people.

The Warehouse Project was co-founded by Lord, Sam Kandel and Rich McGinnis in 2006. It plays host to internationally acclaimed artists including Disclosure, Megan Thee Stallion, Nile Rodgers & Chic, The Prodigy, New Order, The Chemical Brothers and Calvin Harris.

Located at the 10,000-capacity Depot Mayfield in Manchester, it welcomed over 275,000 customers during its 2023 season. Kandel and McGinnis will be staying on at the company.

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Rivca Burns, Factory International/From the Other

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Rhys France (he/him), corporate and private events booker at CAA.

The series continues with Rivca Burns (she/her), director of From the Other and acting head of music at Factory International.


For the past 15 years, Rivca Burns has been a freelance creative programme producer. More recently, she’s worked as director of From the Other, home to the nearly 20-year-old new music festival Sounds From the Other City in Salford, Fat Out Fest, and music residency program Samarbeta. Having programmed and produced Festival Square for Manchester International Festival since 2019, she is also currently the acting head of music at Aviva Studios, home of Factory International.

She also co-chairs the Greater Manchester Music Commission and sits on the board of Manchester Music Cities, as well as holds the reigning title of Manchester’s Cultural Hero, as voted for by BBC Introducing and City Life.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
Stepping into the acting head of music role has been huge, not only following the inimitable Jane Beese but also stepping into a building that has so much potential and opportunity for artists, audiences and the city – it’s a real honour. Having spent my whole working life calling Manchester home, the Music City that encompasses its borders is greater and more exciting than ever before – especially in its grassroots – and this venue is another step to solidify that as artists can now play in Manchester at every step of their career.

“The industry needs to recognise that misogyny in music is very much still a thing”

What’s your most pressing challenge in the industry right now?
There are a number of things: from supporting the grassroots, funding to artists from streaming services, ticket prices and audience behaviours, through to equality and diversity in the industry. There are so many things I could pick on but I’m going to focus on something very close to me, and that is that the industry needs to recognise that misogyny in music is very much still a thing. Following the damning report at the start of the year, that in my opinion has not had enough action or follow on attention, there are some huge issues to tackle to make a change. 

There is still a huge gender pay gap, unequal childcare set ups and nowhere near enough women in positions of power, there are not enough women in backstage areas in technical roles, or in A&R or label positions shaping the artists we hear daily and crucially there are not enough women in mixing and mastering positions. Until these scenarios change and become more meaningfully equal then nothing will change and women will still be at risk in this industry, it requires much more acknowledgement and action.  

Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve had to overcome as a queer person in this industry.
Being taken seriously. I think because I look so young due to my androgynous looks and the way I dress as a queer person, it’s sometimes hard to get taken seriously and get the right attention in ‘the room’. But I continue to be authentically me, live by my values and support those around me to be the best they can be.  

“This year is full of incredible queer icons performing live”

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Copy the football set-up and create an independent body that can collect a nominal ticket levy from large arenas, and a percentage of profit from large streaming suppliers and labels to create a self-supporting industry fund that can support the grassroots; from artists to venues to labels and everything in between. 

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
There are so many; from the haunting beautiful vocals of Anohni & the Johnsons to the legendary Beverley Glenn Copeland through to the much-anticipated return of queer powerhouses Gossip and the superstar that is Janelle Monae; this year is full of incredible queer icons performing live. I’m also really excited about trying to see Alice Longyu Gao again as well, such an amazing live set, and it’s been far too many years since Serpentwithfeet performed in the UK. Sorry that was six!

“I continue to be authentically me, live by my values and support those around me to be the best they can be”

Do you have a favourite queer space?
Islington Mill in Salford is a queer hub/mecca of Greater Manchester that has been operating as a venue since the mid-noughties and has seen so many people come through its doors from Grimes, Christeene, Peaches, Hunx & his Punx, Ssion even Bjork. The main club space is currently being run by Partisan Collective and there are so many upcoming and underground queer nights and artists starting up there. It is a proper Queer Utopia. 

