O2 Academy Brixton announces reopening date 16 months on from deadly crush

The iconic Brixton Academy has announced its reopening date following 16 months of uncertainty after a deadly crush at a concert which killed two people.

Security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were killed when fans without tickets tried to force their way into a performance by Nigerian artist Asake, on December 15, 2022.

In January 2023, Lambeth council suspended the venue’s licence for three months while the investigation into the incident continued.

But in April last year, the 4,900 capacity venue came under threat of permanent closure after the Met submitted an application to the council calling on the venue to be stripped of its licence completely. 

In a statement police said they had “lost confidence in the premises licence holder,” Academy Music Group, after finding “large-scale disorder” had taken place on the night of the tragedy.

At the time, an Academy Music Group spokeswoman said: “Academy Music Group has co-operated fully with the Met and Lambeth council since the tragedy at Brixton occurred.

“We have had regular meetings and discussions at which we have presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely.”

After a two-day hearing in September last year, a licensing sub-committee voted to allow the venue to reopen – on the condition it met a long list of “extensive” improvements.

Police officers outside Brixton’s O2 Academy investigating the crush which led to four people sustaining critical injuries during a performance by  Asake (Picture: PA)

Today, the venue’s website has announced its first shows back will be two tribute acts to famous rock bands, including Nirvana UK and The Smyths, on April 19. 

Brixton Academy has also confirmed a second event on April 26, which will see Definitely Mightbe – a tribute act to Oasis – followed by UK Food Fighters  – a Foo Fighters tribute band. 

The news will be welcomed by major artists who have struggled to find venues for large shows in the capital since the closure.

During the hearing in September, Mazin Tappuni – who represents acts including Sam Fender and Lewis Capaldi – said artists were being put off visiting the UK because of the lack of appropriately sized venues.

Mr Tappuni said there was just one other venue in London, the Eventim Apollo, commonly known as the Hammersmith Apollo, which could hold a similar number of people to the O2 Academy Brixton.

But since O2 Academy Brixton has shut in December 2022, the Eventim Apollo said is has witnessed “unprecedented demand” from artists, and that it was now “almost impossible” to get a date at the venue.

Mr Tappuni said: “While I understand and acknowledge the tragic events that happened, we have never had any crowd or security issues at our Academy Music Group-operated shows. They are among the best in what they do.”

Pictured top: Brixton Academy with police cordons (Picture: Robert Firth) 

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