When a gig goes wrong: Pop music’s hall of shame

By Adrian York The Independent

Sia has been criticised for putting on a poor show in Israel; can fans get their money back?

Sia, pop singer, performs during the 2016 Coachella festival in April Getty

Israeli fans of Australian popstar Sia have reportedly filed a £1.6m lawsuit against her promoter because they felt short-changed by her recent live show. Unhappy punters paid £70 for a 65-minute performance in Tel Aviv that some felt was “too short” and “lacklustre”, while poorly-synched video and a “lack of banter” left some in her audience calling for their money back.

Sia had allegedly been pressurised to cancel her performance by the pro-Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement – so did this affect her performance or the way it was received? A review of her recent Coachella Festival appearance in music industry magazine Billboard makes it clear that the Californian concert was similar to the Jerusalem gig with the atmosphere being more of an arty contemporary dance event than a rock gig.

The promoter, Tandi Productions, commented that there had been “hundreds of comments from satisfied fans”, but the episode highlights the problems that can happen when an audience’s expectations aren’t matched by an act’s creative vision. However, the history of music is littered with examples of truly disastrous performances – here is my “Hall of Shame”.

Abuse of alcohol and drugs have been to blame for many shows going wrong. Fans of Amy Winehouse will have seen in director Asif Kapadia’s film Amy, the tragic decline in her performances. But booze-fuelled gig fails aren’t a new phenomenon. In the late 1950s, iconic country music performer Hank Williams was renowned for his alcohol-related performance issues.

The composer of such standards as Your Cheatin’ Heart, Hey Good Lookin’ and Jambalaya was well-known for not showing up at gigs – but his lowest point was in Dallas where the promoter took money from audience members who paid to go backstage to see the artist lying unconscious on the floor.

Williams, who suffered from Spina Bifida, is alleged to have used alcohol to ease the pain from the disease – but Keith Moon, the drummer from British rock band The Who, had no such excuse. On November 20, 1973, at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, “Moon the Loon” passed out on stage. He was high on animal tranquilisers and had to be carried off stage to be replaced by an audience member who played the rest of the set.

Hank Williams in 1951, a year before his death (Rex)

Scott Stapp, meanwhile, the singer of rock band Creed, was so intoxicated for their performance at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois on December 29, 2002, that he spent much of the show rolling around on the floor unable to remember any lyrics. He then passed out.

You can read more at the Independent

Ever felt cheated or let down at a gig? Tell us what happened, we’d love to know?

1 Comment

  1. Sam Beam of Iron & Wine too stoned or drunk or something to remember some of his lyrics or comment coherently between songs during an expensive gig at Sydney Opera House a few years back. Not impressive. And Damon Gough/Badly Drawn Boy so enraged in some ongoing very public battle of wits with the stage crew he had annoyed at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney many years ago that the whole second half of the gig turned into a darkly funny and embarrassing trainwreck.

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