Shout out any LGBTIQ+ cause(s) you support.
Mermaids are doing some incredible work for trans youth who have my full backing, alongside charities such as the Proud Trust, George House Trust and the LGBT Foundation who all continue to do such important work for different humans in the queer community. 

How do you like to celebrate Pride?
Pride is a protest, let’s not forget, so the parade for me is always at the heart of a Pride celebration. Community groups and charities are so important to queer culture; to provide support and community when people often feel left without one and this is so clearly visible in the diversity of groups you see marching year in, year out. But also it’s about friends and raising people up and providing platforms, so I spend a lot of time doing just that and do the rounds of many of the alternative pride events that happen across Manchester.


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Nicki Minaj’s Co-op Live gig axed after drugs arrest

Nicki Minaj’s concert at Manchester’s Co-op Live was called off at the last minute, following her arrest at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

The American rapper was arrested on suspicion of exporting soft drugs before being fined €350 and allowed to continue her journey, Dutch authorities said.

The artist didn’t make it to Manchester in time for her concert on Saturday (25 May), which was postponed just after 21:30 BST, with 20,000 fans in the arena waiting for her to take the stage.

On social media, Minaj said she was in a jail cell for between five and six hours, and finally arrived at her hotel in Manchester around midnight.

In a statement, promoters Live Nation said: “Nicki Minaj’s scheduled performance at Manchester’s Co-op Live on Saturday 25 May has been postponed.

“Tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performance which will be announced as soon as possible.

“Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible. We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused.”

Co-op Live posted the same statement.

Minaj continued her tour in Birmingham last night (26 May) and is due to visit London and Glasgow, before a second scheduled date in Manchester on Thursday.

It is the latest problem to hit the 23,500-cap Co-op Live, which has also been forced to postpone or move gigs by the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Take That and Peter Kay in recent weeks after suffering a string of delays and technical problems.

The Oak View Group (OVG)-operated arena finally opened on 14 May for an opening performance by Manchester’s Elbow.

Co-op Live’s interim general manager, Rebecca Kane Burton, recently told OVG-owned publication VenuesNow that the venue is “all up and running and fully furnished”.

“We’ve had a natural ramp-up in terms of the capacities we’ve been hosting. Peter Kay was our biggest event (May 23-24). We had between 14,000 and 15,000 people – all of the levels in full use. All suites and premium areas have been working at full-tilt. There’s still work happening within the building, but it tends to be offices and back-of-house areas.”

 


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Elbow show gets Co-op Live up and running

Manchester’s Co-op Live has successfully opened with a hometown concert by rock band Elbow.

The launch of the UK’s largest arena – a joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group – was pushed back two weeks following a series of hitches, but last night’s belated opening gig passed by without incident.

“It’s been tough,” OVG chief Tim Leiweke told reporters ahead of the event, as per the Guardian. “I’m emotional because this is a big deal and we want to do right by Manchester.

”It’s never easy getting these things built with Brexit and Covid but at the end of the day we’ve built the greatest arena ever built – for Manchester. It’s been tough. I’ve apologised to those [fans] we disrupted… now the building is open and will be for another 30 years.”

”Everybody that’s been working on this building has been so excited today, so nervous but so excited,” Elbow frontman Guy Garvey told the crowd at last night’s (14 May) show. “There was already electricity in the air before you lot got in today and now it’s thoroughly amped up. I hope you can feel it.”

The 23,500-cap Co-op Live was originally set to launch with Peter Kay on 29 April, only for the comedian’s dates to be pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site. Days earlier, a free test performance by Rick Astley was only permitted to go ahead at a significantly reduced capacity, while a 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys was also postponed.

“We were going to take our time to make sure we did this right”

A performance by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was then axed for “technical reasons” 10 minutes before doors were due to open on 1 May after part of the air conditioning system at the arena became detached, prompting OVG to announce a “short pause” to events to “allow for an independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling”.

