Less Than Merry Christmas For Holiday Radio Concerts

The Verve, Jamiroquai and Bjork drop out of radio station shows.

Modern-rock radio stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago were forced to play scrooge to fans of The Verve, Jamiroquai and Bjork when those artists dropped out of multi-artist holiday concerts at the last minute.

The problems began last week when Icelandic ingenue Bjork pulled out of holiday concerts promoted by San Francisco's Live 105 (KITS) and Chicago's Q101 (WKQX) due to what Bjork's representatives said was a kidney ailment. "We're looking for an artist of her caliber to fill the space," said Steve Levey, promotions manager for WKQX. "If we can't fill the space, then we'll just extend the sets of the other artists."

Bjork's cancellation was the only mishap for Q101's Dec. 11 "Twisted Christmas 4" concert, which is expected to feature appearances by Chumbawamba, the Cure, 311 and Sugar Ray.

At Live 105, there was more serious trouble. Soon after learning that Bjork had dropped out of their Dec. 7 "Green X-Mas" concert for the third year in a row, Live 105 staff were informed that the San Francisco Police Department was set to prevent the event from taking place at the Kezar Pavilion, an rarely used old roller derby arena near the city's infamous Haight-Ashbury district where the Clash performed in the late '70s. The venue, which hosted two Smashing Pumpkins concerts last year, doesn't have an entertainment license.

According to a report in the Dec. 5 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, Bill Graham Presents, the show's promoter, appealed the decision to the Police Commission on Dec. 3, but the committee sided with the boys in blue. The report went on to state that San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown stepped in on Dec. 4 and paved the way for the concert to happen.

"Yup, that's what happened," Bridget Connelly, 24, a program coordinator at Live 105 said Friday afternoon, the day before the show was to take place. "I'm not at liberty to discuss the particulars, but the show is going on at Kezar as planned."

Calls to the Mayor's Office, Bill Graham Presents and the S. F. P. D. had not been returned by the end of the day Friday.

The Verve also dropped out of the San Francisco show as well as this past Friday's "KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas" due to a death in singer Richard Ashcroft's family. At about the same time, retro-funksters Jamiroquai were forced to withdraw from the KROQ show after lead singer Jason Kay came down with a virus, according to his publicist.

Former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Weiland and punk-rockers Rancid were quickly enlisted to replace The Verve and Jamiroquai in Los Angeles.

"We're not going to have any replacement acts, Connelly said of Live 105's "Green X-Mas." "It'll be The Specials, [David] Bowie and Everclear, in that order."

Connelly added that refunds are available to fans who bought tickets to see The Verve and/or Bjork. [Mon., Dec. 8, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]