Tsunami Relief Cardiff
Saturday 22nd January 2005
The welsh help the world!
Let me be honest about this from the start, this was not a festival, it was not an event the stadium wanted to host, it was however something the stadium felt it had to do after seeing the Boxing day tsunami that hit south east Asia and also something that 60,000 people, mostly Welsh, agreed they had to attend to raise money for the survivors and remind people to donate to the long term rebuilding effort.
As such, vf felt that after the promotion and news coverage we should play our part and sent down writer Julian Savitch-Lee and photographer Adele Evans to the welsh capital to give you the low-down on the UK’s biggest charity benefit since Live Aid. If you enjoy reading their work, they and vf? have requested that you donate at least £1 to the concert fund or direct to the DEC.
So, we get to Cardiff and there is excitement in the air. There is also cloud, water and cold in the air, but no one is upset, they are just looking forward to as Keane’s singer Tom ?????????????? put it ‘one of the best nights of your life’.
We don’t care because we know we are doing our bit to help others whose lives have been torn apart since Boxing Day and we have heard the roof will be closed over the stadium. Yippee! We are using a stadium as an arena. the stadium are looking to keep the roof closed for future concerts and create a way of hosting smaller concerts in what is “Europe’s biggest indoor music venue”.
So, Cardiff you have done an incredible job in getting the show on 3 weeks, can you prove that you can cut it as the best and the biggest arena venue I have ever been to and can you raise the £1million you were hoping to add to the fund for Tsunami relief?
We get in easy enough and the collectors are getting people to donate their loose change in return for a glowing red light. People take to the seats in this vast cavernous but fantastically laid out venue. At 3pm the fun really begins when we meet the first pair in our team of presenters. Alex Zane and Edith bowman who tell us the way its going to be for the day, band then presenters who introduce a video message, more of the presenters who fill rushed sound checking time followed by the next band repeat till finale some 7 and a half hours away!!!
First up are a bunch of unknowns as pre show entertainment…and we need to warm up the vast arena/stadium as it is freezing! We are introduced to Camera, a Wrexham based band who I’m sure will be better known in the future. They are a good live act that has supported Supergrass and the Delays. Camera played 2 songs. Watch out for their debut album out later this year.
Now for the show proper and the 2nd Welsh artist of the day, the beautiful
Katherine Jenkins who performed 4 songs to the crowd which is now about 35,000 strong. Her set was stirring and awoke the crowd. She is 2 albums into a 6 album deal with Universal classical. I’m sure this brought the ex choirgirl of the year to new audiences. She finished on the football anthem ‘You sill never walk alone’ now delivered with a new meaning and added poignancy given why we were here.
Next up was my favourite presenter of the day Fearne Cotton who is my around my age, from London too (I swear we share the same accent, mannerisms and reactions to things!) and my girlfriend (I wish!). Ms Cotton was so spot on with my thinking all day I would like to introduce a section of this review called…’Fearne says…I agree!’
Her first comment about Katherine Jenkins was great and it was exactly just what I had been thinking Fearne said “Katherine Jenkins…what a voice, what a dress!” I agreed.
Next came the weirdest moment of the day, two videos. First Tony Blair receiving deafening boos, then newsreader Huw ‘huge cheer’ Edwards, this could only be Wales and the atmosphere is building!
3.45pm and the band of 2004 take to the stage early on as they have to go to the US for a promotional tour. Opening with ‘Otherside’ it is of course Keane. 2nd track ‘everybody’s changing’ brings out the inflatable daffodils in the crowd standing at the front. They continue with 1st single, ‘Somewhere only we know’, then ‘This is the last time’ the current single before finishing on ‘Bedshaped’. Without further to do the presenters bring on a MOBO winner, Raghev who two tracks lived the place up.
Then we have another local girl, that’s right, its Charlotte Church! She is sporting a new look and singing a new style of music. The R’n’B number doesn’t work, she looks good though even though the fear is obvious she says “I don’t sing and dance, so that was a first!”. She gets better; a beautiful version of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” follows, but the fear is still there. Charlotte says “I don’t think I have ever sung in front of so many people before, except at the rugby here and then they were like, get her off and get the rugby on!” she said it so fast because of her nerves I thought it was Vicky Pollard on stage! Got to love her though, her heart is in the right place and as she told our photographer Adele she was “staying with her gran that night, its only down the road!”. Charlotte’s final song was amazing, the classic ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ proved that Ms Church really does have the voice of an angel with a personality to match.
