Yusuf jeered by fans at comeback concert

 

AS A high-profile convert to Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens is used to controversy, but even he hadn’t reckoned with elements of an Irish audience in a foul mood. Incensed fans booed, jeered, slow handclapped and walked out of Yusuf Islam’s comeback concert at the O2 in Dublin on Sunday.

A 40-minute interlude promoting Moonshadow, a new West End musical based on his songs, provoked their ire. Though he flagged it in interviews ahead of the concert, many just wanted to hear old Cat Stevens material.

Radio presenter Gerry Ryan, who was there, said he had never seen such a “level of hate and bile and viciousness” from an Irish audience. He heard one fan shout at the singer: “play Peace Train, you f***ing b******”.

He said he met Yusuf after the show and the singer was “utterly shocked” and his family, who were in the audience, were traumatised by what had happened. “I really felt so incredibly ashamed,” Ryan added.

One caller to Ryan’s 2FM show blamed the recession for the vitriol directed at the singer.

“The problem is that there is such a level of aggression at the moment in the country and this was just a catalyst,” she said. Another caller blamed the booing on “brain-dead yobbos”.

Fans on the singer’s website who attended the concert, praised his performance and apologised for what happened.

Yusuf was apologetic to some of the fans. “I’m sorry if we overdid it,” he said at one stage and told them he had just tried to give them “a show and a half”.

He promised the crowd a surprise during his second encore and Ronan Keating joined Yusuf to perform Father and Sonto widespread applause.