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Thursday 22 February 2018

Top 7 biggest live music disasters in history from The Edge's fall to Robbie Williams' Croker gondola incident

U2 PopMart tour, showing stage set and speakers and the offending lemon to the right
U2 PopMart tour, showing stage set and speakers and the offending lemon to the right
Ed Power

Ed Power

How the mighty have fallen! The opening night of U2's Innocence and Experience tour in Vancouver was billed an opportunity for the creaking stadium rockers to repair some of the brand damage inflicted by their internet-infuriating iTunes giveaway. Instead, The Edge tumbled off the 'er edge of the band's 'ego ramp', overshadowing what was by all accounts an otherwise solid return.

Then it isn't the first time U2 have come unstuck in a live context. Their gimmick-happy PopMart tour was bedeviled by iffy hydraulics, with the group swearing to never again work with giant plastic fruit (see below).

 However, they aren't alone in discovering the road to rock nirvana can be cratered with mishaps and embarrassment. As The Edge readjusts his tea cosy hat and reaches for a fresh icepack, here is our countdown of seven noteworthy musical tumbles.


1: Madonna Slips at the Brits

Less a wardrobe malfunction, than a full-fledged sartorial meltdown, in hindsight Madonna's decision to appear at the Brits in a Batman-style cape was an invitation to disaster.

Disaster duly said 'yes please' as Madonna lost her footing and went down, down, down. It had been a rather dull Brits – when Paloma Faith breaking into tears is a high point you know you're better off switching over.

But the endless dreariness that went before was forgotten as Madonna did the one thing she has always seemed most terrified of: losing her dignity with the entire world watching (or, at least, that segment of the world tuned to ITV on a rainy Wednesday).


2: The Edge and the Lemon

dg u2 popmart.jpg
U2 PopMart tour, showing stage set and speakers and the offending lemon to the right
dg u2 popmart.jpg
U2 PopMart tour, showing stage set and speakers and the offending lemon to the right

The PopMart tour stage - with offending lemon advancing from the right

The in-house prat-faller at U2, The Edge has a track record of embroiling himself in embarrassing live situations.

On the 1997 –1998 PopMart tour, the plan was for him to enter via a giant hydraulic lemon. Alas, mechanical lemon technology was still in its infancy and, more than once, the gimmick misfired, leaving Edge stuck while roadies tried to wedge him free.

"It was a beautiful thing, traveling in that lemon," Bono said later. U2 were still in their 'ironic' phase, so it's hard to tell if he was joking.


3: Robbie Williams at Croke Park

Robbie Williams in concert in Croke Park 9/6/06. Picture By David Conachy .

Robbie Williams performing at Croke Park before (or maybe after) the gondola incident

Kicking off his 2006 World Tour at a crammed to capacity Croker, Robbie Williams should have been in his element.

However, he wasn't feeling it and judged the gig a disaster – as he told the crowd before the final curtain (he also vowed to come back and perform for free, which he did at a 2013 charity show).

Existential ennui aside, the concert was noteworthy for the sequence in which Williams became stuck in a 'gondola' high above the stage – not what you need when you're fighting the the first major panic attack of your career.


4: Josh Homme Goes Crazy

*WARNING: Explicit and offensive language in this video...

Here the problem was the Queens of the Stone Age singer tripping over his gatling-gun tongue.

Suffering a heavy flu, Homme lost his cool at a festival in Norway when a missile was hurled at him. He unleashed a fusillade of homophobic slurs which put the fear of God into anyone listening – but was also caught on camera and now lives on in perpetuity on YouTube.

Homme, whose extended family includes several gay people, was horrified to be thought of as prejudiced.

At the dawn of the viral video era, he was one of the first celebrities to learn that, with YouTube and camera phones, there really is no such thing as a throwaway remark any more.


5: Bowie Cops A Lolly

Could a lollipop in the iris explain Bowie's ongoing aversion to live performance? It seems a distinct possibility.

Performing in Norway (them again) in 2004, the Thin White Duke was temporarily blinded when an airborne piece of stick-based confectionary lodged in his eye.

On paper it was a minor mishap. However, Bowie was said to be deeply spooked and has not announced a tour since.


6: Nirvana's Bass In The Face

How do you set yourself apart from the corporate drones that constitute 99 per cent of rock music?

Alt.pop party-crashers Nirvana thought they had the answer at the 1992 MTV Music Video awards – or at least bassist Kris Novoselic did.

At the end of the performance he lobbed his instrument in the air and made to catch it. Unfortunately, it landed on his head and he staggered away, blood gushing.

Years later, Novoselic explained his self-destructive mood had been prompted by a backstage row with Guns 'n Roses.


7: Taylor Swift Takes A Tumble (But Luckily Nobody Is Watching)

Taylor Swift songs have found their way on to many forty-something playlists.

Taylor Swift not falling

Pop's Little Miss Perfect rarely puts a foot wrong – even parlaying an incident-packed personal life into chart gold.

However, she displayed a surprising fallible side at a private corporate gig in Minnesota last year - rocking out to I Know You Were Trouble she lost her footing and slammed earthwards. This was truly a shock – who knew Taylor Swift did corporate gigs?

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