Every news bulletin this morning reported the fact that Justin Bieber arrived on stage at the O2 last night almost two hours after the advertised start time. Apparently he offered no apology, and by all accounts then proceeded to give his fans (those that remained) an excellent show. For those who are genuinely devoted to Mr Bieber (and there are many millions) he will be forgiven his tardiness. For many of his young fans, the experience was a disappointing one, since they had to leave early, or miss the entire concert as they would otherwise have missed the last trains home.
Bands arriving late on stage is something rock fans became used to many years ago. Guns 'N" Roses made a whole career of it, often not coming on stage until after the show was due to end. But their fans are made of sterner stuff, and tend not to have to be up in the morning to get to school. Madonna was booed last year in Philadelphia for appearing two and a half hours late, and later issued a fulsome apology.
Back to Mr Bieber. At the time of writing, the only apology that has appeared in the media is from the venue. There's no mention of the incident on his Twitter feed. I find that surprising. One of the basic rules of reputation management is to apologise as quickly as possible after doing something that upsets many people, especially erstwhile fans.
UPDATE: Mr Bieber has now tweeted an apology of sorts. He says that he was due to go on stage at 9.30 (not 8.30 as the audience believed) and he hit the stage at 10.10 (not 10.24 according to people who were there). He claims he was therefore 40 minutes late, not two hours. He added "My relationship with the media is not always easy but I'm trying. I'm all
about the music and the performance and I respect my fans. I never have any intent to upset or let anyone down. and I'm not okay
with things being exaggerated. once again sorry for anyone upset." So that's a little better. He still manages to dispute the facts and take a swipe at "the media". Presumably that's the same media that made him famous. It's also a late apology, suggesting a little external influence.
I doubt that his late arrival will do very much damage to his career. Anyone who has 34 million Twitter followers, and sells out concerts in a matter of seconds can afford to lose a few fans. However, respect for your audience is important. Many of Mr Bieber's fans last night were teenagers (and younger). Many had travelled long distances, and were escorted by parents who had paid a hundred pounds or more for each ticket. Some of the younger fans fell asleep, and others had to go home before the concert began, or after just a couple of songs. In short, some of the crowd left disappointed, and may well become non-Beliebers in future. That's no way to treat an audience, and no way to maintain a reputation, however good you are.
I'm betting he'll be on stage a lot earlier over the next three nights.
Picture credit : Wikipedia Creative Commons