Sad But True

Last Updated: Oct 29, 2011, 19:50 PM IST

<br/>So another concert has been cancelled. This time, after the fans arrived. And the ostensible reason given to some 25,000 people, who waited for hours on a dusty field and had waited for three decades for Metallica – that greatest of heavy metal bands – to come and play in India was that the barricades were broken.<br/><br/>Why is it that successful gigs headlined by big names rarely come to fruition in the NCR? <br/><br/>It’s very easy to blame it on the rambunctious crowds of Delhi and its adjoining cities. They are the most convenient whipping boys to hand for everything that is wrong here. But the truth of the matter also lies a little deeper – in how these things are managed or mismanaged, at least in this case. <br/><br/>Metallica was not happy with the sound quality and the “backstage arrangements”. After three months of setting up a stage and equipment? The organisers are squarely to blame and for once, I am glad that they are being held accountable. <br/><br/>The lame excuse that they gave to the audience was that the “barricades broke”. But they had already started removing equipment from the stage before that happened. Why were tickets oversold? The ground had room for not more 15000 people – yet there were 29000 confirmations on Facebook alone. How many more tickets were sold? And why were they sold when there was no room to accommodate this kind of crowd?<br/><br/>The usual tendency is to blame it all on the crowd. I agree but only in part. I am not absolving them of blame. But it must be remembered that the chaos ensued after the announcements were made and not before. Part of the crowd did vandalise the stage after it was deserted. But it is equally true that the largest part of the audience left peaceably – not happily – but peaceably. There is no excuse for vandalism but will you only blame the audience for venting their frustration at not even being given a valid explanation for postponing and then cancelling a concert that has been eagerly awaited for months? <br/><br/>Fans had planned for this day months ahead – some had booked their tickets three months ago. People had poured in from all over the country yesterday for this show. I personally know of people who came in from Allahabad, Guwahati, Mumbai – oh across the country - taking trains, flying in, staying with friends and family, putting aside a day of precious leave… all to see Metallica live. <br/><br/>Is this really the message that we want to give out to the world? That a world-class concert cannot be staged in Delhi or any of its satellite cities? That the very city that arguably is home to some of the best artistes in the country is too incompetent to stage a large concert?<br/><br/>If such shows can be held in Bangalore then why not in Delhi? Why didn’t the organisers check and recheck the equipment? Why did they oversell the show by so much? They certainly had several months in which to check all of this. <br/><br/>All I can say is that both the audiences and the organisers need to think long and hard about this – about what could have been done and what should be done the next time – if there is a next time.<br/><br/><b><i>(Sharat Chandra Srivastava is a violinist and one of the founding members of Indian fusion band Mrigya)</i></b>