'Special' Chester family reunion at Elbow gig as Co-op Live arena finally opens

Nigel Thomas, 56, from Chester, before the Co-op Live arena gig -Credit:PA
Nigel Thomas, 56, from Chester, before the Co-op Live arena gig -Credit:PA

The troubled Co-op Live arena finally opened its doors last night having been plagued by a series of delays. And for one Chester family, the new £365m arena's opening show proved to be a "special" night.

The Manchester-based venue - the biggest indoor arena in the UK - had recently postponed its opening show for the third time after part of its ventilation and air conditioning system fell to the ground from the ceiling during a soundcheck. However, on Tuesday, it officially opened its doors to "apprehensive" fans for an Elbow gig.

Big fan Nigel Thomas, 56 and from Chester, had gone to the show with family members, with one relative travelling from Hong Kong to see the band. He said recent cancellations at the arena had left him feeling “scared” and “worried”.

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He told PA ahead of the gig: "I'm so excited, I actually can't believe it's going to go ahead tonight after all the worries. I've seen them (Elbow) many times. This is a special day because it's a reunion for the family.

"Elbow is our family band for many years and he's come back from Hong Kong especially to join us. It's the first we've got together in so many years - it's special."

He added: "We (were) worried if it would go to another venue, possibly just be postponed, and we wouldn’t all be able to meet and make it happen, so tonight feels a little bit weird, still a bit apprehensive that it hasn’t actually started yet, so we’ve still got a few hours to go."

Issues at the arena began after a test event in April led to the rescheduling of comedian Peter Kay’s stand-up dates. Kay, who was meant to be the “first artist in the world to perform at Manchester Co-op Live”, according to promotional posters, had his shows postponed twice as the venue was not ready to open.

The problems also led to the venue rescheduling a Black Keys gig. The venue then planned for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to open the arena on May 1, but it was called off just over an hour before his performance and after doors had opened to fans – due to the ventilation system becoming detached.

The Co-op Live arena is a joint venture between Oak View Group, co-founded by Leiweke and US music mogul Irving Azoff, and City Football Group, owned by billionaire United Arab Emirates royal and deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansour. Harry Styles is among the other investors.

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