“If that was 15 minutes later, something catastrophic could have happened,” said Leiweke, speaking to the BBC. “We [have since] got that double checked and triple checked,” he continued. “We’ve looked at thousands of bolts up in that ceiling now. We’ve looked at the life safety lines. And we were going to take our time to make sure we did this right.”

The A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie performance and five nights with Take That were relocated to the rival AO Arena in Manchester due to the delays, while former boss of The O2, Rebecca Kane Burton, was brought in as interim boss of Co-op Live in late April following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

The Black Keys’ postponed show will take place at the venue tonight (15 May), followed by Eric Clapton (18 May), Barry Manilow (19 May), Peter Kay (23-24 May), Nicki Minaj (25 & 30 May) and the Eagles (31 May) set to follow this month.

Other upcoming acts will include Liam Gallagher, The Killers, Stevie Nicks and Pearl Jam.

 


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Take That rack up AO Arena Manchester milestone

Take That have become the first band ever to play 50 shows at Manchester’s AO Arena.

The band, who first played the venue in 1995 during their Nobody Else Tour, reached the milestone during their five-night run at the venue from 7-12 May as part of their current This Life On Tour.

This Life On Tour has sold more than 700,000 tickets across 41 dates in 15 UK cities, making it the biggest-selling tour ticket sales for a UK artist this year. Plus the band broke their own record last month for the most number of shows performed at The O2 in London, with their tally now totalling 39.

“We’re delighted that we’ve been able to celebrate Take That’s 50th Show at the AO Arena, right here in the heart of the action,” says AO Arena general manager Jen Mitchell. “Not only do we enjoy having the band here, we love hosting their fans and making every moment memorable.”

“I’d like to thank AO Arena for stepping up and at the 11th hour to endure the mammoth task of working with ticket outlets to transfer tens of thousands of tickets”

Thousands of fans were surprised with Golden Tickets over the course of the residency, upgrading their experience into the arena’s new Mezz bar. The ASM Global-operated AO Arena has seen a £70m investment over the past two years, transforming the venue and upgrading its capacity to 23,000. The redevelopment has reimagined existing spaces and new offerings including The Mezz bar and restaurant and a new lower concourse.

AO Arena stepped in to host the five concerts, along with a show by A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, following a delay in the opening of rival Manchester site Co-op Live, which was originally due to host the dates.

“I’d like to thank AO Arena for stepping up and at the 11th hour to endure the mammoth task of working with ticket outlets to transfer tens of thousands of tickets,” adds Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester.

Upcoming concerts at AO Arena include Nickelback, Girls Aloud, Troye Sivan, Tool, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Becky Hill, The Corrs, Alice Cooper, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Childish Gambino.

 


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Co-op Live set to open with Elbow concert

It is all systems go for Manchester’s Co-op Live as the UK’s largest arena finally prepares to open its doors.

Elbow will christen the 23,500-cap venue with a homecoming gig tomorrow (14 May), with shows by the Black Keys (15 May), Eric Clapton (18 May), Barry Manilow (19 May), Peter Kay (23-24 May), Nicki Minaj (25 & 30 May) and the Eagles (31 May) set to follow this month.

“Co-op Live is thrilled to be gearing up to open our doors on 14 May 2024 for an opening performance by Manchester’s Elbow and to proceed with all scheduled events,” says a statement from the Oak View Group (OVG)-operated arena.

The announcement comes on the heels of a turbulent few weeks for the 23,500-cap venue, which was originally set to launch with Peter Kay on 29 April, only for the comedian’s dates to be pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site. Days earlier, a free test performance by Rick Astley was only permitted to go ahead at reduced capacity, while a 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys was also postponed.

