Don’t bring me down: a brief history of stage-side shoves from Noel Gallagher to Justin Bieber
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Monday 06 May 2013
There was drama in Dubai on Sunday night when Justin Bieber, the tantrum-prone popstrel, was grabbed by a fan. He came from behind while the Beebs was singing “Believe” at the piano and tried to embrace him. But a minder hurtled across the stage and wrestled him to the ground, knocking the piano off the dais. It was initially unclear whether the teen dreamboat was underneath – fans could be heard shrieking “Justin! Justin! Oh my gahhhd…” – but soon he could be seen skipping across the stage, out of harm’s way.
It was a reminder of how perilous things can be when you’re performing up there. As Robbie Williams found out in February 2001, in Stuttgart’s Schleyerhalle stadium, when a 20-year-old fan, believing him to be “a clone”, ran at him from behind and pushed him off stage. Williams landed in a security pit. He wasn’t badly hurt and returned for six more songs, while the fan was sent to a secure psychiatric unit.
Less fortunate was the prog-rock exponent Frank Zappa at London’s Rainbow Theatre in 1971 when, during an encore, an audience member pushed him off the stage. Zappa fell into the orchestra pit, which had a concrete floor; he suffered multiple fractures, head and leg injuries that put him in a wheelchair for six months, and a crushed larynx, which dropped his singing voice by three tones.
Noel Gallagher, the Oasis guitarist, encountered an unwelcome pusher while performing at Toronto’s Virgin Festival in 2008. Bang in the middle of “Morning Glory” (“Need a little time to wake up wake up…”) a man rushed across and pushed Noel off stage into the audience. He returned to finish the gig, despite having three broken ribs. God know what injuries the assailant sustained after being grabbed by security men (and Noel’s brother Liam) and hustled out of sight.
Occasionally, an assaulted rocker (step forward, Keith Richards) has retaliated by bashing the intruder with a guitar. But one needs to exercise caution. Two months ago, Randy Blythe, lead singer with the rock band Lamb of God, was standing trial for manslaughter in Prague, after a 2010 concert when he “violently” pushed a teenage fan, Daniel Nosek, off the stage. Nosek later had surgery to reduce swelling in the brain but lapsed into a coma and died. Blythe faced a minimum five-year jail sentence, but was acquitted, because his actions “did not constitute a crime”.
But it’s hard to know exactly what the rules are when you’re standing 10ft above the crowd, with 10,000 decibels blasting from behind you, 10,000 faces in front of you, and one envious little so-and-so determined to bring you down…
Arts & Ents blogs
The Independent Bath Literature Festival: 'Top Gear' makes Saudis look liberal, Kirsty Wark tells book festival
Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
Mad about the girl: The cult of Veronica Mars
Stewart Lee: Beware - this man may be only joking
Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
- 5 Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry