It’s been a long time coming – but this Saturday, Manchester’s AO Arena will open its doors once again to a sell-out crowd of Blossoms fans as the Stockport indie band perform their first headline show at the iconic venue.
This means it’s been 78 weeks and a whopping 553 days since live music last rocked the arena.
Blossoms will take to the stage at their hometown arena to conclude their most recent UK tour, before they’re set to support fellow Manchester indie rockers Courteeners at Emirates Old Trafford later this month, and even join forces with Northern 80s pop icon Rick Astley for two intimate gigs playing only the songs of Manchester band The Smiths.
Blossoms’ most recent studio album, 2020’s Foolish Loving Spaces, went all the way to number one in the UK album chart.
The band have now sold 604,747 albums in their career to date worldwide, including more than 340,000 in the UK, and have amassed over 484 million global streams – 319 million of those streams in the UK.
Blossoms sell-out gig at the arena – which celebrated its 25th anniversary back in July 2020 – is also the first time the venue opens under new sponsorship, as back in September, 2020, it welcomed online electricals retailer AO as the new headline sponsor and rebranded as the AO Arena with a fresh new look.
The partnership is said to highlight AO’s commitment to bringing live music and entertainment back to the heart of Manchester.
As well as the Bolton-born brand’s famous green smile, visitors to the arena will have the opportunity to enjoy exclusive ‘money-can’t-buy’ experiences, as well as on the spot ‘surprise and delight’ activations on the arena’s concourse, courtesy of the retailer.
In preparation to make the event as inclusive as possible once doors reopen for the big welcome back, the venue has been working hard behind the scenes over the past few months, and back in June 2020, it was even awarded GOLD status by Attitude is Everything – the disability-led charity with over 20 years’ experience improving Deaf and disabled people’s access to live entertainment.
AO Arena has said that its number one priority for the Blossoms gig is making sure that everyone’s visit is as safe and enjoyable as possible, and so has activated its ‘VenueShield’ programme – a comprehensive and best-in-class hygiene protocol that’s in practise at more than 325 ASM Global facilities around the world.
And through the arena’s partnership with Unilever brand, Lifebuoy, there are plenty of hand sanitiser dispensers around the venue to make it easy for everyone to sanitise their hands as they move around the arena – which will “inspire confidence” in the return to live events.
As restrictions have been lifted, the venue is asking music fans to enjoy themselves on Saturday with consideration to others by wearing a mask if possible and being prepared to show, if requested by a member of staff, proof that they do not currently have COVID-19, or that they have had both doses of the vaccine, or that they have previously had COVID-19 within the last six months.
Also in the name of safety, specialist detection dogs will be helping the venue to deliver a safe and secure environment for all visitors and employees.
It’s going to be a heck of a return to live music on the biggest stage in Manchester.
Featured Image – AO Arena
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”