A performance by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was then axed for “technical reasons” 10 minutes before doors were due to open on 1 May after part of the air conditioning system at the £365 million arena became detached. Two nights with US superstar Olivia Rodrigo, set for 3-4 May, were also called off along with Keane’s 5 May concert, the latter of which has since been rescheduled for 19 October.

“Following the incident in the bowl on 1 May 2024, an inspection and verification report was undertaken by SES subcontractors,” the venue tells the Manchester Evening News. “In consultation with Manchester City Council, responsible authorities, and wider stakeholders, we are satisfied with the process and outcome of the investigation identifying the HVAC nozzle as an isolated manufacturing default. This is a standard process of review in any venue when such an incident occurs.”

“The council has received documentation that confirms that the venue has carried out the necessary investigations”

A statement from the local authority adds: “The council has received documentation that confirms that the venue has carried out the necessary investigations following the incident with their air ducting that provides reassurance that they have considered their duties under health and safety law.”

A Boogie With Da Hoodie’s gig and the first five dates of Take That residency’s relocated to ASM Global’s rival Manchester venue, the 23,000-cap AO Arena. Take That’s remaining Manchester concerts are still due to take place at Co-op Live on 11 & 12 June. Former boss of The O2, Rebecca Kane Burton, was brought in as interim boss of Co-op Live in late April following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

“Co-op Live is purpose built for music, showcasing enhanced sightlines and innovative acoustic design for music fans and artists to enjoy a full live entertainment experience,” says the Co-op Live statement. “As so, we are especially disappointed to have delayed our introduction and frustrated so many in the process.

“For all shows rescheduled to take place at Co-op Live, and for those ticket holders of shows next week that have worried about their shows taking place, we want to ensure that all fans have the best possible experience at their long-awaited event.”

People with tickets for rescheduled events will be offered a free drink and a food voucher when they attend the venue.

“Since our first postponement on 23 April 2024, we have remained strongly committed to ensuring all events are rescheduled and returned to Manchester”

“Whilst we know this won’t erase the inconvenience and upset caused by the original postponements, we hope it will help everyone have the best possible time on the night,” adds Co-op Live. “Since our first postponement on 23 April 2024, we have remained strongly committed to ensuring all events are rescheduled and returned to Manchester, allowing as many fans as possible to experience their favourite artists. We deeply appreciate the cooperation and hard work of ticketing agents, promoters and artists to make this a reality.

“Collaboratively working hard behind the scenes, we are happy to have rescheduled all shows to the city, and we continue to work with Olivia Rodrigo and team to secure new dates. We will update ticket holders to those events as soon as possible.”

Elsewhere in Manchester, the O2 Victoria Warehouse was forced to postpone last night’s (12 May) show by PVRIS at short notice due to “unforeseen circumstances” in the midst of heavy storms in the city. Posting on Instagram Stories, the band said the cancellation was due to “a massive leak” in the 3,500-cap venue’s ceiling.

“We are so sorry to have the cancel the show tonight due to a massive leak in the venue’s ceiling causing flooding right before doors,” they said. “We’ve tried everything we could to find an alternative to still perform for you all tonight but due to circumstances beyond our control there is unfortunately no options for the show to go ahead.”

 


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OVG sets revised Co-op Live opening date

Oak View Group (OVG) chief Tim Leiweke has offered his “sincere apologies” for the catalogue of delays to have hit the company’s Co-op Live venue – and shared a revised timetable for the £365 million development’s launch.

The 23,500-cap Manchester arena has announced a “short pause” to events to “allow for an independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling”, with Elbow’s 14 May show currently set to be the next to go ahead.

The move follows the cancellation of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s 1 May concert for “technical reasons”, just 10 minutes before doors had been due to open, compounded by the earlier postponement of launch shows by Peter Kay and The Black Keys. Capacity for a free test performance by Rick Astley also had to be cut from 11,000 to 4,000 at short notice.

OVG blamed a defect with a component of Co-op Live’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system for the cancellations.

