A PERFORMER in Newbury’s Market Place was forced to finish his set early after receiving a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse and threatening gestures from a market trader.
Rob Bradford, known by his stage name Robb E Retro, said it was the “worst abuse” he had ever received as he performed a selection of mostly crowd-pleasing classics to families and children on Thursday.
Mr Bradford had been booked by Newbury Town Council to perform at the market as it looks to improve footfall.
The experienced performer, from Thatcham, explained how the man had launched into two separate verbal tirades – complaining about the quality of singing and the volume, and even at one point reportedly made ‘throat-slitting gestures’ towards Mr Bradford.
“It was a bit disconcerting,” said the singer, who has performed with the likes of Aled Jones and Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones.
He said: “He just walked straight up to me, he looked very angry and very aggressive.
“He stood about six inches away from my face and started swearing and telling me I was ‘effing’ rubbish and asking how long I’ll be playing for.
“Although I was a bit disconcerted, I just carried on and he stormed off.”
After brushing aside the personal insults, Mr Bradford continued with his repertoire of hits from the 50s and 60s before the man reappeared and again began shouting and swearing.
“He came back over and started saying the same things and at one point he made a throat-slitting gesture toward me.
“I’m not getting paid, I just wanted to do it for fun and to entertain people.
“I was about 10 minutes from the end of my set, so I just thought that was enough.”
Mr Bradford said he did not make a formal complaint about the market trader and, with his 50 years of performing experience, would not let the episode dent his confidence.
However, he said other less experienced performers could be put off performing in the Market Place because of such abuse.
Newbury Town Council confirmed Mr Bradford’s singing was not above the agreed volume level and that it had spoken to the trader involved.
Chair of the council’s market working group, Martha Vickers, said she was “disappointed” to hear of the incident and confirmed that efforts would be made to ensure similar incidents do not occur in the future.
She added: “It’s a bit sad when you’ve got someone giving their time for free.
“I would like to apologise to the musician on behalf of the council, because we do value their contribution to making the market a brighter place.”
Newbury Town Council chief executive Hugh Peacocke said: “It was an isolated incident and we have spoken with the trader concerned.
“We are working on creating a better atmosphere in the Market Place.
“We spoke to the traders and the market manager about what we were planning with the music in the Market Place and they were happy with that.
“Looking at what it’s done, we’re happy that it is improving the atmosphere and seems to be increasing footfall at the market, which is what the town council and the traders want.”