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Critic is put out of action by pre-concert attack

Evan Dickerson has been missed in London’s concert halls of late. Here’s why.

“It’s the first time I’ve been attacked before reviewing a concert!”  -

by Evan Dickerson


Classical music critics lead a fairly quiet life. The risk of falling foul of the occasional agent or PR person following an outspoken comment is as about as dangerous as it is likely to get.

Until a few weeks ago. On 9 December 2012, I was travelling with my girlfriend Bev by train from London Victoria to Eastbourne to review the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski play a programme of Brahms, Mozart and Bruckner.

A group of three men in their twenties were sitting across the aisle from us on the train and were obviously having fun and sharing jokes among themselves. There was nothing to cause alarm.

What followed took little more than a minute. At some point after leaving East Croydon station, one of them started to insist that he could no longer feel his body. His manner became agitated.  He pulled the emergency alarm and was shouting to the guard to stop the train; the next station, Gatwick Airport, was still some distance away.

Bev has worked in the past with drug addicts and realised that he was having a psychotic incident. His behaviour became increasingly erratic and his friends realised that he was no longer joking around. A male passenger offered help, but was met with abuse. I turned my head to see what was happening. That attracted the man’s attention. Shouting, “It’s you, I know it’s you”, he punched me hard on the side of my face and grabbed me by the neck. I freed myself fairly easily, since he was not fully in control of his actions. This frustrated him and he stamped on my left foot a couple of times. At Bev’s encouragement, I made it into the adjoining carriage, whilst she remained to gather our things.


One of the attacker’s friends came to check we were alright and was apologetic. He said that they had taken Ecstasy and other substances the night before. Beyond Gatwick, we debated whether we should abort the trip and return home. With a review expected by my editor and since I felt little more than a bit shaken up we decided to continue. Arriving at Eastbourne in good time, we had time for a short stroll by the sea, where I noted that my left foot was actually quite painful. Taking our seats in the Congress Theatre, I felt a twinge of irony in noting that the first work was Brahms’ Tragic overture. The concert was a fine one, as you can read in my review.

For the next three days, I continued life as normal, but when things still failed to improve I went to A&E at my local hospital. An x-ray showed I had a broken toe and a broken metatarsal. (Bev lost no time in noting that I now have something in common with David Beckham!) I have been on crutches since then. Both injuries are recovering well according to the check-up I had yesterday. Hopefully reviewing concerts in 2013 will prove as exciting as it has always been, but singularly lacking in any injuries.



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  1. A music critic was once accosted by an opera singer ” this is from Reggie ” and poured some wine over his head. It was the result of some sarcastic comments about slow tempos in Wagner. Maybe someone here can elaboarate.

    • I should add that this was very much in the category of post-concert fall-out as Sir Reginald Goodall had passed away by the time of this event.

  2. Tim Jackson says:

    Very sorry to hear of Mr Dickerson’s experience. I did like his review on Bachtrack, though, and am generally very impressed by their coverage. Very widespread reviews, and detailed without pretentiousness. And their concert listings are superb too. What do others think?

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