“At this time, we do not expect further impact on our opening season,” says an OVG statement. “We are aware our actions have frustrated and angered ticketholders. We know you’ve incurred significant disruption and are finding a way to help make it right. We are taking the pause to think about the best ways to do that.

“Our naming rights partner, the Co-op Group, has also expressed the importance of ensuring that the significant impact on ticketholders is recognised and addressed, with more detail to follow soon.”

“On behalf of all of us at Oak View Group, I’d like to express my sincere apologies to all those that have been affected”

Axed dates with Olivia Rodrigo (3-4 May) and Keane (5 May) are still to be rescheduled, while A Boogie With Da Hoodie’s performance and the first five dates of Take That’s residency are relocating to ASM Global’s rival Manchester venue, the 23,000-cap AO Arena, on 4 May and 7-12 May, respectively.

“It wouldn’t be a Take That tour without a stop-off in Manchester, so it’s great to welcome the band and their fans back to AO Arena for five nights, in the heart of this wonderful city,” says AO Arena general manager Jen Mitchell.

Singer Barry Manilow has also revealed on social media that Kennedy Street Enterprises’ Danny Betesh, co-promoter of his 19 May concert at Co-op Live, has reserved the AO Arena for the same night as a “back-up plan”.

Former boss of The O2, Rebecca Kane Burton, was drafted in as interim boss of Co-op Live last week following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

“As many of you will know, it’s not been the smooth start we had planned for, and I know that has caused a huge amount of disruption and frustration to thousands of people,” says Leiweke. “On behalf of all of us at Oak View Group, I’d like to express my sincere apologies to all those that have been affected. We understand that there is work to be done to rebuild your trust in us. This starts now and at the request of the naming rights partner, The Co-Op Group, we will be addressing impact on affected ticket holders, details of which will be shared soon.

“I’d like to reiterate my sincerest apologises to everyone that has been affected by the delays around the opening of Co-Op Live. The team here is working incredibly hard to get the building up and running, and we look forward to welcoming you to the arena from 14 May 2024.”

 


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Co-op Live opening postponed for third time

The saga over the launch of the UK’s largest arena continues to rumble on after its opening was again delayed, with more shows postponed.

Last night’s (1 May) performance by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie at the 23,500-cap Co-op Live in Manchester was axed for “technical reasons” 10 minutes before doors had been due to open, while two nights with US superstar Olivia Rodrigo, set for 3-4 May, have also now been called off along with Keane’s concert on 5 May.

Venue operator Oak View Group (OVG) told the BBC the fault was caused by a “factory defect” with a nozzle used to direct air, but staff were unable to verify that the problem was limited to only one nozzle. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie has since announced that his show has been rescheduled to take place at the AO Arena in Manchester this Saturday (4 May). The first five dates of Take That’s residency from 7-12 May are also relocating to the rival venue.

The £365 million Co-op Live’s official launch with comedian Peter Kay was initially pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site, days after its capacity for a free test performance by Rick Astley was cut from 11,000 to 4,000 at short notice. A 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys has also been moved.

The venue acknowledged it needed “to reassure fans over future shows”, but did not rule out further cancellations.

“We are working with artist management and promoters to limit the impact on the opening season schedule,” says a statement. “Where necessary, we will identify alternate dates, and will continually reassess to provide fans with sufficient notice regarding imminent shows.

“Should shows be cancelled or rescheduled, fans will be contacted by their point of purchase and offered a full refund where preferred.”

“We could not and will not run any event until it is absolutely safe to do so”

OVG chief Tim Leiweke said: “The safety and security of all visiting and working on Co-op Live is our utmost priority, and we could not and will not run any event until it is absolutely safe to do so. Today was a very unexpected situation but without a doubt the right decision.”

Venue sponsor the Co-operative Group says it will be seeking a “full explanation” from OVG.

“We are relieved that no-one has been injured, but we share the disappointment and frustration of ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op members, with the continuing delay to the opening of Co-op Live and the disruption that this is causing to everyone who has been looking forward to attending events.

