Belfast Telegraph

One Direction's Belfast shows to go ahead - Liam Payne breaks silence after illness cancels first night

By Claire Williamson and Kirsten Elder

One Direction will be performing as planned in Belfast for the next two nights after their first night was cancelled when Liam Payne became ill.

There was chaos, tears and massive disappointment at the SSE Arena last night when One Direction suddenly cancelled their concet.

Around 30,000 fans have splashed out more than £1.6m on tickets.

The SSE Arena Belfast have said they were only made aware of Liam's illness "just before the band was due to perform".

Optimistic fans were queuing this morning in hope that tonight's scheduled show would go ahead.

And their dreams have come true as it has been confirmed that tonight and tomorrow night's One Direction concerts will be going ahead as planned.

Tuesday’s cancelled concert has been rescheduled for this Friday October 23.

All tickets from last night's postponed concert will be valid for Friday.

A spokeswoman for Aiken Promotions said: "Once again we apologise for the cancellation of last night’s One Direction show.  We thank everyone for their understanding and their good wishes to Liam.

"For anyone not able to attend the rescheduled Show on Friday, please contact point of purchase for detail of how to obtain a refund.

"We would also like to extend our sincere thanks to the Belfast Giants & Sheffield Steelers Ice Hockey Teams and fans for moving their Game on Friday."

However the Sheffield Steelers have hit out at the decision of moving the Belfast Giants branding it "unacceptable".

Operations Director Shaun Smith said "We believe this is a commercial decision taken by the arena in Belfast that will certainly inconvenience, disrupt and hurt financially both the club and our supporters. We await further communication with Belfast in due course."

However a spokesman for The SSE Arena Belfast said the decision wasn't taken lightly.

He said: "We did not take this decision lightly, given that the Belfast Giants and the team’s dedicated fans are very much part of the fabric here at The SSE Arena, Belfast.

“We understand how disappointed the Giants fans are and we will continue to work with Belfast Giants management and the Elite League to accommodate the Giants for a rescheduled game later in the season.

Thank you so much for all the trends and lovely messages you guys did for me it really shows how amazing u guys actually are

— Liam (@Real_Liam_Payne) October 21, 2015

“Again, we apologise to Sheffield Steelers fans who will be inconvenienced by this unprecedented turn of events and we are working closely with the Giants management team to evaluate the full impact.”

Meanwhile, Liam Payne broke his silence on Wednesday to say he was "so sorry to everybody I disappointed last night" and that he was feeling "much better now".

He tweeted: "I'm so sorry to everybody I disappointed last night. I'm feeling better now. I really hope everyone can make the rescheduled date on Friday.

As I said I'm feeling much better now and I really can't wait to perform and make it up to everyone later

— Liam (@Real_Liam_Payne) October 21, 2015

"Thank you so much for all the trends and lovely messages you guys did for me it really shows how amazing you guys are actually are.

"As I said I'm feeling much better now and I really can't wait to perform and make it up to everyone later."

General manager of the SSE Arena Belfast, Neil Walker said: "We are extremely grateful to the Belfast Giants and Sheffield teams and apologise to their fans for the inconvenience caused – we are very grateful to them for their understanding and accommodation of the nearly 10,000 young concert fans who were so devastated by the cancellation last night.

"We are now looking forward to three great nights of concerts at The SSE Arena, Belfast.

"We apologise again for the inconvenience caused last night and reassure fans that The SSE Arena, Belfast was only made aware of Liam’s illness just before the band was due to perform.

"Tickets for last night’s performance will be valid on Friday. For anyone not able to attend the rescheduled show on Friday, please contact point of purchase for detail of how to obtain a refund. "

Some had forked out hundreds of pounds for tickets, and for many children it was to be their first ever concert.

A spokeswoman for the organisers said 22-year-old Payne was not seriously unwell, but he was not able to sing. Payne, who does not drink, has kidney problems.

Singer Harry Styles tweeted: "Deepest apologies to everyone at the show tonight in Belfast. Very disappointed, but unfortunately these things happen. We're very sorry."

And band member Louis Tomlinson tweeted: "We're so, so sorry for what happened tonight, it was out of our control. Lots of love to Liam and thank you for being so understanding."

It was to be the first of three nights the boyband were due to play in Belfast during their On The Road Again tour - and is understood to be the band's first ever cancellation.

