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Elbow Opens Troubled Manchester Arena with Resilience and Music

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Manchester‘s troubled new Co-op Live arena has finally opened its doors to the public at the fourth attempt, following a series of highly-publicised problems and delays that forced it to call off its first events.

After shows by Elbow became the first official date in its schedule.The band received an enthusiastic reception from the audience.

Most areas were open, although there were issues with long queues to get in and tills not working at some self-service food outlets.

After their first song, Elbow’s frontman Guy Garvey addressed the crowd: “Good evening Manchester! Let’s open this venue properly shall we?”

Co-op Live is the biggest indoor arena in the UK, with a maximum capacity of 23,500, and its construction costs have risen to almost £450m.

Nigel Thomas, 58, from Chester, came to the gig with family, including his son Jake, who has travelled back from Hong Kong for the occasion.

Elbow have been a special band for the family over the years, Mr Thomas said. “We love the music but we’ve been living in different countries.”

He said he had followed the Co-op Live saga “very closely” in the build-up to the gig.

Sam Veal, 51, has seen Elbow about 20 times and travelled from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire for this show.

The arena was originally scheduled to be opened by Bolton comedian Peter Kay on 23 April, but his shows were rescheduled twice because it wasn’t ready.

“If that was 15 minutes later, something catastrophic could have happened,” Tim Leiweke, chief executive of Co-op Live operator Oak View Group, told BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson earlier.

Rachel Adams

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