Take ambassador off the list of careers Britney Spears might want to pursue if she ever tires of singing.
The pop star, who seems to have no problem maintaining good relations with fans at home, suffered another international incident this past week by twice angering her Mexican fans, who chanted, “Fraud!” when she cut short the final show of her world tour.
It’s customary for American artists playing to international audiences – who don’t get to see certain performers as often – to go out of their way to charm fans, either by adopting local protocol, attempting the language or striving for punctuality. Spears already had a brush with how different cultures have modified expectations when she was booed in England in March for arriving late and then not lingering and signing autographs outside the London premiere of “Crossroads.”
There, she was only late and unavailable, not rude. But upon her arrival in Toluca, about 40 miles from Mexico City, on July 23, Spears gave a waiting crowd the one-finger salute. Understandably, Mexican fans and press took it as a snub, prompting an apology from the singer, who said the obscene gesture was intended for paparazzi, not fans. “I am human,” she later said at a press conference. “And like everyone else, sometimes I get mad too.”
Then perhaps she can understand why her fans got mad too. Four songs into her concert at Mexico City’s Foro del Sol on Sunday, Spears added insult to the previous injury by abruptly cutting the show short due to rain, outraging the crowd of 52,000. Saying, “I’m sorry, Mexico. I love you. Bye,” Spears left the stage during the set’s fifth song, “Stronger.”
Fans booed, hurled chairs and other items, and chanted, “Fraud!” according to reports in local newspapers Milenio and El Universal. Some fans refused to leave the stadium, despite PA announcements that the show was over.
Afterward, Spears, her record label and concert organizers Ocesa Presenta blamed thunder and lightning for the short set. “I’m sorry I couldn’t finish the show for my fans,” Spears said in a statement Tuesday (July 30). “The Mexican fans are one of the best audiences to play for. We decided that we had no choice but to cancel the show after the storm and lightning showed no signs of clearing up.”
Initial reports of the incident didn’t indicate the cause of Spears’ abbreviated set or mention the rainy weather conditions, which are considered typical for the region. Concert organizers said fans will begin receiving refunds later this week for the tickets, which had cost between $14 and $190.
Ocesa Presenta director Guillermo Parra told El Universal that although concerts in Mexico City normally anticipate rain, and concerts from artists such as Bon Jovi and ‘NSYNC have continued in the rain, Sunday night’s incident involved special circumstances. “There was no trick nor deceit,” Parra told the paper, “but climatic conditions cannot be controlled.”
“A hazardous lightning storm made it essential for Spears to depart the stage,” Jive Records said in a statement. “Spears began the show during a break between two rainstorms, but the degree of risk to the audience and stage crew associated with the second storm, an electrical storm, made it impossible for the show to continue.”