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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tarkan's Wembley Arena Show

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany NTV report; Tarkan on stage

Kick-starting his 2008 Metamorfoz Tour, Tarkan's Wembley Arena show is being hailed as a fantastic turn-out by last Sunday's audience and the Turkish media, even though the prestigious venue wasn't at half capacity, and the artist had suffered some serious setbacks, including a humiliating welcome at the hands of British customs officials a day earlier.

Attendance at the Arena

Attendance figures for the concert in domestic press channels show that less than half of the available spaces were filled at the prestigious venue. The organisers Absolute Events only managed to push 4,500 seats in an arena with a top capacity of 12,500 seats - which is reportedly next hosting a sell-out performance by US artist Beyonce.

It's rumoured that the failure to fill at least half of the places available at the world famous arena has been due to high ticket prices pushed by the organisers, and in large part to mismanagement from Tarkan's Turkish team in their slow response to take full advantage of some extra publicity opportunities that had been made available to the artist.

These are thought to have included additional TV and magazine reports alongside the BBC London radio interview that would have helped to raise Tarkan's profile in the UK - which is almost non-existent outside of the Turkish community with no international release or appearance in the country for over seven years - and that this subsequently contributed to the low turn-out.

Those that did attend the show and emailed Tarkan Deluxe, nevertheless, expressed that Tarkan had not failed to delight, as they had a spectacular time and that the price had been well worth the experience. The audience, alongside the Turkish diaspora and some English fans, included devotees from America, China and Spain - amongst other places - travelling far from home to see him perform live at the prestigious venue.

"I love you all very much. I'm not saying this to make you love me. It's straight from the heart, I really love you. Let's not leave it so long next time," Tarkan is quoted to have said to those attending the show by Turkish paper Milliyet.

The article also mentioned that Tarkan memorabilia were on sale, including T-shirts with Tarkan's image that many fans bought to wear for the event.

Singing his classic and newest Turkish hits (along with two of his English tracks), the artist's show lasted for two hours and began early when the scheduled opening act, rock group maNga, decided not to play citing technical reasons.

Reportedly, they had not been given the chance to carry out adequate sound-checks before the audience were allowed into the venue and so refused to perform.

Wembley Show and Public Reaction

Even though Tarkan had mentioned in his BBC London interview that there might be some surprises in store for fans, the artist sang no new songs and there were no surprise guests featuring on stage, although male and female dancers did accompany him during the live rendition of his classic hit "Hüp".

Tarkan's wardrobe changes were subtle ones for the London concertTarkan's costumes were comprised of his latest suit fads, with three subtle wardrobe changes made during the performance. The artist's outlandish designs of previous years were not to be seen this time around.

The light effects were the usual displays used, with no exceptional differences from past international concerts, even though it had been rumoured Tarkan was preparing to dazzle his fans with some new special effects for the Wembley outing.

Turkish paper Hürriyet provides a gallery of photos of the event from the lens of London based photographer Fuat Erman, and those interested can view the photos at the end of this post.

In the last two days, Tarkan Deluxe has been inundated with emails from fans and readers sharing news links and personal experiences directly after the show, but an editorial decision had been made to delay publication.

This was so as to get the necessary publishing permissions and to give those Tarkan community members, that spent their time and money to participate in the event, a chance to share their memories and information of the day with others first.

Fans have also been asking whether Ali Yildirim was at the concert. Mr Yildirim is currently away spending quality time with his family and was regretfully unable to attend the show.

Turkish Media Coverage of the Visa Violation

The Turkish press, while giving wide coverage to Tarkan's Wembley Arena concert in England last Sunday, also included news that Tarkan was almost refused entry into the UK because of visa problems.

Tarkan had flown to London from Istanbul a day before his hotly-anticipated 13 April Wembley Arena concert with British Airways.

"Tarkan's English Torment"

IHA news report on Tarkan's Wembley ShowTurkish news agency İhlas Haber Ajans ran the news as "Tarkan's English Torment", reporting that the artist managed to give a show that "shook London", despite being forced to experience the humiliation of being kept for over two hours at British customs a day earlier.

"...You know they were almost going to send me back, I swear. I'm being honest. There was a problem with the visa. Supposedly I applied for the wrong sort. Everyone was let through, but me actually. The whole band went through, I was left. I waited two and half hours. I had a permit too, a working permit. But sometimes the English can cause problems.

