O2 Academy Brixton closure has seen major music acts missing UK from world tours

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Bands are missing the UK from their world tours because of the closure of the O2 Academy Brixton, a music promoter has claimed.

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 an appropriately sized venue to put on a large show in the British capital.

Mr Tappuni made the comments on the first day of a two-day council licensing hearing at Lambeth Town Hall on Monday, which will determine the future of the O2 Academy Brixton.

The famous music venue has been shut since a fatal crowd crush outside an Asake gig in December last year left two dead.

Gabrielle Hutchinson, 23, a security worker, and mum-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, a nursing graduate, died from injuries they sustained in the crush outside the venue. A 21-year-old woman injured on the night remains in a serious condition in hospital.

Speaking in support of an application to reopen made by the Academy Music Group (AMG), which operates the venue, Mr Tappuni said artists, managers and promoters had found themselves in an “incredibly challenging” situation since the venue’s closure.

He said: “On a tour of this level artists use their large London show as an anchor. This show generates the most revenue, which means the profits can cover the costs of smaller regional shows.

“Without that show what we’re seeing is international artists just cancelling their UK tours or choosing not to tour here.”

Mr Tappuni added 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 he said since the 4,900 capacity O2 Academy Brixton had shut in December last year, the Eventim Apollo had witnessed “unprecedented demand” from artists, and that it was now “almost impossible” to get a date at the venue.

Mr Tappuni added: “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.”

Mr Tappuni was one of eight people, including music and night-time industry workers, representatives from local businesses and customers who spoke in favour of AMG’s bid to reopen the Brixton venue.

Councillors are also considering another application made by the Met to revoke AMG’s licence to run the venue entirely, which would see the O2 Academy Brixton closed indefinitely.

Philip Kolvin KC, representing AMG, told the hearing that the venue’s operator had beefed up security and health and safety measures at the O2 Academy Brixton following the fatal incident last December.

A new crowd management company, Showsec, has been brought in to manage security at the venue, the number of CCTV cameras at the venue has increased as part of the improvements, and test events would take place before it reopened properly, Mr Kolvin KC said.

He said the venue’s doors, which were breached during the December 2022 incident, had been strengthened to stop them being pushed inwards and their handles removed to stop the doors from being pulled outwards.

Mr Kolvin KC added: “There will not be a way into this venue without having an appropriate ticket.”

Pictured top: The O2 Academy Brixton the morning after the fatal crowd crush (Picture: PA)

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