Asake concert crush: what happened on the night at London venue | London

The evening should have been a thrilling one for fans of Asake, a Nigerian Afrobeats singer, songwriter and breakout star of 2022. Yet it ended in horror, as a crush outside Brixton O2 Academy last week led to the deaths of two people, leaving a Third person in a critical condition and several others needing hospital care.

To begin with, the incident was blamed on hundreds of people who turned up without tickets. When the gig was stopped after just two songs, a man came on stage to announceWe have stopped the show because they breached the door. You have got 3,000 people have broken the door outside.”

But some of those who were there said it was more complicated than that. The witnesses’ accounts raise serious questions about security at the venue and the police response.

According to some who were there, many people had gained entry to the venue without tickets before the show began.

Witnesses said that meant the venue filled up early, with hundreds of fans with tickets left in freezing temperatures outside.

Anna, not her real name, said she was surprised by the lack of security when she entered the building with her ticket at about 8.30pm. “It was the most poorly organized thing I’ve seen. There was no security there to [ask people to] form an orderly queue,” she said.

She was struck by how many people were already inside. “I remember discussing with my friend, ‘It’s already getting a bit packed in here and there’s no way everyone from outside has got in’.”

Meanwhile, frustration was growing among ticket holders outside. Isioma Daniel, 41, said she was waiting outside with her ticket at about 8.30pm when “suddenly the crowd just surged”.

The police were first called at 9.04pm after what the Metropolitan police said were “reports of a large crowd gathered outside the venue”.

Daniel said she started to feel “suffocated” and “hemmed in” in a back alley at about 9.15pm. She said she was worried about getting squashed by the crowd and injured by metal barriers.

She added: “The security guards had disappeared at this point. There were girls pleading with guys to try and lift them out. It was chaotic, and it was like that until about 9.30pm.”

Video from around this time showed a crowd packed into an alley beside the venue.

The Met said officers were again called again at 9.35pm to reports that people were “attempting to force entry into the venue”. Video from the foyer appeared to people forcing their way through the entrance.

Other footage shows someone being kicked on the tiled floor inside.

Daniel said: “The police had arrived but they were just standing there. I couldn’t understand why no one was telling us we weren’t going to get in. They endangered my life. No one’s going to kettle me in.”

In the auditorium some were growing impatient for Asake to appear on stage just before 9.30pm, with some tweeting to express frustration. It is unclear when the concert was cancelled, though reports began to emerge on Twitter that the event was being closed down around 10pm.

Anna suggested the crush happened when those leaving the auditorium met those coming in. “People were struggling to leave because there was a massive stampede outside,” she said.

It was in the foyer where two people sustained fatal injuries. They were Gaby Hutchinson, a 23-year-old security guard, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, a mother of two from Newham, east London. A 21-year-old woman, who remains in critical condition, was also injured in the foyer.

Anna said: “There was not enough security there. I just think the wrong message was being sent out initially that the people outside were hooligans. The majority of the people out there had tickets.”

Video emerged later showing police officers with batons appearing to throw a woman down the entrance stairs to the venue.

This incident is being investigated by the Met directors of professional standards. And the policing of the whole event has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, as is standard practice at fatal events that the police have attended.

Jason Okundaye, a Guardian contributor, was among those stuck outside with a ticket unaware that the show had been cancelled.

At 10.14pm he tweeted: “There was absolutely zero communication from Brixton O2. I was meant to be attending on a press pass/comp ticket and couldn’t get in anywhere. It’s not even clear if the show went ahead. Lots to answer for!”

In another tweethe said: “People who broke in came earlier and got in calmly before stuff got crazy, issue started once the venue reached capacity and people couldn’t get in any more.”

Okundaye said those locked outside the venue had been unfairly blamed. “I’m sure it was oversold or people got unknowingly sold fake tickets, there’s blame to be shared everywhere.” he tweeted.

It is not the first time there have been concerns about security lapses at the venue.

Only a week before, after a performance by Fred Again, users to the discussion site Discord said too many people had been allowed in. One user said the number of people admitted was “putting everyone in danger”.

Another said: “There are massive security flaws at the O2 Brixton show. If you want to get in you can … there’s a team of scalpers that work with the security team at the entrance of the venue.”

Milly Jenkins said she complained to the venue, the council and the Health and Safety Executive, when her daughter witnessed security staff taking money on the door for admission to the standing area at Slowtai concert in March. She said it was so crowded at least two people fainted and the show was interrupted.

The O2 Brixton Academy has been approached for comment about claims of security lapses. In a statement it said: “We continue to be devastated by this tragic situation and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *