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One Direction gig: A callous way to treat impressionable young people

By Fionola Meredith

Published 22/10/2015

Fans outside the SSE Arena celebrate the news that One Direction would honour their remaining two gigs in Belfast, and that the cancelled one was scheduled for tomorrow night
Fans outside the SSE Arena celebrate the news that One Direction would honour their remaining two gigs in Belfast, and that the cancelled one was scheduled for tomorrow night

It's just a band. You know it. I know it. But to the hundreds of girls denied the chance to see their idols in the flesh, One Direction's non-appearance was an almighty disappointment.

The levels of excitement had been sky-high, only to be dashed - at the very last possible moment - by a cursory announcement that the show would not be going ahead, due to the illness of Liam Payne. Sorry girls. Not happening. Clear away off home now.

Whatever you may think of the hysterical, tear-laden scenes which followed, surely the one thing we can all agree on is that these young fans were treated with scant respect.

To call such a hyped, highly-anticipated show off two minutes before curtain-up is deeply unfair to the audience members who gathered in good faith to see the band, having already bought expensive tickets.

Some of them had even camped out overnight to make sure they would get in to the show. Adult fans, I'd like to think, could cope a little more reasonably with the disappointment. But you can't blame the youngsters for bursting into sad, sore tears.

It's easy to be philosophical when you're 42, much less so when you're 12.

The particularly mean thing is that, in cancelling so late, the young fans (and their parents) had been waiting for hours and many of them had already spent a fortune on pre-gig merchandise. The mugs, the T-shirts, the branded key-rings - all the over-priced glitzy stuff that the girls were bound to be begging for, to mark the day they saw One Direction perform live. Except they didn't.

If Payne was feeling so poorly, why couldn't the announcement have been made much earlier? Why did they wait until the fans had loaded up on goodies and were in a state of mad, tremulous excitement?

Come to that, what exactly is wrong with Payne anyway? It's nothing serious, we are relieved to hear. But if it was bad enough to stop him performing, then surely there must have been some indications of impending illness. I can't imagine he just keeled over with a sore throat or whatever 10 minutes before the gig.

It's the cynicism - whether on the part of the band and its management, or the promoters - with which the situation was handled which is particularly distasteful.

Harry Styles tweeted his "deepest apologies", after the announcement to cancel was made. Right, Harry. But your sympathy didn't quite extend to coming on to the stage yourself, alongside your non-sick bandmates, and breaking the news to the audience in person. That would have been some consolation to the young fans, I would imagine.

Despite their deep disappointment, many youngsters immediately went online to send Liam Payne heartfelt get well soon messages. Such loyalty and devotion is impressive.

It's a pity that the love wasn't coming back the other way.

Belfast Telegraph

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