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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Fans' fear at Danish concert
Jean Michel Jarre concert in Denmark
The concert was held at a Danish wind farm
A huge outdoor concert in Denmark was plunged into chaos after torrential rain turned a makeshift arena into a swamp.

Bad weather was compounded by poor organisation as 35,000 people tried to leave the Jean Michel Jarre concert on Saturday, fans have told BBC News Online.

The concert took place at a wind farm 20km north of Aalborg, and came two years after nine music fans were crushed to death at a Danish rock festival.

It was a very scary situation

Robin Hosgood
Organisers said they were prepared for 4mm of rain - not the 22mm they got - and that there were no serious injuries.

Some fans said it took six hours to get off the site, with stewards giving wrong directions, no lighting in car parks and people on foot afraid of being hit by buses and cars on dark lanes.

Jean Michel Jarre
Jarre has played at unusual venues around the world

UK fan Robin Hosgood said: "It was a very scary situation, and no preventions were made by the organisers to stop this kind of thing happening at all."

A bus blocked traffic when it slid into a ditch, and 5,000 ticket-holders were not allowed into the arena because gatecrashers had broken through a wire fence, he added.

"If they'd only made the proper precautions beforehand, none of the nightmare would have happened."

Organisers said they could not have foreseen the weather conditions, and that many fans had a good time.

To describe the situation as dangerous in any way is just plain rubbish

Morten Harper
"When you organise an outdoor concert, there will always be some things that you cannot control completely, and with Aero [the name of the event], we were left in the power of nature," organiser Peter Sand said.

Jes Rahbek, head of security, said the local hospital was no busier than the average Saturday night, and traffic arrangements were adequate.

"The collaboration between Aalborg Police - who had the overall responsibility for the traffic - and ourselves was perfect under the circumstances," he said.

"But, of course, people were frustrated and anxious about the traffic jams that made it very difficult for them to leave the area."

Advance warning

Some fans e-mailed BBC News Online to say that there was no threat to fan safety.

One fan, Morten Harper, said: "The concert could have been better organised, but to describe the situation as dangerous in any way is just plain rubbish."

Another, Hans Andersen, wrote: "I have been to other outdoor concerts and it has always been the same. It takes a couple of hours just to get out of there even with good roads.

"We were all told in advance that it would be like this so we should get there well in time for the concert and we should expect that it took time to get home."

BBC News Online users sent us accounts of their experiences at the concert. Here is a selection of them.

These problems were not Jean Michel Jarre's fault. He gave an amazing performance, just look at pictures of the concert; it was spectacular. It was a one of a kind multimedia event that took months to prepare and was only slightly harmed by bad luck and bad weather.
Andrew Barry

The concert was wicked! Merging all the elements that night; wind, mud, fire, rain. Boo-hoo to all you crybabies.
Rasmus, Denamrk

We drove 1000km to attend this concert and I must say, it was worth it. It was an impressive show. Jean-Michel did it again! Too bad for the weather. It made our trip a real adventure. Jean-Michel played great remixes of his most famous compositions. See you all at the next concert!
Marko van Vliet, The Netherlands

The situation that happened at Jean Michel Jarre's Aero concert was at first a natural small disaster. Production thought about the problem of rain falls (4mm) but they couldn't imagine the heavy stormy rainfalls during and before the concert.As the audience was already in the area of the concert, they couldn't do anything...just let the show happen and try to organise the exit. But sure, there was a lack of human ressources (police, army...) to help the 50,000 people to escape the flooded fields in the concert area.
Loic François, Belgium

The concert was very good, and the subsequent problems wer not Jarre's fault. The event was struck by bad luck and force majeure that the organisers could not have done anything about. They could have done something but it was not possible to avoid everything that happened.
Glenn, Norway

I was fortunate enough to attend the concert in Denmark and I'd like to say that although the rain did dampen the event somewhat, no serious injuries occurred before, during or after the concert. I personally would like to congratulate Jean Michel, Muskelsvindfonden and the entire production team for such a great event that will long live in the memories of everybody who went to the "swamp" at Gammel Vra Enge!
Kevin Smith, UK

Well I have to say that I have never experienced worse attitude from the people who attended the concert. They didn't listen to the police/MPs. I have to say that the primary cause of the chaos was the audience themselves. But anyway. The concert was great, the lights, fireworks and last but not least, the music was superb!!! He put on quite a show.
Svend Ole Nielsen, Denmark

Jarre has a habit of performing in the most difficult of venues - the Egyptian Pyramids, China in 1981, a whole city in Houston and now a windmill park in Denmark.

Having got wet and muddy on the night I still had a great time. The concert organisers did a great job under the circumstances considering that the concert site was 20km from anywhere. Music was great too!
David Bryant, England

I had real problems getting into and off the site, finally having to get a taxi back into Aalborg at 4am.

There were some real organisational issues (entry to the site etc.) but the show itself was wonderful and the rain did make it a memorable experience! Some of what happened mirrored the Docklands shows in London in 1988 (which I also went to). The crowd were good natured and the atmosphere was great.

