When entertainers charge $145 for a ticket to watch them perform, they have to accept the bitter with the sweet, for example, unfavorable reviews when they fall short of expectations.
Veteran guitarist Keith Richards of the legendary Rolling Stones is demanding an apology from Swedish newspapers for some scathing reviews of the group's performance in the country earlier this month. Tabloids Expressen and Aftonbladet panned the Aug. 3 concert at Ullevi Stadium in Goteborg. Expressen suggested Richards was "superdrunk" on stage.
Richards says he never has complained about a review before but that he had to "stand up this time, for our fans all over Sweden." Then he demanded an apology.
Richards contends that the 56,000 people in the stadium did not see the same concert as the negative reviewers and, "How dare you cheapen the experience for them - and for the hundreds of thousands of other people across Sweden who weren't at Ullevi and have only your 'review' to go on. Write the truth. It was a good show."
Aftonbladet music writer Markus Larsson gave the concert a score of two on a five-point scale and said Richards appeared "a bit confused."
"I am not going to apologize for my subjective opinion," Larsson said. "It is Keith who should apologize. After all, it costs around $145 to see a rock star who can hardly handle the (guitar) riff to 'Brown Sugar' anymore."
When headliners charge that kind of money and don't give what established reviewers consider their best, they deserve brickbats. When concert tickets cost a modest $5 or $10, audiences might be more willing to accept a lesser effort. But as prices soar, the public tends to demand excellence. Little wonder overpaid athletes who flop are scrutinized and chastised by ticket-buyers.
Sonny and Cher once were booked for a Kansas University homecoming concert. They came in and went through the motions of one of their regular television shows and left with a fee of $45,000. Local people were incensed and had a right to be because $45,000 was a lot of money 30 years ago - still is for many.
It is impossible to sympathize with someone like aging Keith Richards, noted for his various types of substance abuse. Considering the $145 price tag for the Swedish concert, he would do well to just count his money and move on to the next gig.