"To be honest, I was secretly hurt a little. I'm of the opinion that they should make it easier for people like us. We go through a lot of difficulties when travelling," Tarkan was quoted as having said to reporters after the concert, which can also be seen in the video footage provided along with the İHA report.

The video is a montage of excerpts from the day of the concert, and includes reporters questioning the artist after the show. It also shows maNga on stage apologising for not performing before Tarkan takes to the stage, and it can be viewed, courtesy of the İHA, at the end of this post.

Other News Reports

Meanwhile, NTVMSNBC gave a short account of Tarkan "having filled Wembley Arena" with almost 5,000 fans, though failed to mention Tarkan's problematic entry into the country, preferring to focus on the news that press photographers' cameras were collected by the venue's security personnel, which other news reports claim was done at the request of the star himself.

Haberturk covered both aspects of the story, however, in a re-print of the NTVMSNBC report and by following the news lead released by İHA about the UK's near-block to the artist entering the country.

Turkish paper Hürriyet's magazine supplement Kelebek also went with two articles; one followed the original story published by the İHA, while the second gave more information on the visa problems the artist encountered while trying to enter the country.

Press Rumours: Passport Confiscated, Ordered to Leave

Detailing that Tarkan's passport was confiscated by British customs officers, the Kelebek article revealed the artist's fear of almost not showing up for the concert and alleged he was only allowed to enter the country after the Turkish Embassy intervened on his behalf, with the harassed artist ordered to leave the country straight after the show was over.

However, Tarkan denied any such intervention by official channels when asked whether the rumour was true by reporters on the video footage provided by İHA.

The Kelebek article went on to publish rumours that visa difficulties were not the only problems endured by the artist that day. To add insult to injury, British Airways reportedly also lost Tarkan and his girlfriend's luggage, which had been left in Istanbul and were sent over on a following flight.

Tarkan Talks to Turkish Press

Hürriyet's magazine supplement goes on to transcribe in part some other issues that Tarkan talked about with reporters after the show, as provided by the İHA's video footage.

Amongst other things asked by reporters, Tarkan responded to questions on marriage, future concerts, his English album venture and relationships with female song-writers Sezen Aksu and Nazan Öncel.

Marriage and Mentors

Saying of the concert, "It was a super concert. When time allows, I'll always be with him at his concerts," Tarkan's long-term girlfriend Bilge Öztürk denied marriage rumours : "We didn't get married, we don't have a date for the wedding. We've been together for seven years and we're very happy. If we get married we'd tell you, why should we hide it..."

Tarkan, on the other hand, reportedly responded by saying: "Who invented marriage, I'm really curious to know. I don't see any successful marriages in my community. There's no possibility of a marriage date."

However, when a journalist on the İHA's video queried whether his girlfriend, after seven years, was "probably expecting a marriage proposal", the article writes that Öztürk reportedly replied from inside the car to say, "You bet!"

On a question about where Tarkan was going to appear next in the world, the artist was filmed replying that he believed he had dates in Russia and Antalya in Turkey. These might be the two festivals that have been circulating in the press, although a Russian outing has yet to be confirmed by the artist's official site.

Turning to issues with other artists, when Tarkan was reminded about his turbulent relationships with musical collaborators Aksu and Öncel, the Kelebek article wrote that he responded by saying, "I love both of them very much. Currently I'm on speaking terms with both of them. I get offended, hurt and angry, but I have a deep connection of hearts with them. I love them both."

In the video footage, Tarkan also mentioned the Aksu collaborations that he removed from the 2007 album, stating that Aksu herself told him to take them out as the album had taken a different, more pop-heavy direction.

In relation to a respected folk artist's comment that his English album had been a mistake, "I tried the English album, good or bad. Maybe I'll try again. The important thing is to try," he explained.

And finally, when the artist was questioned about any Turkish TV appearances, specifically the campaign by Turkish talk-show host Beyazıt Öztürk (known as Beyaz) to get him on TV, the artist was evasive, merely commenting that he sometimes watched the show, and blew the presenter a kiss - prompting fans to speculate that Tarkan might make a surprise appearance on Kanal D's late night entertainment slot.

News had been released of plans for Tarkan to appear at MTV's Turkish studios, however, Turkish fans are still waiting for their favourite pop idol to appear on their home screens.

Video and Photographs of Tarkan at Wembley Arena

Tarkan Pictures at Tarkan Visual
Video footage (5.31 MB/06.38 mins) courtesy of IHA, pictures from Hürriyet Fotogaleri

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