Brit Award-winning group Mumford & Sons have issued a statement apologising to the many unlucky fans that were unable to get tickets for their intimate tour of the Highlands & Islands next month, promising they will “come back as soon as we can”.
Hundreds of Shetlanders disrupted their sleep to queue for hours in bitterly cold winter gales in the early hours of Saturday in the hope of getting their hands on tickets to see the folk-rock outfit. Only 370 tickets were available for the gig at Whiteness and Weisdale Hall on 9th March, meaning those who left it until after 6.30am to begin queuing were left disappointed. The queue stretched all the way from High Level Music at the Market Cross to The Shetland Times bookshop.
The first punter in line, Catherine Henry from Aith, arrived at High Level shortly after 5pm on Friday evening. She endured a 16-hour wait to get her hands on a pair of prized tickets when the shop opened at 9am the next day. Tents, blankets, survival suits, sleeping bags, soup (and perhaps even the odd hip flask) were brought along by dedicated fans to help them make it through the chilly February night.
The scarcity of the tickets led to criticism of the band for what some fans viewed as its “selfish” decision to play shows in a more intimate setting. Similar grumbles to those voiced in Shetland came from punters elsewhere in Scotland. That prompted frontman Marcus Mumford to post a message on its website saying sorry to those who could not get tickets for the dates.
Mumford & Sons are also playing Mull, Fort William, Forres, Ullapool, Stornoway, Inverness and Orkney early next month Mumford explained that the idea behind the eight-date tour was to return to the group’s Celtic roots and “road test” new song ideas.
“[We] wanted to take the chance to play some beautiful smaller towns that often get ignored on the more traditional touring routes,” he wrote. “We figured that playing smaller shows would take us back to the beginning of our touring lives again, but we didn’t really figure that there would be so much demand … we’re really sorry for anyone who wanted tickets but couldn’t get them.
“We think we’ve reached a bit of a tricky stage where we’re torn because we want to keep playing intimate shows, but we also obviously would like people who want to see us to be able to. So for now, all we can say is thank you to the people who are planning to come along, and sorry to those who didn’t get tickets but suffice to say we’ll come back as soon as we can.”
Davie Gardner, who is promoting the gig in conjunction with Highlands-based promoter Beyond, was also the target of flak from some quarters. He had explained in advance that the band had wanted a smaller venue and, had he insisted on the much larger Clickimin for a venue, the gig would not have happened at all.
He admitted being caught off guard by the level of demand. Mr Gardner said large overnight queues to that extent had probably only been seen when Pulp played Clickimin at the height of their Britpop fame in the mid-1990s and, to a lesser degree, for Franz Ferdinand’s successful 2007 date at Whiteness and Weisdale Hall.
“I know how it is when you’re looking forward to something and it’s snatched away,” he said, adding he hoped a few more people would still get their hands on tickets through natural wastage.
“I really feel sorry for them. That’s why I made a personal point of being at the bottom of the steps to say a personal sorry to folk who didn’t manage to get tickets, and the first few I spoke to were all quite philosophical about it – some more disappointed than others.
“An awful lot more folk lost out than we thought. We knew it would sell out but there was far more interest than we thought it would be. Right across Scotland [the band’s management] didn’t really realise the clamour would be at the level that it was.”
Mumford & Sons’ debut release Sigh No More won the Brit Award for album of the year earlier this month. It has sold more than one million copies, spawned two top 40 singles in Little Lion Man and The Cave and earned two Grammy nominations.