Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Justin Bieber and the English

Bieber turned up outrageously late at the O2 and caused children to be abducted by white slavers. Or did he?

Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 21:01


As regular readers will be aware, I am a close personal friend of Justin Bieber. About two years ago I attended a press conference for the launch of some film or other in which he sang his dreadful songs at several stadia full of damp-thighed adolescents. There was something indecently, entertainingly off-key about the experience. Here we were gathered — about 30 journalists — in the presence of this Canadian boy-thing idolised by a squillion bearers of the Bieberian Orb. And, for the most part, we couldn’t give a toss. He seemed severely taken aback. American journalists pretend to a degree of enthusiasm. When, however, he shook his head in a Beatle spasm at the Brits and Micks, we just shrugged back at him. I recognised that look on his face. It was the same one that Nicolae Ceaușescu wore when — liberated by hope — the Romanian hordes began jeering at him on his balcony. (Please do not notify Operation Yewtree about the picture above.)

Anyway, I thought of this when hearing that the crowd had turned against Bieber at the O2 in London last night. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no more time for Bieber’s ghastly warbles than the next sane adult. All other pop-stars seem, in comparison, as abrasive, innovative and challenging as Karlheinz Stockhausen. But this was just crazy. The original story claimed that he was two hours late and, as a result, various little darlings were left hopelessly stranded in a mean corner of the London docklands during the smallest of the small hours. On closer analysis, it transpires that this figure was derived by adding two hours onto the time printed on the ticket. It seems, however, that this was the scheduled time for the whole show to start, not for Justin to begin his own caterwauling. Bieber could reasonably be expected to descend from heaven about an hour after that. In the event, he turned up at 10.20.

So this massive furore (to which I’m adding) results from a pop star turning up 40 minutes later than expected. You’re having a laugh aren’t you? I once travelled to the old Wembley Arena to see Van Morrison play and then watched — annoyed, but not amazed — as he left the stage half-way through and refused to come back. I’ve seen singers collapse on stage and never fully recover. Heck, I had tickets for Nirvana in 1994 and, a few months beforehand, they just cancelled for no decent reason. What was that all about?

I am slowly getting round to some vaguely worthwhile remarks. Firstly, observe how much the English love whinging about people being late. I am a very sound timekeeper myself. But, looking at the parents whining on the telly, you’d think that Bieber had called round to their house in person and crapped in their children’s sandpit. Secondly, consider how squeakily clean pop has now become. That’s good in a way. Nobody wants to see bands exploited by sexually rapacious hoodlums as they too often were in the 1970s. It’s better that things don’t start too darn late and too messily. But Bieber takes good behaviour to extremes. Can we please be shot of him as soon as possible?