“We will be seeking a full explanation from Oak View Group, who are responsible for the building, to the obvious questions arising from this, together with a clear plan from the Co-op Live venue management team at OVG for opening the venue and postponed and future events.”

The arena’s next slate of bookings currently features Elbow (14 May), the Black Keys (15 May), Eric Clapton (18 May), Barry Manilow (19 May), Peter Kay (23-24 May), Nicki Minaj (25 & 30 May) and the Eagles (31 May).

Venue management veteran Rebecca Kane Burton was drafted in as interim boss of Co-op Live last week following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday, Isle of Wight festival promoter and Solo Agency MD John Giddings suggested the early hitches will be forgotten after the arena gets out of the starting block.

“I think it’s a minor hiccup because it’s a huge operation,” he said. “Once they’ve got a few gigs under their belt, everybody will start forgetting about it.”

 


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Rebecca Kane Burton in at Co-op Live as GM resigns

Venue management veteran Rebecca Kane Burton has been named interim boss of Manchester’s Co-op Live following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

Kane Burton served a near five-year stint as VP and GM of The O2 in London before stepping down in 2016 to become chief executive of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End venue chain LW Theatres until departing in 2021.

Prior to The O2, Kane Burton was MD of the 10,400-cap Alexandra Palace, also in London, and previously held a senior role at English Heritage. She was appointed UK & Ireland CEO of venue services company Sodexo Live! in 2022.

Roden’s exit from the 23,500-cap Co-op Live – a joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group (CFG) – was confirmed last night (25 April) in the midst of a turbulent week for the UK’s largest live entertainment arena, which has been forced to postpone its opening for a second time.

The £365 million venue’s official launch was pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site, days after its capacity for a free test performance by Rick Astley was cut from 11,000 to 4,000 at short notice.

Its grand opening with two shows by comedian Peter Kay, originally slated for this week, has now been switched to 23-24 May, while a 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys set for tomorrow (27 April) will instead take place on 15 May.

“Rescheduling The Black Keys and Peter Kay gives the dedicated team the time and space needed to finalise systems and measures”

“It’s always been very important to me that we only open Co-op Live when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and rescheduling The Black Keys and Peter Kay gives the dedicated team the time and space needed to finalise systems and measures,” says OVG chair and CEO Tim Leiweke. “I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to every fan that has been impacted by this decision and others this week, and join the full team in thanking them for their continued patience and support as we prepare to open our doors.”

Roden’s recent comments to the BBC that some small music venues were “poorly run”, in response to the Music Venue Trust’s (MVT) calls for a compulsory £1 levy on tickets sold for UK live music events above 5,000-cap, also caused controversy.

“Why is a small venue failing?” he said. “Absolutely, en masse bills are going up and this, that and the other. But ultimately if there are 1,000 venues, one of them is going to be the best-run venue and one of them is going to be the poorly run venue, and where does the money go?

“If the conversation stops being ‘Give me a quid’ and quite aggressive – if it changed to be, ‘What can we do together to help?’, that’s where I think we start to get into that apprenticeship conversation and all those different things that we want to work through.”

MVT chief Mark Davyd criticised the remarks as “disrespectful and disingenuous”.

“The UK’s grassroots music venues are not ‘poorly run’, and it is disrespectful and disingenuous to suggest otherwise,” he told NME. “This is a highly skilled and experienced sector facing almost insurmountable and highly specialist challenges.”

“Neither Co-op Live nor Oak View Group share the sentiment expressed by former Co-op Live general manager Gary Roden regarding the grassroots industry”

Roden’s exit comes almost a year to the day since he joined Co-op Live as GM and executive director. He previously spent over eight years at Ticketmaster UK, latterly as SVP of client development and commercial.

OVG International president Jessica Koravos says Roden has “decided to resign” and the company remains “focused on opening Co-op Live”.