Hilarity ensues as June Sarpong and the sexy Fearne Cotton get caught out with little left to say as Lemarr’s set up takes a while. Fearne asks if there are “any Clapton fans in the house?” Surely any Clapton fans would be away at Hornchurch watching the game at 4.30pm on this particular Saturday! Bad question Fearne but you are looking so hot, I’m falling for you even if nobody puts in the performance of a life time. You have definatly come along way from those Disney club days of the late 90’s!
So, now we have the Fearne titled ‘Lovely, luscious, Lemar’ who if losing Lame (sorry I mean Fame!)Academy hasn’t given him a career or made him have the calibre of Liberty X i.e. being successful and more popular, credible artists than the winners then this performance made him rise in my expectations. Opening with the Marvin Gaye classic ‘Let’s stay together’ the soul singer stopped to remind people that it is isn’t about what has been raised today, that is just the start he claims and echoes the plea to make 2005 a year of change. Before singing his last two singles and including ‘If there’s any justice’ he closes his plea telling Cardiff to ‘keep thinking about everyone else’. Considering the events of Boxing Day I have to agree with Lemarr, there is no justice in the world, but whilst that thought lingers in the mind. Lemar is gone and our presenting team are back telling us we have raised £606,290.
Time for Craig David and an acoustic set. Not a personal highlight prior to the beginning of the event, but looking back writing this report up I have to say that his set of ‘Rise and Fall’ and ‘Walking away’ interspersed with an excellent rendition of the forever covered ‘Come together’ was well placed in the day and appriacted by many of the audience now nearing full capacity. ‘Come together’ seemed to strike a chord with people and the crowd was ready for a bit more rock and roll.
Snow Patrol was well enjoyed and drew good cheers from the grateful but cold crowd. Any one who didn’t not by any merchandise in this chilly but dry stadium was cleary missing the point. Its cold and the stadium isn’t much warmer and at this point we are only a third of the way through. This band have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and this set saw them play five songs including singalongs for ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Run’.
Things were about to get a bit crazy…that’s right local boys playing their biggest ever show. Goldie Looking Chain opened with ‘Guns don’t kill people….rappers do’ and the dance floor sprung to life. The boys looked at home here and maybe there should play again whilst they are still really cool, I mean not to be a pessimist, but loads of bands break up after realising their ‘greatest hits album!’ I for one hope they don’t because they were obviously the comedy highlight of the day! In their element and on best behavouir knowing they couldn’t go crazy, on this special performance.
At this point, after a dance with the most smiley people I have seen since last summer, its time for a chill in the press bar and you know what…its on the tele! Wicked! I watch them play ‘You know I love you baby – Is that right?’ and then something happens that shocks me…adverts! Turns out its live on S4C, the Welsh language channel and I find out about this by not understanding the presenter when the English language ads are over. Athough puzzled, I am still thinking about GLC’s comment ‘Its gotta be the biggest room in Wales’ and a reference in the programme by David Pickering the Chairman of the Millennium Stadium who wrote ‘there was a general consensus among the staff that we had a responsibility as the biggest indoor arena in Europe to do something positive’. Good work so far…David!
As GLC sign the backstage logo wall (SEE PHOTS!), Badly Drawn Boy takes to the stage. As a fan of his, I am disappointed, but not as disappointed as he is. Opening with ‘Silent Sigh’ and BDB sitting at the piano things start off well. Then moving on the guitar, the sound isn’t right. Poor guy, the pain was etched on his face. You could tell he wanted to play an excellent set, do his bit and get people to donate, but given the tight schedule and the quick changeovers he hasn’t time to sort out the problem nor have a strop live on TV . So he carries on with ‘know your right’ ‘above you, below you’ and on to his breakthrough single ‘cant remember the name!!! – help Ross’ and the most unreal moment of the day happens without BDB seeing it…a Mexican wave goes round the top two tiers five times. Mexican wave to Badly Drawn Boy….at a Tsuamni relief concert…you couldn’t make this up! (I DON’T THINK I HAVE A PIC OF THIS?)
So a disappointed and probably relieved BDB goes to sign the wall backstage (PHOTO) and Aled Jones (yes, the kid from the snowman theme tune you have seen presenting on TV recently) tries cracking a few jokes but I miss them as my mind is firmly on Fearne Cotton who changes her attire to wear one of the Tsunami relief t-shirts. She tell us to buy one. I’ve already told you, it was cold but a novel feature in Britain is a roof over of sporting stadium despite our inclement weather. So this place got it right and a roof meant despite rain all day it was dry inside! It was good for January unusual, lets not be British about this I hope you bought some merchandise if you went one if you went, because it was the coming together that made the artists want to play this show for free. Ms Cotton tells us that her (fruit of the loom) t-shirt is a bit big and could be used as a nightie – Fearne, I hope you are reading this because you are welcome to wear your cotton nightie round at mine anytime!!!
