Wiley suffered a “mid-life crisis” before his performance on the final night of Refreshers Week (24 January), according to the Student Association’s Director of Events and Services, Chris McRae.
Describing how he went to meet Wiley at the Old Course Hotel around 15 minutes before the start of the event’s first support act, Mr McRae said: “The best way I can probably describe it is that he had a mid-life crisis right in front of me. He turned up and he seemed really sort of agitated and flustered.”
Mr McRae continued, “He was sort of moaning a bit about his booking agent and how he, quite often recently seems to be getting booked in places where he feels that people don’t know any of his music.
“Then that sort of developed into him saying ‘oh look, I’m 37 years old, I feel like I’m past it, I haven’t released a big song in a few years now, all the gigs I do nowadays people are just looking for Stormzy and Skepta and all these newer grime artists, you know nobody wants to hear my stuff anymore.’
“And I said ‘well, look we’ve sold 1200 tickets so obviously people do want to see your stuff, but he wasn’t really buying it’. “The idea that I got was that he’d been doing gigs down in London where perhaps the grime scene is a little stronger than it is here in St Andrews.”
Mr McRae suggested that he felt that the people who had attended these London gigs saw him as “irrelevant” and that the reaction from the people in St Andrews would be the same.
However, Mr McRae said that he thought the fact the event was sold out was a clear indication that people in St Andrews wanted to see him, suggesting that they would have been more receptive to his older songs than people in London were. “I think he just had a panic and thought ‘do you know what, I’m just gonna have another bad gig, no one’s gonna like me.”
Indeed, Wiley posted several updates on Twitter on the night in question, saying that he was “In the middle of nowhere” and that “Something ain’t right [sic].” He then went on to add ““Bruv I don’t even know what to say anymore …@DJTarget Billy keeps sending me to the earths core…I can’t do it lol [sic].”
Mr McRae told The Saint how he went back to the Union to finalise preparations for the event where he then “got a phone call saying ‘I just heard him booking a taxi back to the airport and he’s clearly decided to cancel the gig.’”
“So we got taxi back to Old Course, and just as we were arriving we saw him getting in his taxi and leaving and the taxi driver goes “do you want me to chase him?”
“So we’re in a movie-esque situation, chasing Wiley in a taxi out of St Andrews.”
“We eventually lost him on a corner somewhere.”
Mr McRae then described how the “panic set in” and how he began drafting an announcement to tell people than the gig had been cancelled.
However, he then said how he was able find Wiley’s mobile number in his records.
“I gave him a call, and it seems he’d had a change of heart of some sort.
“When he did come back, he said that he really appreciated what I was doing, because most places he’s just getting experienced events managers booking him into gigs and it just seems very corporate.
“He said ‘look, I realise you’re a student, you’re trying hard at doing what you’re doing, and I didn’t want to screw that up for you.’”
“I guess there’s a heart in there somewhere, but obviously it was very frustrating,” Mr McRae said.
“So he was in venue from about 12, but wasn’t ready to go on, he needed to relax.
“I was panicking about whether he was still going to go on stage, I still thought he might bail on the whole thing and obviously when he did go on he ended up going on really late.”
Wiley eventually arrived onstage at around 1:15 am.
On the whole McRae said that “sometimes there’s just nothing you can do if an artist doesn’t want to be professional about what they do.”
Mr McRae also told The Saint that Wiley had actually already cancelled a gig in Warwick earlier that week and went on to cancel one in Newcastle, “so funnily enough we’re the only gig that he didn’t cancel that week.”
Mr McRae dismissed several rumours surrounding the event, such the fact that many on social media said that when he did come on stage, Wiley did not perform his own music.
Mr McRae also sharply refuted any claims that he had told people they would receive refunds on the price of their ticket for the night, saying that as they had gotten Wiley on stage, the Union had “fulfilled its obligation.”
Hannah Schmidt-Wolf, a student who attended the gig told The Saint that:
“When we heard that Wiley was coming my friends and I got really excited and bought tickets straight away, but once we got there it was such a disappointment.
“Wiley was really late and once he turned up he hardly rapped but talked instead although his fans wanted music and I feel like everyone that went was let down.”
Personally, Mr McRae described how the night was “just a stress really, not knowing whether it was going to go ahead. I’m not personally annoyed at it.
“It’s just been a relief that we actually got him to perform.”
The Saint contacted Wiley’s management for comment, but have not received a reply.