Continuing my pop theme, I’ve been much amused to pick up an emerging debate within my favourite grumble sheet, regarding Lionel Richie’s descent into boredom. It inevitably began with a complaint about the young people who dominate our fair city. B Townsend of Burnage alleged they had insulted the great man by getting drunk and going to the toilet during Three Times a Lady. Young fan K Anderson of Heywood, hit back pointing out that the older fans were miserable and didn’t clap or cheer once. (Does s/he not realise old people are only happy when they’re miserable?)
Things got so bad, Townsend reports, that Lionel ‘commented that he could not see the point of paying to go to a concert and then not bother to listen to the singer’. Sound’s like a fair point (tickets aren’t cheap, Rod Stewart’s £40-£50), but it’s Lionel’s admission of failure. If your audience gets so bored after spending so much money you have to tell them to cheer up, you shouldn’t be on stage.
I’ve had the misfortune to experience similar from support acts twice, but never from the main attraction. First time was 21 June 1987, when a little heard of Texas got bottled off the stage at Cardiff Arms Park, where they were supporting David Bowie. It was the first concert held at that venue (Millennium Stadium’s there now) and before that the biggest thing the Welsh had seen was their own Shakey. The next time was 808 State supporting Madness at some Christmas special at G-Mex (no MEN Arena back then). 808 State just didn’t speak the Madness fans’ language. But in both cases I’d been looking forward to the support, had willed them to overcome the ill-suited crowd and had been gutted when they threw in the towel; ‘Please watch us, not the pyramid,’ Sharleen had pleaded. ‘You boring bastards,’ 808 State complained.
Anyway. If Lionel Richie really was a great man he’d have said, ‘Sorry I’m so shit tonight, I’m going to give you all your money back’