Doors at the Olympia Theatre, were to open at 7pm. The support act would take to the stage at 8. Showtime for Erasure was 9pm. The excitement was palpable.
When I tried to buy tickets approximately three months ago, all three dates for the ‘World Be Gone’ tour, which was opening in Dublin were sold out. I was disappointed, as I was a fan. I must have been asleep at the wheel when the tickets went on sale. Obviously I wasn’t going to look for a ticket on Seatwave – that company which is part of the Ticketmaster mafia, created to relieve fans of as much money as possible while avoiding any kind of regulation. Ticketmaster owns Seatwave, who through some amazing good luck and coincidence seem to have access to hundreds of premium priced tickets for sold out shows, mere seconds after a high demand concert goes on sale.
No. I would wait and try closer to the date.
Serendipitously I received a call on Friday, asking if I was keen to see the band on Monday. A friend had sourced some seats.
My heart skipped a beat and I agreed, with the grace and speed of an arthritic gazelle.
The weekend was largely spent revisiting their old music – so many tunes and hits. So many forgotten memories. As a schoolboy I’d been fascinated by them – sparkly Andy and dour Vince. Andy was out of the closet in a monumental way in the 1980s, which to a National Health bespectacled youth like myself was major. Massively in awe of him, but terrified to announce that I was a fan – as that would reveal my inclinations. The devious mind of the closet case. The soaring voice and beats of the music were very beautiful.
While he never sang directly to a boy, neither did he sing directly to a girl. All very bohemian for an acned, Limerick teenager.
So on Monday, the excitement was high. This was going to be epic.
The crowd was milling about the theatre early. Some of the more devoted fans were already queuing – in order to get to a prime location close to the stage.
At 6.15pm (45 minutes before doors opened) the announcement came that the show was cancelled due to an illness.
There was an audible sound of annoyance and frustration. I live very close to the Olympia so it was not a major issue for me. That poor sod who had flown in from England that afternoon was another matter. Dublin on a Monday in January is not exactly a kicking town when you suddenly find yourself unexpectedly free for the evening. Any person who had travelled a distance to get there, or spent money on babysitters; or taken time off work to attend must have been livid.
When I got home there was a statement on the Erasure website which read: “It is with great regret that we have to announce that, due to illness, tonight’s Erasure show at Dublin Olympia cannot go ahead. Andy Bell saw a throat-specialist earlier today about an infection he’s been battling and has been advised not to sing. We are hoping that the band will be able to resume the start of their World Be Gone Tour at the same venue tomorrow night. A further update will be issued 12 noon tomorrow. All tickets for tonight’s concert will remain valid for a rescheduled date on 13th March 2018. Andy and Vince are devastated to have to do this, and at such short notice.”
Suddenly all these fan messages started appearing wishing Andy a speedy recovery.
I didn’t leave any such treacly message. You see I was rather pissed off. Naturally I want Andy Bell to feel better, and quickly. But I don’t understand how come it was left until minutes before the theatre opened to cancel the gig. What time of the day had he seen the throat specialist? Why had the appointment been so late if he was dubious about his ability to perform? Why was the announcement so last minute? Perhaps I am naïve but I didn’t think you get a sudden attack of a sore throat; doesn’t that develop over a few days?
‘Devastated’ they may well be, but in their statement they really ought to offer a full refund – including all booking fees – to anyone who cannot make the rescheduled date. The money spent by people, on flights, petrol and babysitters is gone of course. But they can’t assume that everyone will be able to make the rescheduled date. It is all so ropy and shoddy.
And disappointing – people thought they had paid for the opening night of a tour. Now even if Erasure reschedule (which is perhaps up for debate – can you rely on a group that cancels so close to performance time?) those fans for the new date, are getting a mid-tour show.
Maybe it was genuinely outside their control but it was nonetheless very frustrating.
I know I sound peevish and grumpy. That’s because I am. I’m not going to engage in pious, virtue signalling wishes of speedy recoveries to Andy Bell.
Wishing him well is a given.
I am just very disappointed.