THE most famous phrase in showbusiness is, “The show must go on!”.
It originates in the 19th century in circuses, when either performers got injured doing death-defying stunts or animals got loose, and the ringmaster would bound out to keep the entertainment going and stop the audience from worrying or panicking and fleeing the Big Top.
In more recent times, the maxim was immortalised by Freddie Mercury in a Queen song about the late, great singer’s determination to carry on working even as he was dying from HIV/Aids.
“The show must go on,” Freddie sang, “inside my heart is breaking, my make-up may be flaking, but my smile, still, stays on . . . I’ll face it with a grin, I’m never giving in, on with the show . . . I’ll top the bill, I’ll overkill, I have to find the will to carry on, on with the show, the show must go on!”
I thought of those heroic and courageous words when I heard about pop superstar Adele’s decision to yank her Las Vegas residency just hours before it began, and way too late for many fans who had travelled from all over the world, at vast expense, to be there.
To take such drastic action so close to show time suggested that something irrevocably seismic must have suddenly happened to derail the three-month “Weekends with Adele” gigs for which many thousands of tickets had sold at up to $5,000 each.
And sure enough, Adele offered just such an explanation — it was the deadly virus which has devastated the world for the past two years.
She posted an emotional apology to her fans on Instagram, sobbing away — is she ever not sobbing? — as she said it was all due to damn Covid-19 and pandemic-related equipment supply chain issues.
“I’m so sorry,” she wailed, “but my show ain’t ready. I’m so upset and I’m really embarrassed. We’ve been destroyed by delivery delays and Covid. Half my crew and team are ill with Covid and still are, and it’s been impossible to finish the show.
“I can’t give you what I have right now, and I’m gutted. I’m sorry it’s last minute.”
As with Boris Johnson’s excuses for attending lockdown-breaking No 10 parties, and Meghan “Princess Pinocchio” Markle’s incendiary smears against the Royal Family to Oprah Winfrey, a rather conflicting version of events emerged almost as fast as it spilled out of Adele’s tear-stained lips.