Well, it's been a big week for concert news--some good news, some not-so-good. We're feeling uncharacteristically cheery and positive and Pollyanna-ish today, so we'll start with the good stuff.
Well, this is good news for female Usher devotees, that is. But Usher fans cursed with a male chromosome are still sadly out of luck this week. See, the "Love In This Club" crooner just announced that he's planning a "One Night Stand" LADIES-ONLY tour at 15 "intimate" U.S. venues. "I feel like I've had such a connection with my audience," Usher told the Associated Press. "This album [Here I Stand], I felt like, was definitely the type of one that was more intimate. So what better way to get up-close and personal than to make it all women?" The R&B loverman then added, "The ladies like to see [my] masculine build. They question if I still got it." So at his One Night Stand Tour, we assume attending ladies will get their answer, as Usher will surely shed one of his trademark breakaway button-downs at some point midshow.
No word on whether Usher's wife, Tameka Foster
, is very thrilled about her husband's female-friendly marketing gimmick here...but given the still-circulating rumors about their troubled marriage, we have a feeling Tameka will make sure
she's one of the ladies at each and every one of Usher's ladies-only extravaganzas.
Another favorite with the ladies, fellow R&B lothario Ne-Yo, also received some delightful concert-related news this week, when R. Kelly was ordered by a Los Angeles judge to pay him $700,000. This was Ne-Yo's settlement from a lawsuit filed after he was cut from Kelly's "Double Up" tour last fall after only two dates (purportedly because Kelly was jealous and fearful of being upstaged). That's the bad news...but the good news is, Ne-Yo was, for all intents and purposes, basically paid a cool $350,000 per gig for his two-night stand. Not too shabby! It's the year of the gentleman, indeed.
Meanwhile, R&B lothario Akon
faced much less happy concert news this week. Akon, who allegedly tossed a young fan from the stage at a June 2007 New York gig (resulting in a concussion to another concertgoer), has just been ordered to stand trial. He'll be tried on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree harassment, and could get a maximum of one year and 15 days in prison if convicted. Guess the "Konvicted" star's attempted apology song "Sorry, Blame It On Me" wasn't enough to appease the judge--or that airborne kid who reportedly got hurled from the stage, or
the unsuspecting bystander who reportedly got whacked in the face with said airborne kid. Nice try, Akon...
Another artist facing some concert-related legal action this week is Amy Winehouse
--a woman who, after being married to jailbird Blake "Incarcerated" Fielder-Civil
all these months, has seen more than her fair share of the inside of both a courtroom and a prison cell. The rehab-resistant Brit diva pulled out of her Friday headlining gig at the Rock En Seine music festival in Paris only hours before she was expected to hit the stage (giving her usual vague exhaustion excuse, "illness"), and now organizers of the French fest are planning to sue. "Because of the conditions of this cancellation, the festival has taken the decision to start legal proceedings," declares a message on the Rock En Seine website. "We were told by Amy Winehouse's agent at 8pm that she would not be there, and we were forced to cancel the performance. We still have not been given any explanation of the exact reasons for her absence." Given how many concert appearances on which Amy has pulled the proverbial in her career, we suggest the Rock En Seine powers-that-be team with the people at Britain's V Festival, Holland's North Sea Jazz Festival, Scotland's T In The Park Festival, Liverpool's Summer Pops Festival, London's Shepherds Bush Empire, et al (not to mention the promoters of her entirely cancelled 2007 European tour) for a class-action lawsuit.
Tom Waits is also taking legal matters into his own (rough, callused, weathered) hands this week, joining TicketMaster's fight against ticket-scalping. But this week's most sobering legal live music-related news stems from the nightclub fire that claimed the lives of 100 rock fans at a Rhode Island Great White concert in 2003. This past Tuesday, the '80s hair-metal band (who also lost their guitarist, Ty Longley, in the horrific blaze) agreed to pay $1 million to the fire's survivors and the victims' relatives, according to court papers. Although the band members were never charged in this case, their tour manager Daniel Biechele and the owners of West Warwick Station club, Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, respectively pleaded guilty and no-contest in 2006 to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter. (Daniel was paroled in March after serving less than two years of his four-year sentence; the Derderian brothers were given community service and probation.)
Not everyone thinks Great White million-dollar payout is so great, however. Chris Fontaine
, whose son Mark
was killed in the fire and whose daughter Melanie
was gravely injured, told reporters that she thought the band "was getting off easy" and would have had to pony up a much bigger sum if the case had gone to trial. The state of Rhode Island and the town of West Warwick also each agreed last month to settle for $10 million...but there's probably no
price that can be placed on the kind of suffering this fire caused. "I just feel that we're never going to get the answers we need that would put some of this to rest for us," Fontaine griped--most likely echoing the sentiments of the 300 victims suing over the tragedy.
All right, and on that downer note, thus concludes another week in music. Come back next week for more headspinning headlines--including, hopefully, a whole lot about this weekend's VMAs and, specifically, Britney Spears
's much-ballyhooed VMA comeback. And until then, goodnight and good music.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) It's Britney, B&*$! Again! - Spears returns to the MTV Video Music Awards stage this weekend.
2) Once Burned, Twice Shy - Great White agree to pay fire victims $1 million.
3) Usher Hosts Ladies' Night - The R&B heartthrob will embark on a females-only tour. Sorry, fellas!
4) Sorry, Judge Blames It On Akon - Akon will indeed stand trial for that unfortunate fan-tossing incident.
5) Slipknot Demand A Recount - Slipknot chart their first number-one album after SoundScan retallies its sales numbers. (The presumed chart-topper, the Game, is bumped to number two.)
6) R. Kelly Back In The Courtroom - But this time, it's only Ne-Yo accusing him of dirty deeds.
7) She'll Never Have Paris - This might not even be "news" anymore, but Amy Winehouse is being sued for cancelling yet another show, this time in France.
8) Worth The Waits - Singer-songwriter Tom Waits leads the crusade against ticket-scalpers.
9) Lily Allen Does Not Make Elton John Smile - The two spar onstage at the GQ Men Of The Year Awards.
10) Cliff Richard's Cliffhanger - In his memoir, the English pop icon writes about his relationship with a former priest.
- Arts & Entertainment