The Danes come out of this with a lot of credit in my eyes.
Darren Stephens, UK

All this is not Jarre's fault! Will the BBC be buying the concert when it goes on the international TV market later this month?
Andy C, Scotland

It was one of the best nights I had in a long time! The concert itself was fantastic, and the rain was most welcome as it not only heightened the experience but also served to get rid of the non-genuine fans. When it came to leaving, my friend and I decided to wait. We'd been standing for six hours - another 20 minutes wouldn't do us any harm. We then headed out of the perimeter, and what fun that was! We experienced real camaraderie between the fans, who were slipping and sliding in the mud, laughing hysterically in total disbelief of the situation. Jokes were exchanged and new friends were made.

The dark walk back to the car was an exciting adventure, as it was impossible to know how firm or deep the ground would be between steps. Once back in the car, we listened to some Jarre CDs, sat back, relaxed and finished off our cigarettes whilst the traffic jam eased away. Finally, we drove out without much trouble.
Eric Williams, UK

Anyone who took the trouble to look at a weather forecast a few days before the event would have realised that rain was likely, and that waterproofs and sensible footwear would be a smart idea.

Sure, I'd rather the organisers had put down some covering on the paths and main concert area but a bit of mud isn't the end of the world and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the concert. If anything, it's made the event even more memorable! I definitely wouldn't say that I felt in any danger and didn't witness anything I thought was unsafe.
Simon Watson, UK

I thought it was a great show although chaotic afterwards. I absolutely do not regret going there, but they should have had lights in the car parks, it wasn't easy to find the car in the dark!
Mats Kadmark, Sweden

Jarre is a little bit crazy. I like his crazy ideas. I was in the concert and stayed at the front of the stage for five hours before the beginning of the great performance. I liked it but the weather was not so nice. Who cares? It was funny and amazing to see Jean Michel playing on his instruments.
Christophe Coussement, Belgium

Superb concert. The Danish know how to cope with such a situation. It seems that they make the best out of every sitaution. Yes, there were some chaotic moments, but the rain was so intense that I don't think, anything could have helped. As Mr Jarre said in London Docklands, frogs like rain...I would say no complaints.
Marcel Lavèn, The Netherlands

We had an great time at the concert. The only thing that was wrong was that the organisation had no clue how to organise this kind of event. Parking and leaving was hell, it took us five hours to do a distance of 200 meters.
Henry, The Netherlands

I was at the show last weekend and the rain did play its part. However, the organisation was poor, regardless of the downpour; no signposts, no lighting, Mad Max-like bus drivers down a narrow road, etc. The rain made things worse but a dry day would have still meant a host of problems.

If the concert was in England, it would not of been granted a licence.

Jean-Michel put on a good show in the conditions, and cannot be blamed for any of the problems. The organisers do have to bear the responsibility, and after Roskilde it was surprising to see the arrangements being so inadequate.
Daniel, UK

I had a great great time. One of the best concerts in my life. But the trip home WAS a downer! The lack of proper planning for catastrophic weater was evident, and there was seemingly no communication between the police/military who were responsible for getting people back home. So; great concert, crap weather and half-arsed organisation/ preparation.
Peter Steens, Denmark

I can't believe all the complaints! AERO was simply spectacular. Grand! I think the rain, mud, wind only added a little more spice to the experience. You simply can't control the weather. Besides, wasn't that the whole point of his concert?! Such a shame Danish people have to be so narrowminded at times. If you can't deal with a wonder of God, then why even book tickets to an open-field concert? Cheers!
Raphael, Denmark

I had a flight back to the UK at 0640am the next day. The concert site was under 30km away and I only just made the flight! It was a nightmare to get out but the concert was one of kind, I did'nt speak to anyone who felt 'unsafe' (just tired and wet)the Danes were almost without exception wonderful (hello Tobias and Stephen) and what did anyone expect - the Royal Albert Hall. Get a Grip. Viva Jean Michel!
Mark Haydon, UK

Though the concert itself was fantastic, it certainly was poorly planned safety wise. It was obvious as we arrived at the site via the makeshift mud tracks that leaving that night would be eventful! There was a serious lack of medical facilities, and I never saw a single sign indicating where first aid was.
Andy Hagerty, Scotland

I loved the concert ! It only cost me a pair of good shoes ;-)
Michel van Osenbruggen, The Netherlands

Spectacular, great, amazing, wonderful, Unbelieveble, these few words are a understatement for the concert I experienced. What a show, it will be forever in my mind! We where in time on the site, before the water plunges out of the sky, that was prommissing. Jean Michel and all the crew, made a spectacular show. Don't blame anyone for the bad weather, don't blame the police & army for the conditions after the concert, just accept it as it was. If anyone is to blame, it should be yourself, you knew the risk in a outdoor concert. I don't think anyone was in danger of some kind, so what are some of you complaining about? If I had to do it again, I would for 100%, including the wheather, the mud and all what came after the show. I can say only one thing: "Jean Michel, THANKS!!! You gave me the time of my life!!!" See you next time, in St. Petersburg maybe?
John Henkelman, The Netherlands

See also:

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