Irish promoter Denis Desmond, widely regarded as the most powerful figure in the UK's festival industry, personally intervened to ensure that fans received a full Guns N' Roses show after frontman Axl Rose had tried to end a gig early after being repeatedly pelted by plastic cups.
Echoing scenes that saw the band's recent Reading and Leeds headline performances disintegrate into farce, they arrived late 45 minutes late at The O2 in Dublin on Wednesday night, to the fury of fans.
22 minutes into the set, during the intro to 'Welcome To The Jungle', Rose stopped the show after being hit several times by 'missiles' thrown from the crowd, announcing: "Here's the deal – one more bottle and we go home. It's up to you. We would like to stay. We want to stay. We want to have some fun. If you don't want to have fun, all you've got to do is let us know. We've got no problem – we'll go on our way."
Shortly afterwards, as guitarist Richard Fortus was about to launch into his James Bond theme solo, a cup containing 'unknown liquid' landed on-stage and Rose made good on his word, pulling the band offstage to a roar of boos and whistles.
The crowd were then blessed with a very rare personal appearance from the concert's enigmatic promoter Denis Desmond (who has a controlling influence over the likes of T in the Park, Oxegen, V Festival, Latitude, Isle Of Wight and the Slane Castle concerts and reportedly orchestrated GNR's billing at Reading and Leeds). He told the rowdy audience: “We’re trying hard to get Axl to come back on-stage. I’m trying hard to get Axl to come back on stage. I’d ask you please to refrain from throwing items at him. I promise a great show, but you have to calm. I’m sorry about that.”
What he didn't disclose then was that his organisation was at that moment effectively holding Rose hostage backstage, prevented from leaving the venue until he had completed his contractual obligation to deliver a full set.
According to the official statement from Desmond's company MCD, released yesterday: “The artist was prevented from leaving the venue by the promoter and following backstage discussions, Guns N’ Roses went back on stage at 23.20 and performed their full set until 00.53.”
After a short interval, the lights came on and thousands of fans left the arena. The band appeared back on stage at 11.20pm to complete their set. Rose said to the crowd: “Let’s try this again.”
The band played until 12.52am, by which stage many more fans had left. The statement issued by MCD made no mention of refunds for those fans who left the concert early in the mistaken belief that it was over.
And so the circus rolls on in what is fast becoming the band's most disastrous tour in its colourful history.