There were tears outside a gigantic Northern Irish music venue on Thursday as young would-be gig goers were told that a concert was cancelled just as they were set to enter.
Two gigs by four-strong all-girl pop act Little Mix at Belfast’s SSE Arena (formerly called the Odyssey) were called off at short notice after one of the group fell sick.
Fans spoke of their upset after learning that the gigs – one on Thursday afternoon and another on Thursday night – had to be called off.
Promotions firm Aiken said that both shows were sold out, and that roughly 8,000 people per show had been affected.
There was little more information available on how ill the singer Jesy was, with a post on the group’s Twitter page apologising for the cancellation and saying just that she was “unwell and unable to sing”.
Julie Beattie took daughter Lily, aged six, from Portadown to Belfast to see the gig.
The tickets (which cost £38 each) had been a Christmas present.
It was to be her first concert, and she declared Little Mix were her favourite band.
The youngster said: “I cried when I heard Little Mix weren’t coming on.”
Asked how she felt a couple of hours later, she said: “Really, really, really sad.”
Her best friend, whom she was going to meet there, was “devastated”. She added: “I’m hoping for Jesy to get better!”
Mother Julie, a 41-year-old chemist’s shop worker, said they had been queueing outside the SSE, where doors were due to open at 1pm.
At quarter-past, before having made it through the gates, a security guard told them the gig was off.
“A girl was standing beside us from Holland outside the Odyssey. She’d come all the way from Holland! [She and her sister] had a VIP pass to meet the girls. There were a lot of wee girls standing crying. It’s very short notice – it’s ridiculous.”
Rosy Walker, 56 and from Newtownabbey, said her daughter, grand-daughter and their friend were the very first in the queue, and had been there for about 90 minutes when the announcement came.
Though the shows may be rescheduled, she felt the affair had been handled “very badly”, adding: “People are out their travelling expenses and everything. They’ve been badly let down.”
It is the second major cancellation to disappoint young music fans in recent times.
Last October, One Direction called off a gig at the SSE at late notice after singer Liam Payne fell sick.
Aiken’s statement said: “We regret to announce that both Little Mix shows at the SSE Arena will not take place today due to Jesy being unwell and not able to perform.”
It advised fans to hold on to tickets while they tried to arrange a possible rescheduling.