The first and largest openly gay touring festival is axed because organisers can't find a suitable replacement for Sinead O'Connor...

PET SHOP BOYS‘ ‘WOTAPALAVA’ US tour, which was due to kick off this month, has been cancelled because of SINEAD O’CONNOR pulling out of the line-up at the last minute.

Organised by Pet Shop Boys, the event – which would have been the first and largest openly gay touring festival – was originally supposed to feature Pet Shop Boys, O’Connor, Soft Cell, Rufus Wainwright and the Magnetic Fields, as well as DJs Junior Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia.

The tour’s promoters spokesperson said that the last-minute withdrawal of O’Connor and the difficulty in finding a suitable replacement with such short notice led the producers to believe that it would be unwise to proceed with the tour. However, the event is expected to go ahead in 2002.

“This has been a difficult decision to make as the idea of Wotapalava being the largest gay-friendly tour has attracted much enthusiasm and interest, and so much work has already gone into its organisation,” said promoters CAA’s Department Head of Music, Rob Light. “We are already making preparations to ensure that Wotapalava will become a reality next year.”

Pet Shop Boys‘ Neil Tennant, who was one of the driving forces behind the event, added: “We have made this decision with the greatest of reluctance, but it seems impossible to proceed without a complete line-up of artists. We look forward to coming to America next year.”

Both the band and promoters have thanked those involved in this year’s event, and apologised to fans who had already purchased tickets. Refunds are available at point of purchase.