Sir Bob Geldof’s bizarre cameo at Wednesday night’s ARIA Awards has been slammed as a “trainwreck” and “disrespectful” to the ceremony and its host Keith Urban.
And in a second ARIAs controversy, the choice by Nine to go full rock’n’roll and not censor four F-bombs during the broadcast was questioned by some viewers.
Jimmy Barnes, Kasey Chambers, Dean Lewis and Geldof himself all swore during the pre-recorded event, starting with the former Cold Chisel frontman at 8.20pm when he thanked his siblings for living through “the f–––ing life with me”.
According to a Nine spokesperson, the ARIA Awards were rated ‘M’ and started with the viewing advice for the television audience that it would contain some coarse language during the telecast.
“The four uses were considered to be properly justified by their context,” the spokesperson told The New Daily.
The language question was a blip compared to the charismatic and divisive antics of the former Boomtown Rats frontman.
Geldof was invited by Urban to the stage in the dying minutes of the ARIAs to present song of the year, the final award of the night.
But things went off the rails quickly, with Geldof one of the few guests of the night who felt totally unconstrained by convention and free to not be earnest.
He was non-committal when Urban, 51, reminded the Irish singer, 67, he hosted the ARIAS in 1991. He also presented Chambers with her album of the year award in 2002.
“Apparently I did,” said Geldof, who admitted on the red carpet he didn’t know any of the ARIA-nominated acts because he “doesn’t listen” to music any more.
Urban took a swing at a joke: “Memorable experience?”
Not so much, said Geldof; “It was at a time when you don’t remember these sorts of things. They come and go.”
Shot back Urban, “Like tonight?”
Geldof couldn’t help himself. “Judging by your performance, yes,” he shot back.
The sledge had some in the crowd laughing nervously, and Urban fighting his corner: “I haven’t even played yet! It is a tough room, it is a tough room.”
The multiple Grammy winner, whose wife Nicole Kidman was in the front row, let it slide when Geldof appeared to call him ‘Jim’.
The internet responded immediately, with music reviewer Cameron Adams calling it a “salty exchange” and others asking if Geldof was taking the mickey and going “rogue”.
“Go home, pommy git,” urged one Twitter user, who called Geldof “so disrespectful” towards Urban, whose music credentials are stronger.
Another urged Geldof to “leave Keith alone” because “at least he bothered to comb his hair.”
Did… Geldof just insult Keith Urban *to his face*? #arias
— hire me👩🎤 (@tibutler) November 28, 2018
My butt has never clenched so much in discomfort as it did watching Bob Geldof talk at the #ARIAs. Train wreck
— Phoenix Rai (@PhoenixRaii) November 28, 2018
So Bob Geldof is an EXTREMELY loose unit and I think the people who booked him secretly knew this #ARIAs
— Paul Donoughue (@paulwdonoughue) November 28, 2018
This #arias hosting shade from FIFO celebrities is cringey. Act like you want to be there, ppl, you're getting paid.
— beverley wang (@beverleywang) November 28, 2018
Until then, the ceremony had been more clunky and anodyne than anything else. The slightly dishevelled Geldof injected some interest and vigour.
When Urban asked what brought the Irish musician to Sydney, Geldof said “You called me and begged me to help you out tonight.”
Urban was sick of taking the high road, telling the singer – whose last hit was in the 1980s – “It’s nice for someone to call and ask you for help.”
Repartee done, it was time for Geldof to introduce song of the year but when he couldn’t follow the autocue, saying he “couldn’t read red”, he went off script.
“There’s very few people who make it to the top of the game and tonight there’s – again, it is down to three or four or five people who get to have the Song of the Year, the song better than any other song ever this year, the song that from all over the world gets to win this thing, “I can’t read the stuff, so I’m making this up, but it sounds f–––ing good to me,” he declared.
Amid the semi-chaos, Geldof – who was at the night with former Noiseworks singer Jon Stevens, according to Twitter – finally managed to hand the award went to 5 Seconds of Summer for Youngblood.