‘I can’t in good conscience go’: Fans urge Arcade Fire to cancel tour over sexual misconduct allegations

Entertainment

Arcade Fire are facing growing calls from fans to cancel shows or refund tickets for their upcoming UK tour dates following allegations of sexual misconduct against frontman Win Butler.

The claims by three women and one gender-fluid person were published in an investigation by US music site Pitchfork at the weekend. The four were aged between 18 and 23 at the time of the alleged inappropriate behaviour between 2016 and 2020 – while Butler was in his late 30s, the article reported.

Butler, who has been married to his Arcade Fire bandmate Régine Chassagne since 2003, has said the interactions were consensual and vehemently denied misconduct, but said he was “very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behaviour”.

Win Butler, left, and Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire perform at the Krewe du Kanaval Mardi Gras Ball at Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
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Win Butler, left, and Regine Chassagne on stage in 2020. Pic: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Chassagne has supported her husband, saying in a statement: “I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did. He has lost his way and he has found his way back.”

Following the allegations, some fans of the indie rock band say they are no longer comfortable attending Arcade Fire shows or listening to their music. Some are trying to resell tickets or have asked for refunds from sales sites, and some say it is the band’s responsibility to step in and make this happen.

Arcade Fire have played shows in Dublin this week and are due to start a handful of UK dates tonight, ahead of gigs across Europe, the US and Canada.

After playing in Dublin, support act Feist announced her departure from the tour on Thursday, saying in a lengthy statement explaining her decision that “the best way to take care of my band and crew and my family is to distance myself from this tour, not this conversation”.

More on Birmingham

Fan Daisy Collier, a 30-year-old from Gloucestershire, says Arcade Fire have been her favourite band since she was 15, but her “heart sank” when she read about the allegations. She has tickets for tonight’s Birmingham show.

“Having been a fan of the band for that long, it’s sort of grief that accompanies the feeling of [reading this] about someone you’ve listened to and admired and, you know, really felt those lyrics for years,” she told Sky News.

“It changes the dynamic of my relationship with their music and with the band. Lots of people on social media have said, ‘you have to separate the person from the music’. But he’s still the one singing it. So for me to go to that concert, I can’t in good conscience stand there and enjoy myself.”

Mrs Collier paid for insurance for her tickets, which she says cost about £94 each in total, but was told her reasons for no longer being able to go to the gig did not meet the criteria for a payout.

She then contacted Ticketmaster, who told her they could only offer a refund in the event of a cancellation.

Arcade Fire's WE tour started in Dublin and includes shows in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and London in the UK
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Arcade Fire’s WE tour started in Dublin and includes shows in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and London in the UK

‘I don’t think they should continue the tour’

Whatever happens, Mrs Collier says she will not go to the show: “For me personally, it’s not something I want to engage in anymore.

“I don’t think they should continue the tour. I think it’s insulting to the [alleged] victims to continue to go on a massive European tour.

“As far as Ticketmaster goes, I understand you can’t expect a refund for every little thing. But there should be some sort of policy for unprecedented situations like this. It’s an understandable situation where you would not want to attend a concert that’s being held by someone accused of sexual misconduct.”

Mrs Collier is not the only fan, or former fan, who no longer wants to go to upcoming shows.

Another Birmingham ticketholder, who did not want to be named, also told Sky News he would not attend.

“I’ve been a fan of Arcade Fire ever since the release of [debut album] Funeral in 2004, to this day it’s still one of my favourite albums,” he said. “Their music has got me through some really tough times and I was looking forward to seeing them for what is now the fifth time.

“I saw the damning article from Pitchfork with the separate accounts from the women who have made accusations towards him… I can’t in good conscience go and see them and just dance and sing and put to one side these accusations.”

Fans contact Ticketmaster and attempt to resell tickets

In a tweet to Ticketmaster, one ticketholder urged them to “do the decent thing” and offer refunds.

“Cancel the tour and refund fans,” another wrote – later saying he had tried to sell his two tickets for the Birmingham show for half price but “can’t even give them away”.

Another Twitter user said “it no longer seems the right thing” to see the band in Manchester on Saturday.

“The arrogance of him continuing the tour says it all,” another said.

However, some fans have said the allegations do not change how they feel about the band.

“I won’t stop loving my band,” one said on Twitter, adding that Butler was “innocent until proven guilty”. Another who went to the band’s Dublin show posted: “A brilliant show, by a brilliant band. That’s all which is relevant.”

The allegations have also led to some radio stations in Canada, the band’s home country, to stop playing their music.

Win Butler, from left, Regine Chassagne and Tim Kingsbury of Arcade Fire perform at the Krewe du Kanaval Mardi Gras Ball at Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
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Pic: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Win Butler’s full statement

Butler released a lengthy statement to Pitchfork in response to the allegations. His representatives pointed Sky News to this when asked for comment.

“I love Régine with all of my heart,” Butler said. “We have been together for 20 years, she is my partner in music and in life, my soulmate and I am lucky and grateful to have her by my side. But at times, it has been difficult to balance being the father, husband, and bandmate that I want to be. Today I want to clear the air about my life, poor judgment, and mistakes I have made.

“I have had consensual relationships outside of my marriage.

“There is no easy way to say this, and the hardest thing I have ever done is having to share this with my son. The majority of these relationships were short lived, and my wife is aware – our marriage has, in the past, been more unconventional than some. I have connected with people in person, at shows, and through social media, and I have shared messages of which I am not proud. Most importantly, every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise.

“I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favours. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened.

“While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behaviour. Life is filled with tremendous pain and error, and I never want to be part of causing someone else’s pain.

“I have long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse. In my 30s, I started drinking as I dealt with the heaviest depression of my life after our family experienced a miscarriage. None of this is intended to excuse my behaviour, but I do want to give some context and share what was happening in my life around this time. I no longer recognised myself or the person I had become. Régine waited patiently watching me suffer and tried to help me as best as she could. I know it must have been so hard for her to watch the person she loved so lost.

“I have been working hard on myself – not out of fear or shame, but because I am a human being who wants to improve despite my flaws and damage. I’ve spent the last few years since COVID hit trying to save that part of my soul. I have put significant time and energy into therapy and healing, including attending AA. I am more aware now of how my public persona can distort relationships even if a situation feels friendly and positive to me. I am very grateful to Régine, my family, my dear friends, and my therapist, who have helped me back from the abyss that I felt certain at times would consume me. The bond I share with my bandmates and the incredibly deep connection I’ve made with an audience through sharing music has literally saved my life.

“As I look to the future, I am continuing to learn from my mistakes and working hard to become a better person, someone my son can be proud of. I say to you all my friends, family, to anyone I have hurt and to the people who love my music and are shocked and disappointed by this report: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain I caused – I’m sorry I wasn’t more aware and tuned in to the effect I have on people – I f***** up, and while not an excuse, I will continue to look forward and heal what can be healed, and learn from past experiences. I can do better and I will do better.”

Representatives for Arcade Fire did not respond to Sky News’ request for additional comment on the issue of some fans calling for refunds or for the shows to be cancelled.

Sky News has also contacted Ticketmaster for comment.

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