Manchester AO Arena bosses reveal how they organised last-minute Take That shows after Co-op Live fallout

Exclusive: Team behind the AO Arena reveal how they were able to put together five consecutive nights for Take That with less than 48 hours notice

Roisin O'Connor
Music Editor
Tuesday 07 May 2024 16:48 BST
Comments
Family throws 'Olivia Rodrigo concert' for kids who missed out on Co-Op Live gig

The organisers behind the AO Arena in Manchester have said they intend to put on the best show possible for Take That fans, after the pop band moved over to the rival venue following a chaotic opening for the newly built Co-op Live.

Co-op Live was due to open weeks ago but has been forced to cancel or postpone a number of events after the £365m project was hit by a string of technical issues.

Last week, an air conditioning unit fell from the ceiling during rapper A Boogie Wit the Hoodie’s soundcheck. No one was injured, and organisers said that rigorous safety measures were being carried out.

A Boogie With the Hoodie’s show was then moved over to the AO Arena, with Take That’s five scheduled performances for May also moved to the venue, beginning with tonight’s (7 May) concert.

Speaking with The Independent, AO Arena’s general manager Jen Mitchell said her team had just 48 hours to get everything in place before thousands of fans descended on the venue.

“Usually we have about six to eight months to prepare for a show on this scale,” she said. “Obviously we’re keen to make sure the shows stay in Manchester and fans still get to see Take That. We’re really keen that as a city we’re able to come together and keep the shows at the heart of everything.”

The AO Arena recently underwent a major £50m refurbishment, including backstage areas and front of house, where Michelin-starred chefs Simon Rogan and Tom Barnes have been brought into create new menu options for music fans.

The new Mezz area of the Manchester AO Arena
The new Mezz area of the Manchester AO Arena (Press)

“It’s an opportunity for guests to get a heightened level of dining that they could get in the city centre, but can now also enjoy within the arena,” Mitchell said. “We’re really excited, it’s a concept that we think will do really well.”

Capacity has also been increased to 23,000, making it one of the largest indoor arenas in the UK.

“It’s enabled us to expand our standing floor, so we’ve increased that by 100 per cent from 3,600 to 6,200,” Mitchell said. “It’s a phenomenal number to have on a standing floor in an arena space, and that’s enabled us to accommodate more music fans.”

Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up
Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up
Elton John is among the artists to have performed at the newly refurbished AO Arena
Elton John is among the artists to have performed at the newly refurbished AO Arena (Press )

Organising ticket transfers for around 100,000 fans over the five consecutive Take That shows was a particularly daunting prospect, but Mitchell said she was confident that guests would still be thrilled by the experience.

“We’re working really closely with our ticketing partners... the venues are different, but generally fans will have the same experience,” she said. “Ultimately, we’re just keen to keep the party happening in the city and make sure everyone has a great night.”

Take That moved their Co-op Live Arena shows to the rival AO Arena in Manchester after the new venue was hit by a string of technical issues
Take That moved their Co-op Live Arena shows to the rival AO Arena in Manchester after the new venue was hit by a string of technical issues (Getty Images)

Responding to complaints from some fans who discovered their seats had been moved, a Ticketmaster spokesperson told the BBC: “We appreciate fans’ understanding, and reiterate that refunds are available through their Ticketmaster account. Everyone who booked VIP floor seats remains in VIP floor seats after the relocation.”

Co-op Live said it was aware the tumult of the past few weeks had “frustrated” and “angered” ticket-holders, but said it did not anticipate any further impact on its opening season.

The venue is now scheduled to open on 14 May with a performance from Manchester-formed rock band Elbow.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in