Aled Jones has a great voice, despite not being able to hit the same notes as when he was a kid and he praises his heroes who have already played….Goldie Looking chain. He hopes there a duet in the pipeline…me too, that would be well funny! Aled sings ‘You raise me up’ as his last classical song and the crowd is ready to rock…sorry, not yet need another pop star first and he gets the second worst reception after Tony Blair.
Brian Mc Fadden might know why he isn’t very popular at the moment and not being one to speculate he is welcome here and he expecting a few boos and he smiles through it as he tells the crowd should be “Proud of yourselves” in between both of his recent solo hits. Ok…so we have had something for everyone so far…how about a comeback greater than Aled Jones from a Indie band who also have pop susccess…how about Embrace?
This was the real wake up time for the crowd and how Danny McNamara worked the crowd in his tight leather jacket which Liam Gallagher would have been proud of. Chris Martin written ‘Ashes’ opens, followed by the 1997 classic ‘All you good good people’. Danny is aware of the occasion and of their comeback he says ’ considering 65,000 people willing to help out that being invited to play was fucking honour’. He is pleased they accepted as to play as he has “never seen so many people smiling on the same day in my life”. Continuing with ‘Gravity’, ‘Come back to what you know’ and ‘Looking as you are’ they crowned an amazing comeback with this great set which saw Danny go down to the crowd, let them touch him and almost crowd surf. It is not lost on them, the Huddersfield boys admit during their set “the last time we played in Wales, it was a pub!”. Welcome to Cardiff boyz, I think you might be welcome back soon!
The crowd’s excitement is not lost on Fearne who screams “In the name of Darius, can we feel some love in the room?!?’ I had wondered which ex pop music reality talent show losers we were missing and she hit the nail on the head, but alas no Scotsman, just a name check. I think that the crowd had been waiting for this next part…on his own Mr Kelly Jones!
‘Cardiff, How are you? I’m fucking shitting myself’ says local boy Kelly and his honesty wins more friends before playing that song about ‘the local boy in the photograph’. The facial reactions are plain, he is scared, the guitar is slower then the records and the emotion in his gruff singing voice is clear. He has flown in from the south of France without the band to do this, and good on him for using his talent and offering his services on a flying visit designed to entertain the crowd into parting with more money for the fund. Emotional high point of night follows and the nerves quell a little as the crowd hits their biggest and loudest sing along for ‘Just Looking’. Kelly needn’t of sung the chorus, people could barely hear him, he knew it and offered a small smile knowingly. Time for his finale before flying back to the band. ‘Maybe Tomorrow’.
More Rock anyone? Another Welsh legend? How about 3 of them? The Manics! James Dean Bradfield walks on and tells the crowd, who are going mental “You all know why you are here” before introducing ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’. Moshing in the standing crowd began and they played four other songs and said little, understandably. ‘You stole the Sun’ was followed by new song ‘Empty Souls’. This is a ditty which grows on you like moss on a rock at the top of a hill.
Knowing from the set list they had two more, the bet with a friend of mine, a week old was on. Without naming names I was told that MSP would play ‘that song’ as a one –off tribute never to be played again. I said “ I bet they don’t?” and the bet was made of £50 for who ever was wrong to pay in cash in front of the other person to the DEC. The set finished with “If you tolerate this” and “Design for life”. You can guarantee the Manics to always kick ass live and the energy was still there along with Nicky Wire’s mad clothing and feather boa mic. Now, courtesy of the Manics set list choice an additional £50 will be going the DEC via the post office next weekend won’t it, Mr. You know who you are!?!
Ok, time for update, so minus that £50 pledged Edith Bowman tells us we have raised £842,420 so far and it is time for Heather Small, the ex M-People singer. She steps on for set which was spot on and well timed to break up the Rock. She smiles and says “Hello, you look amazing” and I hear some comedian near me shout back “Your not too bad yourself, Trisha!”. Take a look at the photos of her signing the wall and you may agree or disagree as to whether there is some similarity. Regardless, her songs are very popular, uplifting and appreciated. Her voice and band are great even if she says she can’t hear herself properly she sings on time and note perfect. Her 3 song set begins with ‘What have you done today’, ‘Search for the Hero’ and before playing closer ‘One night in Heaven’ she tells the 60,000 strong ensemble that she is proud of us “for showing we are a global family”
Do we have time to fit in a legend before Feeder? I think we do and offering full respect and congratulations to the organisers, Live Aid co-organiser Midge Ure tells Edith and Fearne that ‘This stuff doesn’t go away”. He explains that he put six weeks aside for Band Aid, now 20 years on here he is again trying to help those less fortunate. ‘Buck Rogers’ starts a storming set from Welsh artist number eight of the day. Followed by ‘Just the way I’m feeling’. The rest from moshing provided by Heather Small has paid dividends as the whole pitch is jumping as one during their set, expect during new song ‘Tumble and Fall’ which is a great tune with the best ‘yeh, yeh yeh’ chorus in ages. Closing with ‘All by myself’ Grant Nicholls tries to start a sing along to ‘do do-do do’ but the crowd aren’t having it, maybe the audience is too diverse to know one of every bands songs but it doesn’t matter because people remembered by the time they get to the chorus…nice try boys!
