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Manchester Arena GM James Allen on Take That’s Mini-Residency: ‘They’re More of a Spectacle’ Than Ever

Manchester Arena GM James Allen on how U.K. boy band Take That still moves tickets like it was the 1990s.

One of the United Kingdom’s top-grossing indoor venues, Manchester Arena in England, got a boost on the Billboard Boxscore chart for venues with capacities of 15,001 or more, ­landing at No. 2 thanks to the help of a mini residency from a ­homegrown boy band.

Take That ­performed five shows at its hometown arena, selling more than 71,000 tickets over five nights (April 22, 23 and 25-27) with a gross of $7.5 million. The concert series earned Take That the No. 4 spot on the Top 30 Boxscores chart for April, ­beating out fellow Brit Ed Sheeran (whose April 9 concert at the Tokyo Dome in Japan grossed $6.1 million).


The group has now performed at Manchester Arena 46 times since 1995, breaking its own record for the most concerts by a single act at the building. The largest indoor arena in the United Kingdom, Manchester Arena continues to pull in huge headliners, including recent shows from Blackpink and Hugh Jackman. GM James Allen explains how the venue made Take That feel at home.

What is Take That’s history with Manchester Arena?

When the building opened back in 1995, they were one of the first bands to play with us because they’re all from Manchester. They sort of disappeared off the radar for about 10-12 years, and then they came back to us around 2004 or 2005. Since then, they’ve been coming back [almost] every two years on one of their tours.

Why has the demand kept up even as they return so often?

You have to put it down to their fanatical fans. Not only were they playing Manchester Arena for five nights, but they were playing soccer stadiums that are only 30 miles away from us, one to the east and one to the west. In the northwest of England, they must have done in the region of 150,000 tickets.


Only three of the group’s ­original members — Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen — are touring. How do they generate the same ­excitement?

Their shows have developed. Now they’re more of a spectacle than they ever were. They have massive spheres — one has a stage within it that can go up and down. It looks like a Pac-Man that is a free-standing structure. They make a massive entrance via this sphere. It has screens, so they have a lot of artwork going around the sphere during the show. You can come and watch it for the graphics as much as you can for the singing and the dancing.

Does something that large take extra time to set up?

They came in on a Sunday so that they were ready for the Monday performance. That’s not normal. A normal show would come in the morning and be ready by the evening. It was about 35 trucks of equipment. An average concert here is probably 10-12 trucks.

Why did the venue change its name to “Take That Arena” during the group’s shows?

We don’t have a naming-rights partner at the moment, so we gifted them the name of the arena for one week only. All our social media channels changed. We put signage on the concourse. The boys thanked the venue onstage and retweeted a number of our posts, saying, “It’s so great to be home in our hometown arena.”

This article originally appeared in the May 25 issue of Billboard.