15 February 2010

a cautionary tale of cancellations, common courtesy and imogen heap

First time I saw Imogen Heap was in 2006 at the Carling Academy in Newcastle with my mother. We both loved it, but Babs didn’t like standing up the whole time, so for Christmas this year I thought it would be nice to book us some tickets to see her at the Sage in seats. So I did, and that should have been tonight. HOWEVER, we get there at about half seven, see on the sign that she’s due to be on at 21.05, with the first support act starting at 8. It got to twenty past eight and they still hadn’t let anyone in, and then Imogen announces over the loudspeaker that she has to cancel due to sore throat and that we can either queue up for a refund, or hang around for a “Q and A session” with her.

Fair enough, a sore throat means she can’t sing. I don’t dispute that much. HOWEVER, according to twitter, she’s had this sore throat since at least friday – so it’s no surprise to her. So with a little foresight and common courtesy she could have very easily cancelled in advance (especially given that the majority of her fan base are twitterholics it would have taken little more than a tweet at 4 or 5 o’clock) rather than waiting until 50 minutes after the tickets told you to be there (convenient really- plenty of time for people to buy merchandise and drinks from the bar).

Maybe I will get a refund for the £35 for the tickets, but not the £5 booking fee, or indeed the £57 train tickets from London, or the fiver my mother put on the car-park. Definitely won't get the 2 days of my annual leave I used back.

Very annoyed.

She says on Twitter that she’ll introduce the support acts, who will still play, and that “I think they are worth the £15 alone” – perhaps they are, but the tickets were £17.50 and I definitely wouldn’t have travelled up from London especially to see two bands that I’ve never heard of.

Just not good enough, we’re not grammy award winners. £35 is a lot of money!

I've seen her three times, and she is easily in my top five favourite live performers, but after tonight's flippant regard for her fans it will definitely be a long time before I listen to her again.

On the way out we overheard someone say: "I've never been to a cancelled gig before" his friend replied with: "it's hardly a momentous occasion" ... my sentiments exactly.

1 comment:

James said...

Whilst it's understandable that you're disappointed, I think you're being a little harsh.

I think you will find that the reason Imogen left it so late to announce that she wasn't going to be able to perform a full show was because she herself was hoping she'd be fit enough to do so. No performer likes cancelling a performance (it is after all what they do!) and often when 'cancellations' (and I use the term loosely as this performance wasn't cancelled) do occur they are at the 11th hour as the performer does everything they can to make the show happen, right up until the last minute.

Onto the 'cancellation' bit - not only did Imogen not cancel the show all together, against her better judgement (and the judgement of those around her who she stated on Twitter were encouraging her to pull the show due to her state of health) she did what she could - and gave her loyal fans *something* instead of *nothing*. It might not have been what you had paid for, but surely some form of Imogen Heap experience would have been better than non at all?

Many an artist would have pulled the show and gone back to their hotel to rest, but Imogen did what she could under the circumstances for the benefit of her fans.

Would an artist who had a 'flippant regard for her fans' really go to such lengths if that were the case? I don't think so.

I understand that you're disappointed, but implying she waited for people to come in and buy drinks and merch before 'cancelling' is just not how she does things - and hopefully if you're as big a fan as you claim and have followed her closely you realise that.

Perhaps the intention was to let people in so that A) they weren't left outside in the cold waiting and B) because she was trying to figure out an alternative to what was planned?

I personally would have stayed for the show because it would have been even more unique than her 'normal' shows are. How many people get the chance to see Imogen Heap play piano improv live and then get a Q&A session? I'll tell you - not very many at all!

So whilst this wasn't what anyone paid for - anyone who chose to stay got something way more unique.

Unfortunately for you the travel money isn't something you or Imogen can do anything about. It's one of the risks you take when travelling to a concert - and again, at least in this instance Imogen offered some kind of compensation in terms of the improv and Q&A instead of just cancelling out right, leaving everyone to go home with no Heap whatsoever.

At the end of the day, the lengths Imogen has gone to in order to include her fans with her career and music such as album artwork competitions, tweetups, video chats, online cello auditions, the grammy twitter dress, and numerous other fan-centred idea show that she's not someone who has a flippant regard for her fans - far from it indeed.

I'm sorry you didn't have a great night - I hope you're able to see her again ASAP to make up for it.