As Fearne is back showing Rock fingers saying “too much Rock for one hand” and I agree, Feeder go back stage and pose for some lovely photos. It is not long before the chairs are out for Liberty X who tell us and the TV audience to “Let’s raise loads of money”. ‘Ain’t Nobody’ starts their set and they are not bad live, offering a mixture of singing and dancing that Charlotte Church tried hard to achieve. I hope she was watching! ‘Get into your heart’ followed by a song that is not a cover, massive hit single ‘Just a little’ which gets the crowd dancing some more.
Finally, nearly all of the crowd are watching the stage and I reckon it is because they ran out of good lager. Good timing too, because Lulu is here playing a criminally short set of two songs, one she wrote as a hit for Vanessa in the 60’s and another which was one of the moments of the day. That’s right, “weeeeeellllllllll…..you know you make me wanna shout!” Dancing in the aisles ensues, dancing on the pitch, the stage and back stage too I imagine. No one can believe she runs off after the second song, such a shame.
Fearne says: “The lady is a legend…I love her”. I agree. Moment of the day for sure follows. The target has been reached with £1,028, 409 made for the DEC appeal from Tsumani Relief Cardiff. This was the crowning achievement that General manager Paul Sergeant was looking for when pricing up the ticketing on the back of a beer mat and setting the ambitious £1 million target! Well Done Paul and all of your lovely team, how about another one in the summer? Your generosity and concept has kick-strated a host of other concerts for relief. Keep your self at the heart of it, it was fantastic. As we learnt at yours on Saturday, this won’t go away! Now for the final two legends:
Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra keep the crowd dancing and their set is the only time that the whole crowd is watching, no one wants a drink, or some food. Everyone wants a dance and to my disappointment the stadium hasn’t warmed up like I thought it might do. We are still dancing in our coats, jumpers, Tsumani relief t-shirts and fleeces, but the atmosphere is brilliant. After 15 minutes or so, a man comes on stage to rousing reception. Heres Eric! Mr Clapton is here and his guitar playing is amazing, being only 22 I have not seen him before and it is a blues boogie-woogie set from Eric, Jools and the Band. It’s amazing that he is so talented on the guitar and he is just a man from Surrey who puts the Americans to shame at the music of their roots. Jools has nearby history too to south London. National treasures and gentleman the both of them for wanting to help raise funds, not to mention icon to a thousand other relief concerts up and down the UK.
Wow, Im proud to be British and quite jealous of not being Welsh for the first time ever, what a day. No one wants it to end and a woman in front of me is refusing to go home without hearing ‘Lelia’, but alas she may be disappointed as it doesn’t come. She cant be upset, there have been 21 artists. Loads of the bands come back for the finale of ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ will live long in the mind. Especially as two of GLC waddle up to Eric Clapton and dance next to him, in the sprit of things he just smiles at the kids and everyone is happy. Tsunami Relief Cardiff was happy to do their bit and happy to have witnessed this spectacular event. We head for the exits happier knowing the final total was £1,248,963 and despite thinking that the Stadium hasn’t warmed up, the cold air hits us before we get outside and its snowing!!!
So Cardiff, you got a stadium that allows park style summer concerts to make it fill like night all day, a go-getting attitude, genuine heart and some lovely caring employees. London got an upside-down bowl for our venue Millennium present and maybe that is why you lead the way in showing the world that Britain cares in 2004/5, its musicians care and we are in this for the long term. Praise you Cardiff, praise you artists, praise the production team. You have lead the way in raising funds and will have instigated many of small scale benefits in your local live music venues throughtout the UK. You should be proud!
NOTES for readers
Unlike other events, all press made at least a £15 donation to attend, artists and organisers did not charge for their services. Please do your bit! As earlier stated if have found this review interesting, informative and/or funny, please make a donation to help the survivors of the worst natural disaster in our lifetime.