Devastated Directioners who had come from far and wide for the gig were left stunned by the news, which came after the support act had played.

Boos, shrieks and disbelief filled the arena as the announcement was made on the stage.

The announcement said: "The show tonight has been cancelled as Liam has taken ill, and whilst not serious, he is unable to perform tonight."

A band spokeswoman said: "Please hold on to your tickets. The band apologise to the fans and wish Liam better."

None of the band members appeared to address the crowd.

Many fans had queued since the morning to get to the front of the arena, and many wondered why the concert organisers could not have informed them earlier.

Many teenagers had arranged lifts with parents for after the event and, with the bad weather outside, confusion reigned following the announcement.

The PSNI warned of traffic disruption as parents began to arrive while those with cars were leaving.

Within minutes the top trending Twitter hashtag in Belfast was #GetWellSoonLiam. Ballymoney teens Amy McCaw (16) and her friend Amy Millar (17) got out of school early especially to make the trip to Belfast to see their favourite band. But they were left out of pocket and upset after the cancellation.

Each had spent around £100 between the tickets, the train fare and food.

They were annoyed at how the cancellation had been handled. "They would have known an hour before and there were rumours that Liam had food poisoning, but now we are left standing here in the rain waiting for lifts," Amy Millar said.

"One Direction are going to lose fans over this.

Carla Brown was heading for bed a lot earlier than expected after she was left in tears at the news. The nine-year-old from Carrickfergus was assured, however, by her big sister Gemma (24) that she'll eventually get to see her idols.

"I'll get her to see them somehow, someday," she said, hugging the young girl shivering in the cold and wet October night.

"We paid over £200 way back last year for four tickets but they haven't promised anything about the ticket yet so we don't know what's going to happen," Gemma added.

"I had to take the night off work to bring my sister here and I'm waiting for surgery for me knee, and if I can come here surely they can get on stage and sing a few songs," she said.

It was supposed to the culmination of a brilliant day out for an inconsolable Aoife O'Hagan and her granny Bernie Bell from Antrim.

But it ended in tears for the Slemish College student, who had been bought the tickets by her granny for her birthday.

"It was a wee day out and we went out for dinner and came here early and got a T-shirt and poster and all rest, but instead she's been in tears.

"When the wee man came out and made the announcement I honestly thought it was a joke," she said.

Ten-year-old Caoimhe O'Rourke travelled from Newry for the night with her aunt Christine.

"We left early and she got her homework all done early," said Christine.

Visibly upset, Caoimhe bore no hard feelings towards the band though. "It wasn't really their fault," she said.

It was a case of third time unlucky for Leah McPoland (14) and her friend Patrice Scott (15), who had come from Dunloy for the gig. "We're heartbroken," they said.

"This was supposed to be my third time because I've seen them in Dublin before and here once, and Patrice has seen them once before," said Leah.

Among some of the older fans at the gigs, Bangor teachers Julie Gillespie and her sister-in-law Ashleigh Haslam said it was so sad to see some of the youngest fans - who they estimated to be no older than three - "sobbing their wee hearts out" after learning One Director were not going to show up.

Even Belfast broadcaster Eamonn Holmes was annoyed by the cancellation. "I don't care who was sick in One Direction. The rest of them should have had the decency and maturity to appear on stage and explain," the This Morning presenter tweeted.

Cancellations, illness and injuries - Stars who faced affliction

1. Dave Grohl - Broke his leg in the second song of a set in Sweden. He returned later to play the rest of the gig with his leg bandaged

2.Jedward - Edward Grimes of the duo was rushed to hospital with a suspected broken leg after he fell over on stage. But he continued to the end of the set before

3. Sam Smith- The James Bond theme singer cancelled a series of shows due to a haemorrhage on his vocal cords. He cancelled a series of shows in Japan and Manila and was forced to cancel the second half of his Australian tour.

4. U2 guitarist The Edge - Dave Evans. He carried on after he walked off the edge of the walkway connecting the main stage and the B-stage at the Rogers arena in Vancouver.

5. Kelly Clarkson - On doctor's orders the American Idol winner was forced to cancel her UK tour for "vocal rest" which was due to kick off on November 12. Clarkson also pulled her remaining US tour dates and cancelled 10 shows in Canada and Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph


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