SYDNEY — Disappointed fans stormed out of Whitney Houston's first Australian concert in 12 years, reports said Tuesday, as the ageing diva failed to hit her famous high notes and struggled for breath.
"She couldn't entertain a dead rat, to be honest," one fan told local media outside Monday night's Brisbane concert.
Houston, 46, only managed two songs before taking an extended break and relied heavily on her backup singers, reviewers said, with some remarking she seemed disoriented and unable to remember the names of her band members.
The star was seen coughing frequently, and paused as she was about to hit the epic high note of her signature tune "I Will Always Love You" to towel herself down and take a sip of water.
But promoter Andrew McManus hit back at suggestions she was suffering poor health.
"It was not a train wreck," McManus said. "She was hitting most of the notes, yes her throat was a little croaky.
"Her health is fine but she's also not 22 years of age anymore."
McManus agreed Houston was out of breath in a "couple of songs" and probably wasn't "up to scratch of the Whitney of 20 years ago".
"But I don't apologise for that, she had a red-hot go."
Houston, who has sold more than 170 million albums worldwide, suffered a major career setback after admitting drug use during an abusive relationship with ex-husband Bobby Brown.
The Australian concerts are part of her comeback "Nothing But Love" tour which kicked off at the end of last year.
Some fans said they would be demanding their money back.
"She was not fit to perform," wrote one on the Courier Mail newspaper's website. "She seemed to be on another planet and the concert was laughable." US pop icon Britney Spears attracted the ire of Australian fans in November, with concert-goers reportedly walking out of her show because she was lip-synching.
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