“We’d like to thank Gary for his help bringing the UK’s newest arena to live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future,” she says. “Rebecca Kane Burton has been named interim GM, effective today. Rebecca is a seasoned veteran of venue management and live entertainment in the UK having served as VP/GM of The O2 from 2012-2016 and CEO of LW Theatres from 2016-2021.

“Neither Co-op Live nor Oak View Group share the sentiment expressed by former Co-op Live general manager Gary Roden regarding the grassroots industry. As OVG chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke has repeatedly stated, Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond, including teaming up with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on the Artist of the Month campaign, and as a founding partner of Beyond The Music.

“Co-op Live also donates over £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation to support communities and empower young people to take social action through its new Young Gamechangers fund. Oak View Group and Co-op Live remain happy to meet with grassroots organisations once the venue is fully operational.”

Meanwhile, Co-op Live has moved to reassure ticket-holders that upcoming dates with Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (1 May) and Olivia Rodrigo (3-4 May) will go ahead as planned.

A statement from the Co-op Group adds: “As the naming rights sponsor for Co-op Live, we are very disappointed in the delayed opening of the venue and fully recognise the disruption this has caused to affected ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op members.

“Co-op Live is an incredible venue and is a force for good for Manchester, our region and the UK as a whole. We look forward to seeing the venue fully open in accordance with the timescales provided by OVG today.”

 


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Co-op Live opening shows pushed back

The official opening of the UK’s largest arena has been postponed due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site.

A joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group, the £365 million Co-op Live in Manchester was due to launch tomorrow with the first of two shows by comedian Peter Kay.

But the dates have now been pushed back to next week after a free test performance by Rick Astley at the venue was cut from 11,000 to 4,000 shortly before it was scheduled to begin on Saturday (20 April). Those with tickets for Astley’s concert who were unable to gain entry have instead been invited to The Black Keys gig at the arena on 27 April.

A spokesperson for the 23,500-cap venue said the decision was made “to enable us to test the spaces effectively”.

“Leading into our test event, some systems had limited electrical power which we were only able to mitigate by reducing capacity,” said a statement. “This meant we made the difficult decision to reduce the capacity of our test event and deeply regret the impact this had on our invited guests.”

Kay’s dates have been switched from 23-24 April to 29-30 April with refunds available for those who can no longer attend. The venue said the postponement was necessary to “ensure we have a consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue”.

“We will still be hosting The Black Keys on 27 April in the lower bowl with 10k fans as planned, and will continue to test the resilience of the venue and its operations,” reads the statement. “Rescheduling gives us the extra time we need to continue testing thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size.”

“We will still be hosting The Black Keys on 27 April in the lower bowl with 10k fans as planned, and will continue to test the resilience of the venue and its operations”

While the opening of the UK’s newest venue is slightly delayed, Saturday’s test event drew positive reviews from media in attendance.

Manchester World writes: ‘The clarity and depth of sound was notable. Even from the back and the sides, you could feel the bass in your chest and pick out the individual instruments in each ensemble.

“Visibility was also good. Granted, this was a much smaller crowd size than the arena will be pulling in when the opening season commences, but I still had a decent view of the stage from the back end of the floorspace.

“The state-of-art technology used to craft the gig experience inside the venue is truly impressive.”

Upcoming Co-op Live concerts include residencies by Take That, Eagles, Liam Gallagher and The Killers, exclusive arena dates with Pearl Jam and Stevie Nicks, plus shows by acts such as Olivia Rodrigo, Nicki Minaj, Jonas Brothers, Kings of Leon, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Eric Clapton, Pet Shop Boys and Megan thee Stallion.

Meanwhile, OVG chief Tim Leiweke has shed further light on the company’s plans to build “the greatest arena in the world” in London, as first revealed at this year’s ILMC. Leiweke told the Telegraph the firm was in talks to open a second UK venue near Hammersmith.

 


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