Lady Gaga? Cher? The Village People? Who would you choose to open Edinburgh’s Arena? - Liam Rudden

CHER? Billie Eilish? Lady Gaga? Who would you choose to open the Edinburgh Arena at Straiton, plans for which I revealed earlier this week?

Friday, 6th December 2019, 5:14 pm
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 5:16 pm
Robbie Williams

Yes, the news that the Capital’s music scene has long been waiting for, that we are finally get our very own arena, broke on Monday. No more traipsing through to Glasgow to see that favourite band, soon there will be a purpose built, 8000-seat ,indoor arena on our doorstep.

The capacity is important; there has long been a dearth of suitable medium-sized venues in the city, the best currently being the Castle Esplanade, which can accommodate 7000 revellers a night for the annual Castle Concerts series.

The advantage the new Edinburgh Arena will have over the Castle is two-fold, unlike the Esplanade it will be available all year around and not restricted to the weeks leading up to the Tattoo, when the seating is in place. Second, visitors to the arena will not have to play victim to the vagaries of the Scottish weather. An indoor venue, at the arena there will be no sitting in the rain as Blondie belts out Heart of Glass.

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The arena should also complement other city venues such as The Playhouse and Edinburgh Corn Exchange, which both boast capacities of 3000 and, at the other end of the scale, the likes of Murrayfield Stadium, which boasts a whopping capacity of around 65,000.

There’s is little doubt it will prove an attractive prospect for promoters and A-list artists alike and can only add to the city’s already vibrant live music scene.

Venues such as The Queen’s Hall, Liquid Room, Usher Hall and Leith Theatre, who also provide popular platforms for performance (along with many smaller venues), are sure to continue to thrive too, with little threat from the new development.

And, of course, the arena will also act as a conference and exhibition centre and provide a valuable, comfortable and easy to access venue on the outskirts of the city. That said, it will also be worth watching developments at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens, where redevelopment plans include a proposed concert arena with a capacity of ‘at least 5000’.

You wait generations for an arena and then two come along at once. Only time will tell if the Capital has the demand to ensure that both thrive and flourish.

My only hope is that both arenas do not affect the Castle Concert series. Despite the unreliability of the weather, nothing beats sitting high on the Castle Esplanade on a balmy summer’s night listening to one of your favourite bands. Everyone from Tom Jones to Duran Duran and from Pink to Leonard Cohen have played there, and that legacy must continue.

Which brings me back to that opening night in the far distant future... who would I choose for the opening night of the Edinburgh Arena?

Robbie Williams would work. Wouldn’t he?