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Liverpool arena set for Eurovision had “unacceptable” congestion at gig

The Liverpool arena set to host Eurovision later this year has been criticised for having “unacceptable” congestion at a gig.

The congestion happened at a sold-out Jamie Webster show back in November 2022, when crowds built up and some fans reportedly felt too ‘panicked’ to go inside. Following the reports, the venue has labelled the incident as an isolated event.

At Webster’s show last winter, some fans complained that one area of the M&S Bank Arena felt unsafe after an electronic error meant that crowds began to gather in one part of the venue.

According to an investigation, the area became crowded when a new bar payment system crashed. This led to queues rapidly building up in the area, which then met the queues for the toilets and the main entrance.

“At least 15-20 people walked away and were just not dealing with it,” said fan Paul Lang at the time (via BBC News). “More people were coming out, getting a bit worked up, panicked about it, and just said, ‘It’s just not worth it for our own safety.’”

Liam Kelly, another fan who attended the show added that a steward tried to prevent more ticket holders from entering the venue upon seeing the crowds. However, she later “left” the area, resulting in “chaos at the door where everyone just started to walk in”.

There were no reported injuries following the incident, although the indie musician was forced to cut his set short due to the circumstances.

The venue is still scheduled to host the 2023 instalment of Eurovision, and operators at ACC Liverpool have confirmed that they have “revised the layouts and processes in relation to crowd flow”.

“This was an isolated incident with reports of overcrowding in one area by two of the floor bars. The crowd congestion was resolved, people were dispersed and the event was deemed safe to continue,” said managing director Faye Dyer (via BBC).

Jamie Webster. CREDIT: C Brandon/Redferns

“We immediately launched an internal investigation which has been completed [and] we are also accelerating plans to create additional bar and toilet facilities on the arena floor to further enhance the customer experience.”

For the final of the iconic contest – which will take place on May 13 – the arena’s capacity will be significantly reduced from 11,000 to 6,000. This is due to the size of the set.

Representing the UK at this year’s edition will be Mae Muller, who will perform her track ‘I Wrote A Song’.

Discussing the opportunity earlier this month, the London-based singer-songwriter described being chosen as “a dream”. “To compete in such a massive music competition is simply brilliant,” she said. “[The performance] is already looking insane… We’ve been working every single day, it’s just going to be amazing.”


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