Michael Stipe polished my shoes tonight ... at least he gobbed on one of them mid-set. But I'm sure if he'd had a spare minute he'd have grabbed a stage towel and buffed it to a gleaming shine...
REM are the only act absent from the press call that takes place before the doors open on tonight’s Make Trade Fair/Oxfam charity gig at the Hammersmith Apollo – but then as Dermot O’Leary keeps telling the crowds as the night goes on, “Remember that the headliners are still a secret…so all I can say is that we’re looking forward to Errr-Ehhh-Mpphhh later on!”
[l-zone1]The conference line-up presents Daniel and Conor from The Thrills, R&B star Jamelia, Actress turned singer, Minnie Driver and Razorlight’s Carl and Bjorn – along with compere for the night, Dermot O’Leary.
[r-zone2]It can sometimes be nerve-janglingly embarrassing listening to musicians trying to spout politics…but Minnie takes the driving seat, and her experience as an ambassador for the campaign in Cambodia and Thailand sparkles through. Her main message is a very clear one, ‘We owe it to people without voices to speak out on their behalf.’
Jamelia is openly honest about the fact that she is a relative newcomer to the campaign and that she didn’t really know much about it until recently…however when asked about her views on musicians getting involved in politics she is unequivocal – ‘We all have a responsibility to make a difference…we’re more important to many of our fans than any global politician will ever be!’
[l-zone3]Dermot Deasy tempers the views of the others with an important qualification – ‘It’s vital that we don’t just preach at people – they like us for our music, and that kind of thing can switch a lot of people off. We have to let people know what we stand for though, and then let them make up their own minds about whether to follow us.’
[r-zone4]Razorlight’s Carl Dalemo steps into the pulpit though when he answers a direct question about what he believes people should stand up against, ‘We shouldn’t stand for violence in any form,’ is his immediate retort, ‘violence that takes the shape of a boss raping his secretary or a set of unjust trade sanctions, violence from a school bully, or violence born out of bigoted hatred. We have to stand up and be counted to try and rid the world of the things that make people’s lives unbearable.’
[l-zone5]Tonight’s show is about Fairtrade…it’s about the message that what we buy can either help to stamp out violence – or it can help to proliferate it. Cheap goods are often the result of a kind of economic violence, with workers around the world subjugated by the greed of the big corporations. When we buy things without thinking, just because they are a few pence cheaper then we are often adding to the problem, but when we read the label and make a decision to buy from ethical producers then the world swings back a little towards a naturally just balance.
Find out more about the campaign at www.maketradefair.com, or go and buy something now that will help the cause – how about some music for your MP3 player from www.bignoisemusic.com? Every pound you spend there will put 10p into the Oxfam kitty, and that means more work can be done to support poor workers around the globe to fight out from beneath oppressive economic conditions that nobody should have to suffer.