Fans ‘buzzing’ as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie gig moved from Co-op Live goes ahead

Fans of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie said they were "buzzing" to be at his Manchester concert on Saturday, after it was moved from the troubled Co-op Live arena.

The American rapper was originally due to perform at the new venue on Wednesday.

But that concert had to be called off at the last minute, due to technical issues.

The artist then switched to a rival venue, the AO Arena.

The rapper opened with an enthusiastic "Manchester are you ready", getting an excited response from the largely teenage crowd.

"It cost us a lot," Dylan, 19, from Leeds, told BBC News.

He and his girlfriend Emmy, 18, had had to rearrange trains in order to make the new date.

"But it's Boogie at the end of the day. I'm buzzing."

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie wearing a fluorescent jacket during his birthday celebration in 2023
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, seen here at his birthday celebration last year, was forced to cancel his original gig at the Co-op Live venue [Getty Images]

Many fans only found out about the original gig's cancellation while they were queuing for the doors to open on Wednesday.

Rose and Tilly, both 17 and from Greater Manchester, said the whole situation had been "really annoying".

"We had to travel in again by tram," said Rose.

She said she already had plans for Saturday and had to move things around, in order to make the new date.

But both said it was "worth the wait" to finally get to see A Boogie wit Da Hoodie.

Inside the arena, it seemed most fans had put aside the inconveniences and were just focusing on the music.

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie came on stage to loud cheers just after 21:00, and promptly launched into some of his biggest hits.

Still Think About You, Drowning, and Look Back At It were all lapped up by the audience, many of who were singing along and filming on their phones.

The rapper is not the only act to fall foul of the crisis at Co-op Live arena.

The UK's largest arena was due to open last month but has been hit by setbacks, delays and cancellations.

Boy band Take That has also announced a switch to the AO for their concerts which were cancelled. US singer Olivia Rodrigo's two sold out gigs at the new venue this weekend were also called off.

Speaking to BBC News ahead of the Boogie Wit Da Hoodie gig, Gary Simpson, senior vice president of operations UK at ASM Global, said it had been "a fantastic week but also a hectic week".

"We've got a great team at the AO Arena. With 48 hours notice, we've managed to put on this show tonight. We've got another five shows next week of Take That here as well, the team has been phenomenal."

He said that safety was "critical" and that they take it "hugely seriously", adding: "We're ready to take any shows here at the arena."

Oak View Group, which owns the Co-op Live arena, has blamed defects with parts of its ventilation system for recent cancellations.

The venue said the delays were to allow for "an independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling".

Members of the Manchester Arena Support Network, which is a group which helps people affected by the 2017 terror attack, have urged the Co-op Live venue to postpone concerts until the building is ready.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds others were injured after suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a homemade device at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.

Speaking to BBC News, Ruth Leney, who was at Manchester Arena with her daughter on the night of the bombing, said: "For safety reasons, they need to postpone the opening until they're ready."

She said for her, and another survivors of the attack, safety is "paramount".

And with the anniversary of the attack - 22 May - approaching, she said it's an especially anxious time.

"In May, our anxiety is raised because as soon as 1 May hits, we know what's coming, 22 May, and everyone has this higher level of anxiety as it stands, and if we'd been arranging to go to the Co-op venue, the new venue, it's just sending everyone out of control really."

A spokesperson for the Co-op Live arena told the BBC it "couldn't and wouldn't operate any show or event without all necessary approvals".

Oak View Group boss Tim Leiweke, has said Co-op Live was working to rebuild trust after a "huge amount of disruption and frustration".

He reiterated his "sincerest apologies to everyone affected" and said the firm was working "incredibly hard" to have the building ready for 14 May.

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