A couple of Madonna fans are suing her for starting a concert late. It wasn’t just a few minutes, but two hours.
The tickets listed an 8:30pm start, but she didn’t hit the stage until after 10:30pm. That meant the crowd didn’t file out after the Wednesday night show until 1am, at which point the fans claim in their lawsuit they were “confronted with limited public transportation, limited ride-sharing, and/or increased public and private transportation costs.” Not to mention that many of the 14,000 in the arena probably had to be up early the next morning for work or getting their kids ready for school.
Madonna’s reps blamed the delay that night on technical problems during the sound check. But — not so coincidentally — she also began her show similarly late on two other dates at the same venue in the same week, which means 28,000 more were also inconvenienced.
I’m reminded of a piece I wrote in October, 2009, after encountering a similar situation at a Bruce Springsteen show:
The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30pm, but the band didn’t hit the stage until an hour later. I know he has a reputation for late starts, but this was ridiculous. His roadies didn’t even bring out the set lists (and tape them to the floor in front of each musician’s position) until 8:10pm. Then, five minutes later, they returned with new set lists to replace the old ones. Why? Bruce had the entire day to decide which songs he’d play that night, and since 8 of them were pre-determined by his decision to play his seminal 1975 “Born To Run” album all the way through, it should not have been difficult to flesh out the rest of the list before the scheduled showtime.
Maybe I’m a stickler for this sort of thing because of the business I work in. In radio, we don’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m not quite ready yet, so the audience will just have to wait.” When the second hand hits the top of the hour, the show starts and we’re on, no matter what, so we’d better be prepared.
I wouldn’t have minded so much if Bruce had been 10-15 minutes late, to allow the last-minute stragglers to buy their beer and tour t-shirts before getting to their seats, but an hour is way too much. It was even worse for those on the floor, who bought general admission tickets and didn’t even have seats. They were on their feet for a long time before the three-hour-long concert even started — and since most of Bruce’s fan base is around my age, that’s not as easy as it was the first time we heard “Thunder Road.”
This conduct by performers is nothing less than outrageous.
If someone agreed to meet you for dinner, but didn’t show up until an hour or two later, you would be furious. Imagine having to wait that long for an Uber to pick you up when the app says it will be there in three minutes. If your night out was spoiled by a babysitter being so unpunctual, you’d find someone else to watch your kids.
I’ve gone to a lot of plays and musicals, none of which ever delayed the first act that long. No sporting events regularly kick off a hundred minutes late. I don’t know of any employer who would put up with an employee consistently showing up so tardy.
We can all understand how scheduled activities can be impacted by circumstances. We’ve gotten stuck in traffic or had our car break down or had to rush to an emergency room. But this has become standard operating procedure for Madonna and others.
According to CBS News:
The suit notes Madonna’s history of late concert starts. In 2012, a Madonna concert in Miami didn’t start until around 11:30 p.m. The singer’s Melbourne concert in 2016 started more than four hours late while her Brisbane show that same year was delayed by two hours. “There’s something that you all need to understand,” Madonna said during a Las Vegas concert [in 2019]. “And that is, that a queen is never late.”
That is arrogant bullshit. She owed her audience a heartfelt apology, not some flippant equivalent of “screw you!”
I hope the fans win in court — and other performers take note and knock it off.