And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week Gigs & Festivals

CMU Beef Of The Week #307: Pop v Brexit (Round 2)

By | Published on Friday 27 May 2016


I’m not saying it’s a farce*, but pro-Brexit music event Bpoplive does seem to have a bit of a problem holding onto its acts.

As previously reported, the Leave.EU-backed event was originally due to take place at Birmingham’s Genting Arena on 8 May. But in April, tickets for the show were withdrawn from sale after several of the acts on the bill pulled out – none having been properly briefed on the show’s links to the political group.

Drum n bass act Sigma were the first to withdraw, while reps for Ella Eyre said that she had never confirmed, despite being listed as a performer. Pixie Lott, though rumoured, was never on board either, while DJ Luck & MC Neat and Phats & Small thought better of it, and Electric Swing Circus dropped out, saying that they were “generally pro EU”.

Note that I said tickets were withdrawn from sale after those drop-outs, not that the event was cancelled. Because it was not cancelled. Sure, 8 May has been and gone, you’ve probably noticed that. But that’s a minor issue. Just because all the acts dropped out doesn’t mean this show can’t go ahead. I mean, there are loads of acts in the world. Some of them must be willing to share a stage with Nigel Farage. Surely.

Well, on Wednesday a whole new line-up was announced, with a new date set for 19 Jun, four days before the big vote on whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union.

5ive, East 17, Alesha Dixon, Sister Sledge and Rose Royce’s Gwen Dickey were now all on board. Great stuff. I mean, it’s not quite the young-person-enthusing line-up that was originally promised, but it’s a line-up. And sometimes that’s all that matters. And if that lot isn’t enough to keep you excited, “leading Leave campaigners” Nigel Farage, Liam Fox and Kate Hoey are all signed up to speak at the show too.

And that would have been all fine. I mean, that is definitely a bill that will shift 15,000 tickets, right? Or is it? Well, we’ll never know, because almost straight away Alesha Dixon and 5ive pulled out. Only two members of 5ive were actually planning to perform – Ritchie Neville and Scott Robinson – so there should have been less trouble trying to get them to stick it out. But alas, no.

“When Rich and Scott agreed to play the event they understood that it was a pop concert funded by one of the Brexit organisations and not a political rally”, said 5ive’s management in a statement. “As it has come to light that this is more a political rally with entertainment included they have both decided to cancel their involvement. They would like to make it clear that as a band 5ive have no political allegiances or opinions for either side. Their allegiance is first and foremost to their fans”.

Meanwhile, Dixon’s manager told BBC Newsbeat: “When Alesha was approached to perform at this event it was on the understanding that she would be there purely as an entertainer. It has now come to light that this is more of a political rally with entertainment included. We have decided to withdraw Alesha from the event. We wish to apologise to any fans who may have purchased tickets. I would like to make it clear that Alesha has no political allegiances either way on this issue”.

But wait a minute spokespeople, Leave.EU’s PR guy Andy Wigmore is adamant that the popstars’ concerns are unfounded, insisting that this event is “NOT a political rally”.

Yes, who would ever think that an event taking place right before a big political vote and only featuring speakers from one side of the debate was a political rally? Idiots. I mean, just because the event’s own blurb describes it as “the biggest campaign rally in modern British political history”, doesn’t means it’s a political rally.

“I think they have missed a great opportunity to be part of a great festival”, Wigmore continued, in an email to Newsbeat. “Any way of communicating to young people the importance of voting is welcome. Even if they were voting In and performed wearing In t-shirts, we would have still been happy for them to be part of it. Getting the young to vote on their future is hugely important and all we are supporting is that effort by the Bpoplive events team”.

Yes, it is always good to communicate to young people the importance of voting, though doing so at an event several weeks after the cut-off point when they can register to vote is perhaps not massively helpful. Plus with this new line-up, by this point down to East 17, Sister Sledge and Rose Royce’s Gwen Dickey, it’s not clear exactly who Wigmore is classing as ‘young people’.

The PR man also stressed that the concert is endorsed by, but not organised by, Leave.EU. Though the group’s involvement has been communicated somewhat confusingly throughout the time whoever is actually behind this event has been trying to get it off the ground. Much as the nature of the event has not been properly communicated to the artists booked to perform.

When they then pulled out later the same day, Sister Sledge issued a statement saying: “Sister Sledge were not aware that the upcoming Bpoplive concert was a political rally. Because of the politically sensitive nature of the event, the group have decided to withdraw from participating. We respectfully remain supportive of the people of Great Britain at this time”.

East 17’s agent meanwhile offered no statement, but confirmed to Digital Spy that the band would not be performing. We don’t know their political views, but numerous people have pointed out that their big hit was ‘Stay Another Day’.

All those young aspiring voters still holding out for Gwen Dickey might also be disappointed, a spokesperson for her telling Newsbeat that the singer “didn’t know what [Brexit] was, and is still considering it, but doesn’t think she will be doing it”.

So it’s not looking good. But Leave.EU director Arron Banks saw the funny side. “All our acts have been annihilated in 24 hours”, he told The Times. “I’m laughing at the absurdity of it all. Everyone thought they’d forgotten 5ive. Who the fuck are they?”

Who indeed. Maybe booking them (or at least two of them) to headline an arena show was actually a big joke, a distraction to lower everyone’s expectations before the real line-up is announced. Because yes, there will be a third line-up, and it will be marvellous. In fact, apparently it was booked before the last of the second lot had bowed out. What’s that? Who are they? Oh, we couldn’t possibly tell you because it would blow your mind.

“Wait [until] you see the new line-up, we have doubled down!” tweeted Banks – head of an organisation, let’s remember, that isn’t in any way involved in organising this event – on Wednesday afternoon.

Wigmore tweeted shortly afterwards: “Third time lucky – new line-up at least are British patriots and want to leave the EU… phew”.

Still no word on who these acts are, but Leave.EU has been getting all excited about a tweet from Bryan Adams. Sure, he’s not British, and he was inaccurately claiming that our MEPs aren’t elected, but a quote is a quote. They’ve already mocked up a poster suggesting that he is somehow officially endorsing their campaign. Get him on board for the show. The kids will love it. I mean, the line-up’s apparently chock full of British patriots already, so no one will mind a Canadian getting in on the fun.

Because I think a line-up of Bryan Adams, Mike Read and Mandy Boylett should get the kids down to Birmingham, no problem.

*I am saying that

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | |