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Bocelli confirms Hydro date delayed by building issues

EXECUTIVES at Scotland's major new music venue have come under renewed fire after opera star Andrea Bocelli confirmed he was asked to postpone a gig because of construction issues.

CHANGE OF BILLING: Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli will sing two weeks later than planned and Rod Stewart will host the opening night.
CHANGE OF BILLING: Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli will sing two weeks later than planned and Rod Stewart will host the opening night.

The singer's management have moved to dismiss claims the singer put off his show at the Glasgow Hydro by two months to allow Rod Stewart to have the honour of having the opening concert at the new venue on September 30.

They say they were told the Hydro arena would not be ready when the Italian classical singer was scheduled to appear on September 15.

The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre denied the rescheduling had anything to do with construction delays to the £125 million arena as the Bocelli concert was put back to November causing anger among fans. It had wanted Rod Stewart as the opening concert on September 30.

Another event, Peter Pan – The Never Ending Story, which was due to take place at the Hydro from September 27 to 29, was also to be held in hall four of the SECC's main building.

Pentagon Music Management, which represents the singer, moved to clear up the "confusion" over why the singer's performance had to be rescheduled, while fresh concerns surfaced about future planned concerts at the venue.

They said: "We were informed that there were doubts as to whether the delivery of the Hydro, including the readiness of the technical facilities within it, would meet the deadline for the performance, initially scheduled on Sunday, September 15, 2013.

"The venue owners suggested that in order to ensure that the Andrea Bocelli performance would not have to be rescheduled again, we should consider moving the event to Saturday, November 23, 2013. We remain confident that the venue owners will meet this new deadline so the fans will be able to experience Andrea Bocelli's beautiful classical show."

They said anyone unable to attend the new date should contact their point of purchase for a refund and added: "Andrea Bocelli, Pentagon Music Management, Kilimanjaro Live and Harvey Goldsmith would like to apologise for any inconvenience this has caused to fans."

The rescheduling came days after The Herald revealed the new venue could open in late November, due partly to a £9m dispute with its main contractor Lend Lease, with board members warned some gigs could be cancelled.

However, it angered fans, who lodged complaints with the Hydro. They had been buying tickets for the Bocelli show since they went on sale in January.

One fan said of the latest development: "I don't know what to believe now. I just hope the arena will be ready for the new show."

Caroline Smyth, from Northern Ireland, who was left "totally peeved" having had flights and a hotel booked for the September show said: "We have had to go to the expense of booking flight and accommodation for the new date.They'd better be there or there will be trouble. Let's keep our fingers crossed."

The SECC had strenuously denied the 12,000-seater venue, sponsored by Scottish Hydro, was two months behind schedule.

An SECC spokeswoman said at the time of the rescheduling that the original timescale for the opening act had changed.

She said: "Andrea Bocelli was never intended to be the first concert, but negotiations with the opening artists have taken some time to organise, given their tour and other commitments. We will still be ready to open with Rod Stewart at this fantastic new venue in September."

Details of Rod Stewart opening the Hydro on September 30 surfaced three days before the operators announced the rescheduling of the Andrea Bocelli show. Last night, SECC spokeswoman Kirsten McAlonan said in a prepared response: "The construction of the Hydro was due to be completed by Lend Lease in time for a September opening and this remains the case.

"As the Andrea Bocelli concert was scheduled for September 15, we wanted to avoid any risk of the building running late, spoiling the opportunity for fans to see Andrea.

"We decided it was prudent to work with the artist's management and promoter to accommodate a certain Hydro date rather than a provisional Hydro date. We look forward to the Hydro opening in September as promised."

The venue is projected to host more than a million visitors every year, which would make it the fifth busiest arena in the world.

MARTIN WILLIAMS

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