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15 of the most memorable gigs as Liverpool Arena celebrates 15 years

11 months ago

So many huge names have taken over the waterfront stage, it reads like a who’s who of music legends.

The Liverpool M&S Bank Arena is celebrating its 15th birthday and what an incredible 15 years of world-class concerts and events it’s been.

To mark the landmark anniversary, we’ve taken a look back at 15 of the most memorable gigs over the past decade and a half …

Liverpool Number 1 Project Live

In January 2008, just after it opened, the Arena got off to a flying start when a line-up of Scouse music stars – from The Farm to OMD and Atomic Kitten – came together at the Arena for a spectacular concert celebrating the proud fact that Liverpool has had more number one hit singles than any other city in the world. 

MTV Europe Music Awards

This was an unbelievable night that put the Arena on the music map across the world. In November 2008 our city was heaving with megastars as we hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards.  MCed by Katy Perry in so many different outfits we lost count, the show included performances from The Killers, Kid Rock, Kanye, Pink, Beyonce and Take That.


Queen B delivered one of the Arena’s most unforgettable gigs in 2009 channelling all the energy and star quality of Tina Turner with added bootyliciousness. In a set crammed with hits, kicking off with Crazy in Love, the stand-out had to be when 10,000 fans stood arms in the air chanting ‘to the left, to the left’ for the sisterhood anthem to top them all, ‘Irreplaceable’. 

George Michael

Just four years before his tragic death, George Michael returned to Liverpool in 2012 to mesmerise a packed-out Arena with a two-hour masterclass. Fans were treated to note-perfect solo hits like Father Figure, Praying for Time and A Different Corner, and a magical montage that slipped a Wham classic, I’m Your Man, in between Amazing and Freedom.

Elton – Farewell 

He’s already said it ranks as one of his top 5 shows ever and who are we to argue with that? Sir Elton brought the house down in March this year when his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour came to the Arena for two nights. The Rocket Man lit up the stage performing hit after hit from a back catalogue spanning 50 years-plus and for fans there could have been no better goodbye.


When the Gallagher brothers came to the Arena in October 2008, the mighty Oasis were already on borrowed time, going their separate ways a year later. But everything was on point for this gig, especially Liam’s vocals on staples like Rock ‘N’ Roll StarMorning Glory, Cigarettes And Alcohol and Champagne Supernova, as well as a blistering I Am The Walrus close.

MOBO Awards

All eyes were on Liverpool for awards season again and in 2012 was the MOBOs taking centre stage. Rita Ora flew in to hand out a gong alongside Plan B, and when it wasn’t all about the winners and not-so winners it was left to artists like Emeli Sande, JLS, Labyrinth, Conor Maynard and Trey Songz to shine with stellar live performances.

Lady Gaga

When Lady Gaga brought her Monster Ball World Tour to Liverpool in February 2010, she was riding high as the new Queen of Pop and the Arena was packed with devoted ‘little monsters’ dressed in the bizarre fashion image of their heroine, curling claws on demand. This was a powerhouse show featuring amazing live versions of hits like Just Dance, Paparazzi and Poker Face. 


Not many artists could command a stage like the legendary Meatloaf and in 2008 he was superb when he came to the Arena. He belted out an energetic set of 18 enormous songs including the unmissable Paradise by the Dashboard Light, I Would Do Anything and Bat Out of Hell of course, ending with a cover of The Beatles’ Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?


No list of Arena spectaculars would be complete without probably the most spectacular of them all – this year’s hosting of Eurovision. The Arena was completely transformed into an unreal showcase for artists from all over Europe, watched by a phenomenal 162million people worldwide. Plus, we were all there for the goddess that is Hannah Waddingham. 


With the fabulous Adam Lambert as frontman in place of the really irreplaceable Freddie, Queen rocked the roof off the Arena in 2017 with a goosebump-inducing set of stunning solos and huge singalongs. Lambert’s towering vocals did a fine job on everything from Fat Bottomed Girls and a hand-clapping Radio Gaga to the finale of all finales, Bohemian Rhapsody.


Once in a year just wasn’t enough for Pink in 2009 so she brought her Funhouse tour back for a second time in the October with a production that goes down as one of the most visually stunning spectacles ever seen at the Arena. With breathtaking acrobatics from trapezes high above the crowd, Pink performed hits like Who Knew, Don’t Let Me Get Me and Just Like A Pill.

Echo and the Bunnymen

Local heroes the Bunnymen were one of many incredible bands who sold out the Arena in its first year and this was a very special gig for the diehards. McCulloch was on sublime form, splitting their set into two, with early classics in one half and the entirety of Ocean Rain in the second, with a bonus of The Doors cover, People are Strange, for good measure.


Rihanna was going all-out to win ‘sexiest ever Arena gig’ in 2011 when she gave a dazzling show in Liverpool as part of her Loud tour. Pole dancing, handcuffs, chains, she brought the lot and that was just for starters. But the vocals were there too, and Only Girl In The World was an opener that brought a crowd reaction any artist would sell their nan for.

Bruno Mars

There’s Arena magic, and there’s never been a shortage of that, and there’s Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic which was on another level. In April 2017, Bruno came to Liverpool with his world tour fresh from an audience of almost 120million at the Super Bowl and two hours of solid disco funk from Finesse and Treasure through to an Uptown Funk finale.

For more on the Liverpool M&S Bank Arena click here.



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