Arctic Monkeys Vs The Orwells: When Support Acts Bite The Hand That Feeds Them

You’re the biggest band in the country and you offer a support slot to a fledgling guitar troupe to help give them a leg up, and how do they repay you? By suggesting your act might be a little, er, mechanical. The Orwells have since apologised (no, not for their shonky name) to their paymasters for the “synchronised” diss, but Alex Turner was clearly hurt nonetheless. “They should have been out trying to get laid instead of watching us every night,” he suggested.

It might be bad mannered to bite the hand that feeds, but it’s not the first time a support act has badmouthed the main attraction, sometimes with hilarious consequences. Here are a bunch of support bands being remarkably unsupportive to their larger champions.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience / The Monkees


If you’d imagined band beefs were a new phenomenon you’d be wrong, they’re just much easier to exacerbate these days when artists get drunk and take to Twitter. Back in the peace loving latter part of the 60s, some cats just didn’t get along. Touring rock ‘n’ roll around the country was a nascent industry, meaning a lot of bills would look incredibly incongruous if promoted today. Like lysergic guitar monster and mister sexy pants, Jimi Hendrix, supporting teenybop sensations, The Monkees. Hendrix complained all the way, and no doubt raised a few eyebrows thrusting his pelvis in a room full of 12-year-olds and their mothers. “Oh God, I hate them!” he said of the Monkees. “Dishwater! You can’t knock anybody for making it, but people like the Monkees?” One story goes that patriotic pressure group the Daughters of the American Revolution complained about his ‘lewd and indecent’ act and had him removed from the bill, but it’s more likely Jimi got the Experience out of the contract himself.

Morrissey / David Bowie

As an aficionado of all things glam rock, Morrissey clearly spent untold hours listening to Ziggy Stardust, and Bowie returned the compliment when he recorded ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Some Day’ on ‘Black Tie White Noise’ and then invited Morrissey to tour with him for the 1995 Outside Tour. Moz left after quibbling Bowie’s idea for the changeover between artists, which included a duet which resulted in Morrissey and his musicians “fading away”, according to the ex-Smiths man. Bowie never spoke to him again. “You have to worship at the Temple of David when you become involved,” Morrissey later said in a TV interview. “He was a fascinating artist in 1970, 71, 72… but not now”. Ouch.

Faith No More / Guns ‘n’ Roses

Faith No More went from flaky cult concern to MTV-approved stadium rockers in the blink of an eye in the early 90s, though when they were offered support slot to Guns ‘n’ Roses on their Use Your Illusion tour, they didn’t exactly play the game. In fact they couldn’t help airing Axl’s dirty linen in public every night in an attempt to antagonise the main attraction, not to mention their crowd. “A juicy titbit I heard the other day was that Warren Beatty was fucking Axl’s girlfriend,” said Mike Patton to a chorus of boos. The G’n’R singer got wind of the things Patton was saying on stage and in the press and summoned the band for a private meeting. “We got busted one day and we had to go apologise,” says bassist Billy Gould in The Faith No More & Mr Bungle Companion. “It was like getting in the principal’s office. We went and met Axl in his room, and to tell you the truth he was super-cool and super-gracious”.


Flaming Lips / Arcade Fire

Wayne Coyne is a man generally known for his generosity of spirit, so it was with some surprise that he dissed Win Butler’s winsome Canadian superstars Arcade Fire when the two played together in 2009. “They have good tunes, but they’re pricks, so fuck ‘em,” blasted Coyne when speaking to Rolling Stone. Win Butler said the offhandedness may have come from jetlag, and the leader of the Oklahoma-based psych-rockers was later repentant about his outburst.

