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Canada  

Hedley back on stage

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard refused to soften his band's frat boy persona on Thursday as they played their first show since announcing plans for an "indefinite hiatus" in the wake of recent sexual assault allegations.

The singer didn't spend any time acknowledging the apology he issued a day earlier on social media for what he called "reckless and dismissive" treatment of women throughout his career.

Instead, Hoggard paused for a moment to thank fans for their unwavering support but spent more time playing into the band's trademark antics with thinly veiled sexual innuendoes. None of it appeared to phase the Brampton, Ont. crowd who responded with enthusiastic cheers.

At one point in the show Hoggard encouraged fans to hold the hand of the person next to them and profess their interest in having the other person serve them "breakfast."

"Because, baby, you're my most important meal of the day," Hoggard said.

"I don't know what means. I just made it up. Ow!" he added before quickly moving on.

During another break in the set he called out a young woman near the front who he said was texting during his performance. He confiscated her phone and rifled through the contacts, stopping briefly on one labelled "Dad."

"Who's dad?" Hoggard asked. "Dad? Is that what you call him?"

Those moments contrasted a statement by Hedley on Wednesday which promised to "take a long hard look in the mirror" in response to their past behaviour.

A 24-year-old Ottawa fan of the band alleged to the CBC that she was sexually assaulted by Hoggard after chatting with him on the dating app Tinder and agreeing to meet him at a hotel in Toronto. Hoggard's lawyer Brian Shiller said in a statement that the woman and the Hedley frontman had "made a mutual plan to get together to have sex and they did just that."

In a statement, Hoggard said he has "never engaged in non-consensual sexual behaviour," but acknowledged he "behaved in a way that objectified women" and was "reckless and dismissive of their feelings."

Near the end of the concert, the singer came closest to recognizing the worsening storm of recent weeks, which saw Hedley's management sever ties, radio stations pull their music and one venue cancel plans to host an upcoming concert.

He thanked the audience for "believing and standing behind us" and said that "sometimes life sucks."

"If you didn't show up here we couldn't play here. You're the reason we fight, the reason we sing," he said.

As the show ended, Public Enemy's "Don't Believe the Hype" played over the auditorium speakers.



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