W.A.S.P.'s sold-out November 2 concert in Lyon, France. was cancelled early in the afternoon on the day of the show even though the band had already arrived at the venue. Radio Metal hooked up with Stephane of My Reference Events, the organization in charge of the concert, to discuss the reasons for the cancelation that reportedly left some of the band's fans angry and bewildered.
Radio Metal: So what's the reason behind the cancellation of the W.A.S.P. show in Lyon?
Stephane: You have to know that at first, there wasn't supposed to be any support band. Then, a few weeks ago, we were told that SHADOWSIDE would support for W.A.S.P. We immediately informed the management that this opening band could not play at the Ninkasi Kao. W.A.S.P. use their own console and they won't lend it to the support bands; it would have been complicated to add another mixing table in that venue. So we agreed that the opening act could not play at the Lyon show. When we arrived in the morning, we realized that a second opening act, the Italian band RAINTIME, had been added to the bill. So there wasn't one support band anymore — there were two of them. We explained to W.A.S.P.'s manager that it would be extremely complicated to let them play. Everything was ready for the main act, W.A.S.P., the entire security system and all the crash barriers were in place… But the tour manager finally said: "If the support bands cannot play, we won't play either." Unfortunately, we just couldn't push back the walls and make the venue bigger. It's not a big venue, but it's seen big names of the rock and metal scene. We still tried to discuss and find a compromise. We offered to try and let one of the opening bands to play with the return table on the side of the stage, but it wasn't good enough for him, because he absolutely wanted to use a front table. That would have taken a big space in the pit, and the show was already sold out: we couldn't tell people who'd bought their tickets that they couldn't come to the show because of a bunch of support bands that weren't even on the bill!
Radio Metal: What about [W.A.S.P. mainman] Blackie Lawless?
Stephane: I talked to the driver of the tour bus, who's been doing the entire tour. He explained that the decision came more from the tour manager than from Blackie. Blackie is a very professional guy, he's ready to play in every possible venue. In the past, he's actually played in all sorts of venues. Blackie is really here for the audience. That's where you start wondering, and you think that the tour manager probably gave them a terrible opinion of the venue and told them it wasn't worth stopping there. When that happens, there's nothing we can do. The only thing that could have helped would have been for Blackie to leave the bus and see the venue for himself. But he didn't, probably because he completely trusts his manager, who's been doing this job for a long time.
Radio Metal: So you basically had to pick up the pieces?
Stephane: There were around 550 tickets booked in a venue that can hold 600 people. Because of the security systems we'd prepared, we had to withdraw 50 places. But leaving 550 people high and dry didn't seem to bother the tour manager, while all it would have taken to work out would have been a little good will. We've already had several fantastic shows at the Ninkasi Kao, so there was no reason. We had to apologize to several spectators who'd come all the way from Normandy. Others came from Alsace. There was no show in Paris, so the fans had to come from farther away, and they only got the news once they were on the premises. I'd rather they had cancelled the show a week ago for technical problems, because then we could have announced it earlier, and people wouldn't have had to book hotel rooms and train tickets.
Radio Metal: Some people on the Web are talking about boycotting the band's upcoming shows…
Stephane: I don't think the fans should hold a grudge against Blackie. Once again, Blackie completely trusts his manager, who's paid to take care of everything and ensure that everything's perfect when he arrives. I saw the band at the Sonisphere last summer, and it rocked. They really do the show, it was really amazing. It's all we love about metal. If people decide to boycott the other shows, their loss. It's taken 14 years for the band to be back in province, so if people want to wait another 10 years, they can do that. Personally, I know that, if I were living in the south of France, I wouldn't hesitate one second to go and see W.A.S.P. Cancellations happen. We've all lived that at least once in our lives. A boycott would be useless. Those who really want to see W.A.S.P. on stage will go.
The entire audio interview (in French) is available at this location.