Bruce Springsteen launches Leeds Arena

Bruce Springsteen in 2013 Bruce Springsteen specially requested to "road test" the new arena in Leeds

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A new £60m music and events arena has been launched in Leeds with a special concert by US rock star Bruce Springsteen.

Thousands of fans attended the gig at the 13,500-seater First Direct Arena Leeds after the star requested to "road test" the venue.

It was Springsteen's first time in the city since playing an open-air concert at Roundhay Park in 1985.

Elton John is due to officially open the arena with a gig on 4 September.

'World-class star'

Earlier this year Springsteen personally asked to try out the new venue as part of his current Wrecking Ball world tour.

Leeds Arena The arena took two years to build at a cost of £60m

Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said he was "very excited" to see such a big name be the first to play the arena.

"At last we've got a world-class event and a world-class star," he said.

Leeds City Council contributed £20m to the arena, which took two years to build, with the rest coming from commercial parties.

'Great news'

Volunteer "city ambassadors" greeted fans arriving at railway and bus stations in Leeds to direct them to the new venue in time for the start of the concert.

Queuing outside the arena since Tuesday morning, Springsteen fan Steve Jefferies said he had always dreamed of seeing "The Boss" play in the city.

"The fact it is in Leeds makes it even more special. I'm very happy to see him in my hometown," he said.

Also attending the gig, Lisa Brown said the arena would be "brilliant" for the city.

"It's just so exciting to have it on your own doorstep. It's great news for Leeds."

Leonard Cohen, Vampire Weekend and Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs are among other acts booked to play the arena in the coming months.

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