CONTRACT
Live events

A ticket holder at that recent Meat Loaf concert in Newcastle Upon Tyne where the rock legend walked off stage early because he was suffering from what turned out to be a cyst on his vocal cords is planning legal action to force promoters to give ticket refunds, and he is encouraging others to join him.  Promoters have said that Meat Loaf had performed for 70 minutes before ill health forced him to leave the stage, and that as such they do not deem it necessary to refund ticket holders, even though he did not complete the whole planned concert.

However, one fan, Mike Fisher, who paid over £50 for his ticket, claims that Meat Loaf actually only performed for 40 minutes and that that is not enough to justify the ticket price. He says his calls to the venue, promoter Kennedy Street and ticket seller Ticketmaster to discuss a refund have not been returned, and now he plans to take the case to the city’s small claims court, and he hopes to persuade other ticket holders to back his action. He told local newspaper The Northern Echo: “I am proposing that since we are
not getting any reply, we start proceedings [together] at Newcastle County Court to get our money back. I am sure [claiming together] would add weight to the argument, rather than 200 or 300 people sending in individual claims, which would cost £80 each. I am sure they [the venue and promoters] will have been inundated with individual claims and they can fob them off”.

When contacted by the paper, Paul Tappenden, the Marketing Director of the venue, the Metro FM Arena, stressed that the decision as to whether or not to give ticket refunds lay with the promoter: “They hire the venue for the day and we have no control over the show or the money – it goes to the promoter. Meat Loaf was on stage for one hour and ten minutes or so, and there was a support act. There is almost a rule that once a concert goes over an hour, it is perceived that a show has taken place”.

Our Special Contributor Marc Holmes adds:

Fans of test Cricket will be familiar with the rule that, should the inevitable English drizzle descend on a match day, and if 20 overs have been played, fans will not be entitled to a refund. However, who would have thought this somewhat harsh rule to extend into the realm of Stadium Rock? As CMU Daily are reporting, Meat Loaf fan Mike Fisher found this out the hard way, after the Texan Hard Rock balladeer walked off stage a mere 70 minutes into his set at Newcastle Metro Arena earlier this year. Mr Fisher – who clearly has never attended a punk rock show – found the curtailed appearance to be unacceptable, given he had paid in excess of £50 to see what he expected to be a characteristically epic performance. He has therefore commenced proceedings against the singer in the Newcastle County Small-Claims Court to retrieve the price of ticket, and is encouraging fellow disgruntled concert-goers to join him in a rock ‘n roll class action.

It must be said that by way of an excuse, Meat Loaf’s citing of a “cyst on his vocal chords”, does go some way to explaining the brevity of the night’s set and should, one might think, elicit some sympathy from die hard fans such as Mr Fisher. It is interesting to consider whether a reputation for concerts lasting well over the reported 70 minutes might at least create some legitimate expectation amongst fans that, on handing over their cash, this is what they will get. Perhaps such an expectation might have some force in the realm of the special bond between Meat Loaf and his English fans – long his most loyal – and might merit addressing through a special rescheduled show by way of apology.

However, no such expectation can really ever hope to have any force in the realm of English law, and much in the same way as Cricket-goers, concert-goers are forced to rely on the terms and conditions of their attendance found on the reverse of tickets. Without a copy of the promoter’s full terms and conditions to hand, we can’t be sure, but it seems highly unlikely that any promoter would risk having to refund clients should a defined number of songs not be played, nor a specified period of time elapse. The business of live performances by rock bands is traditionally far too unpredictable to be able to prescribe proceedings with such certainty, and neither would fans – in the vast majority of cases – want this. It seems unlikely that Mr Fisher will succeed in his claim, perhaps especially in the light of the Metro Arena’s insightful, if unwitting, unearthing of a useful convention: “that there is almost a rule that once a concert goes over an hour, it is perceived that a show has taken place” Thus, there might be hope for those attending a similar spectacle only to be rewarded with 15 minutes or so of music, however concert-goers shouldn’t expect to find any real answers on the back of their tickets!

CMU Daily 12 November 2007 http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk