Arcade Fire blaze the trail for castle's new £16m concert arena

AWARD-winning rock group Arcade Fire will be the first band to play in the new multi- million-pound arena at Edinburgh Castle this summer, The Scotsman can reveal.

The chart-topping Canadian group perform at the new facilities on 1 September, just days after the Edinburgh Military Tattoo puts on its last show of the year.

Traditionally, the summer concerts staged at Edinburgh Castle have taken place in July. However, this year they have been pushed back to September as organisers of the Tattoo, who are behind the 16m project, wanted to be the first to enjoy the spectacular facilities at the castle arena, which includes seating for 8,600, increased leg room and better toilets.

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Last night, a music source said: "Arcade Fire will be the first band to play in the new performance area at Edinburgh Castle. They are a hugely popular and influential band, so it is fitting they will be the first to put on a concert using the new Edinburgh Castle facilities."

Arcade Fire are one of three bands booked to play at Edinburgh Castle this year, and an official announcement from organisers, Regular Music, is expected today, with the other two acts to be confirmed later this year.

Tickets for the concert go on sale this Friday.

It is not the first time Arcade Fire have played in Edinburgh. In August 2005 they supported the hugely successful group Franz Ferdinand in Princes Street Gardens.

Since then the band, which consists of the husband and wife duo Win Butler and Rgine Chassagne, along with Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Jeremy Gara and Sarah Neufeld, have won numerous prestigious music awards.

Their third album, The Suburbs, went straight to the top of the albums chart last year and received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album, as well as a nomination for Album of the Year.

Band members, who play a wide-ranging mixture of instruments including, guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard, French horn, accordion, harp, mandolin and hurdy-gurdy, are also expected to play at a one-off event at London's Hyde Park in June.

As well as hosting the Tattoo, the new bowl-shaped arena will showcase other major events, including concerts, Festival shows and even sporting occasions.

Spectators will enjoy much greater leg-room, and many seats will have a better view of the esplanade.Better toilets, catering and merchandising are promised, and there will be improvements in facilities for corporate hospitality.

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However, a key benefit of the new arena - which has been three years in the planning - will be the huge reduction in the amount of time taken to build and dismantle the stands.

At present there are almost eight months of disruption at the esplanade to accommodate the seating, from early April until late November.

The 22-week construction programme is expected to be cut to just four weeks, meaning disruption from the event will be reduced to between early June and late September.