- Famous Asake Concert. Three people remain in a critical condition after being injured in a crush at a gig at the Brixton O2 Academy that left several hurt.
Police were called on Thursday night to the show at the south London venue by Afro-pop singer Asake and the Met said the gig was abandoned part-way through.
One witness estimated 1,000 people turned up to the gig without tickets.
One of the crush victims said:
I couldn’t breathe and I completely passed out. I thought I was dead.
The woman, who was taken to hospital with suspected internal bleeding, said: “I took my last breath and I could not get any more oxygen. I was so scared.”
It was the third of three sold-out shows at the venue by the Nigerian singer, sometimes known as Mr Money. Before the gig, Asake had posted on Twitter asking fans not to try to gain entry unless they had tickets.
In a statement on the artist’s Instagram account, Asake said: “My heart is with those who were injured last night and caused any form of discomfort. I pray you get well soonest.
“I am also in the process of reaching out to individuals.
“I still do not have the full brief from the venue management themselves as to what led to the disruption at the entrance of the Brixton Academy, but we are thankful that all was peaceful at the end.”
The woman, who spoke to press agency UKNIP after being discharged from hospital, said: “I was just queuing up to give them my ticket and then the crowd out here was insane, they just came and pushed and I just fell down.
“I was trying to get up, people were stepping on my head, all over me. I had more than 10 people on top of me.
“A man pulled me out so when I woke up I was in the back of the ambulance.”
The woman, from Battersea in south London, suffered skinned knees and a black eye. She said she was still in disbelief about what had happened.
“I’m just grateful that I’ve come away with no broken bones; they thought I had internal bleeding but thank God they did a CT scan and I’m good.”
Two ladies fainted
In footage on social media, the crowd can be seen stretching from the road outside to the venue’s doors, with people screaming, shouting and struggling.
A video taken by someone outside the Academy shows crowds of people on a side street, with a woman heard saying that people are pushing others.
Akin Oluwaleimu, 53, from Kirby Cross near Colchester, went to the gig with his daughter Elsie, 14, but decided to return home after he said things turned “rowdy” outside with “a lot of pushing”.
“We tried to find out what was going on and were told they had just shut the door and they won’t allow people to go in.
“Some people were saying they were searching people who didn’t want to be searched; other people were saying that people came without their tickets.
“The police came between about nine-thirty and 10 and that’s when it became more rowdy.
Another witness, Jay Taylor, 24, from Greenwich, described how a minority of apparently ticketless fans tried to force their way into the venue despite pleas to stop.
People were literally jumping on each other and even on to the police
“It was about five or 10 past 10 when the stampede started happening. Up until that point there was no real question of safety. I didn’t realise what was happening until I spoke to venue organisers and the police.
“When I saw people actually starting to push on the doors my first thought was like: ‘Yes, there could be a stabbing just because when people get riled up together they do stupid things.’ That’s when I left.”
Journalist and author Jason Okundaye, who was also outside the venue at the time, said “there was absolutely zero communication” from Academy staff.
He added he went home after observing the dangerous conditions, saying: “Outside the venue was so unsafe, still slippery conditions because of the earlier snowstorm, freezing cold, a confused crowd and aggressive police dogs making the risk of a huge crush likely.”
Dogs were in attendance at the venue, multiple videos showed, but the Met Police said no police dogs were used in its response.
Police added one person had been arrested for assaulting an officer.
The O2 Academy Brixton has a standing capacity of nearly 5,000 people, according to its website.
The venue is opposite Brixton police station, partly explaining the swift response on Thursday night. There are plenty of officers at the scene and you can see broken glass on the floor by the door to the venue.
Underneath a “sold out” sign, the metal railings scattered across the pavement bear testament to what were chaotic scenes.
Cdr Ade Adelekan from the Metropolitan Police said the scene would be examined by specialist officers as part of an investigation which will be “as thorough and as forensic as necessary”.
He said: “This is an extremely upsetting incident which has left four people critically ill in hospital. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.”
The Met Police’s directorate of professional standards will view all material, including body-worn video footage from the officers at the scene, Scotland Yard said.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted to say he was “heartbroken”, adding: “My thoughts are with all those affected by the awful incident at Brixton Academy.”
Asake, whose real name is Ahmed Ololade, was nominated for BBC Radio 1’s Sound of 2023 award.
He had been described on the venue’s website as “one of the hottest breakout stars from Nigeria” and is touring his debut album, Mr. Money with the Vibe.
Born and raised in Lagos State, his songs are part of the Nigerian street-pop subgenre that blends Afrobeats with Amapiano, pop melodies and street-smart rap lyrics.
He had a breakout hit in 2020 with his single Lady.