Anne-Marie found herself at a loose end in South Korea this weekend, when a festival stage she was due to play on was deemed “structurally unsafe”.
But rather than visit Incheon’s Grand Park or lounge on the white sands of Eurwangni Beach, she booked a hotel function room and staged a free, impromptu gig for fans.
“We didn’t want you guys to go home without seeing us perform,” she said.
“Korea spread the word – No-one will stop the show.”
Fans crowded into the Rubik Lounge at Incheon’s Paradice-City hotel as Anne-Marie took to the stage shortly before midnight, playing hits including 2002, Ciao Adios, Alarm and Friends.
The show’s last-minute nature was emphasised when, between songs, Anne-Marie consulted with her band about what to play next.
“Honestly, we did not know this was going to happen, so we’re all just making it up as we go,” she told the audience, “so these guys are just playing whatever comes into their heads.
“To be honest, soon, I’m just going to be asking if anyone wants to hear a specific song because we have no setlist.”
Several of the songs were re-arranged on the fly – with acoustic versions taking precedence over the programmed beats of her debut album, Speak Your Mind.
The audience were supportive and enthusiastic with two fans in the front row volunteering to perform Sean Paul’s rapped verse on Rock-A-Bye.
During Perfect To Me, a song about body positivity and self-acceptance, Anne-Marie broke down in tears. The crowd began to chant “울지 마라.” (don’t cry) as she composed herself.
And as she closed the concert with 2002, the audience threw hundreds of colourful paper planes onto the stage to thank the singer for keeping her promise to play in Korea.
The free concert was also streamed live on Instagram for those who couldn’t make it.
‘Just gonna cry’
Anne-Marie first broke news of her non-appearance at South Korea’s Holiday Land Festival on Twitter.
In a video message, she said: “I don’t really know what’s going on, but I’ve been told that the stage I was performing on is structurally unsafe so I’m not going to be able to go on.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so annoyed, and I’m just gonna cry in my room the whole night.”
The star said she “was told I’d have to sign an agreement where I would be liable for people’s deaths if the stage broke,” although that tweet has since been deleted.
A few hours later, she reappeared to say she had “rented out” a lounge at a nearby hotel, and would be playing at 23:30 local time.
“Be there, it’s free,” she said. “For everyone that’s gone home already, I’m so sorry, but we’ll be back.”
The singer started her career as a featured vocalist on tracks by Rudimental and Clean Bandit before striking out on her own.
A nine-time Brit nominee (and a black belt in karate), she had the UK’s best-selling debut album of 2018, and has scored top 10 hits with 2002 and Friends.
She is due to play China later this week; ahead of festival appearances across Europe in August and September.
Check out some of her fans’ messages and snippets from the Korean show below.