The Enemy / Oasis

The Enemy – or the Enema to their detractors – provoked the ire of Liam Gallagher when they were due to support the band in 2009, following comments made by singer Tom Clarke. He’d questioned in a previous interview why guitarist and main songwriter Noel Gallagher continued to play with the band. “I don’t think Noel needs to do it anymore,” Clarke apparently said. It didn’t go down well in the Oasis camp. “Do you want to go on first or what you little fucker?” tweeted Liam, prompting a defence from Clarke that he’d been “misquoted”. The Enemy singer then mysteriously went down with food poisoning and had to cancel the band’s show at Manchester’s Heaton Park. Presciently, Noel called it a day three months later.

The Feeling / Bon Jovi

The Feeling had their, er, feelings hurt, when they supported Bon Jovi in 2008, and all because Jon Bon Jovi didn’t speak to them. Imagine that, Jon Bon Jovi, up himself?! Lead singer Dan Gillespie said: “You would have thought Jon would have at least said ‘hi’ to us. They go as far as to close off corridors when they’re in them – your AAA pass doesn’t count”. Bassist and husband of Sophie Ellis Bextor, Richard Jones, added: “We were treated like a support act, which was strange considering we were a billed band.” The Feeling have supported Bon Jovi on further occasions since then, because finding douchey mid-sized soft rockers is about as easy as finding a Labour voter in Surrey.

Calvin Harris / Katy Perry

A war of words broke out on Twitter between Calvin Harris and Katy Perry in 2011, when the Scottish producer suddenly cancelled his support slot due to technical issues, much to the American singer’s chagrin. “Sorry to all who wanted to see me with Katy,” tweeted Harris, “her team suddenly moved the goalposts and I was to appear on stage with no production.” Katy hit back: “‘The goalpost seems to be perfectly fine for New Young Pony Club, Yelle, Robyn, Marina & The Diamonds, to name a few. Or how ‘bout Janell [sic] Monae and her 16 piece band… It’s fine, I’m used to you cancelling on me, it’s become ur staple!” That’s him told.

Future / Drake

Rising hip hop star Future had his immediate present thrown into chaos when Drake threw him off tour last year for some choice words about the Canadian megastar’s ‘Nothing Was The Same’ album. “Drake made an album that is full of hits, but it doesn’t grab you,” Future blabbed to Rolling Stone. Everyone’s a critic! His management argued that the comments had been off the record, though that’s closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. The pair have since kissed and made up however, with Drake lending a verse to Future’s ‘Never Satisfied’.

Biffy Clyro / Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor won’t be monning the biff any time soon, after an outburst last year following Nine Inch Nail’s Reading Festival appearance. In a blog post, Reznor took exception with “the lying promoter and the band following us (whoever the fuck they are)”, who he claimed “fucked us on our production.” Biffy Clyro retorted that Reznor had spat his “dummy out”, which if you’re a legendary industrial metal outfit who’ve plied their trade for more than a quarter of a century who’re suddenly reduced to playing below a band who call themselves ‘Biffy’, it’s perhaps understandable.

Iron Maiden / Ozzy Osbourne

A feud broke out between these two monsters of rock in 2005, or more accurately, between Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson and Ozzy’s wife Sharon Osbourne. Supposedly in retaliation to remarks made by Dickinson about the “loathsome” reality TV series The Osbournes, Shazza cut the band’s sound three times during an Ozzfest appearance. Dickinson took issue over the microphone and Maiden walked, only for Sharon to take to the stage to call him a “prick” to much booage. Booo! Booo! The Irons’ manager Ron Smallwood called the attack on the band “vile, dangerous, criminal and cowardly”. Ozzy later spoke to The Quietus about the spat, saying he had no idea at the time what was going down: “Unbeknown to me, every night [Dickinson] was going on stage slagging me off, and that wasn’t fair. If he didn’t like the fuckin’ tour, he should have said ‘I’m jumping the fuckin’ tour,’ but to go on stage and fuckin’ slag me off for no reason. I’d never said a fuckin’ bad thing to him. The bass player [Steve Harris] came round at the last gig and said ‘I’m sorry about Bruce’ and I’m like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ Nobody had told me, you know. I said, ‘You know what? I don’t understand what the fuck you’re talking about here.’”

Any more handbags between support acts and main acts that we should know about?