Last Saturday in west London saw a whole host of top musical acts take to the stage in protest at the looming war in Iraq. Shepherds Bush Empire gave its stage to Fran Healey, Chris Martin and Paul Weller amongst others, all in aid of the Stop The War Coalition; the charity set up to fight the unwanted conflict and bring to justice those who it calls ‘war criminals’.
With ‘The Final Countdown’ now underway, One Big No was always taking place under the shadow of impending war, but it’s as much what it stands for as what it achieves that is so important to our generation. Whether you believe the war should go ahead or not, the simple fact that this kind of event is ‘legal’ in Britain is something for which we should be thankful. Granted, it’s a basic human right to free speech, but it’s one which many (including those in Iraq [and America -Ed]), do not presently have.
Making reference to the fact that America doesn’t complain about the nuclear weapons of China, Korea, Russia et al, comedian Mark Thomas tells us we should call RAF Fairfood on 01285 714000 and tell the Americans to get out of our country. His fifteen minute warm up set is very well received, probably the most rocking part of the evening. Interspersed with various acoustic performances come recorded messages by Yoko Ono and Chris Cornell and a variety of speeches from the like of George Galloway MP and the head of the Stop The War Coalition.
A Faithless acoustic set commences musical proceedings, sweetly chilled, a bit like aural weed. Evan Dando follows, with a Neil Young cover, along with performances by Beth Orton, and former Boyzone singer, Ronan Keating. Video messages also came from Yoko Ono, Elton John, and Michael Moore, the comedian who directs the new System Of A Down video, ‘Boom!’ which was shown twice on the screens.
The star of the show was, predictably, Chris Martin, who played a three song solo piano set, including ‘Yellow’ and ‘In My Place’ before a duet with Ian McCulloch, singer from Echo And The Bunnymen, covering the Velvet Underground's classic ‘Walk On The Wild Side’.
Paul Weller brought out a host of Jam classics, including ‘That’s Entertainment’ and ‘Back In The Fire’ which he played with Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Craddock, alongside ‘Wild Wood’. Travis songwriter, Fran Healey concluded the evening with an emotional performance of new song ‘The Beautiful Occupation’ and ‘Turn’. Including the line ‘Don’t need an invitation/To drop it upon a nation’, the new song was written last October, baring a strong significance to current events.
Travis are due to feature on the second War Child album, which will be released soon, featuring Coldplay, George Michael, David Bowie and Beth Orton. This Thursday (20th March) sees another event in aid of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) at Fabric in London. It will feature a live performance from Ian Brown and UNKLE.
Speaking to Virtual Festivals, Emily Eavis who organised One Big No and who co-organises the Glastonbury Festivals, commented, ‘It was fantastically successful evening with a diverse range of artists. The feeling of unity everyone left with was something quite unique. There was an incredible feeling of respect and humility between the artists and crowd, and the whole evening was really unlike anything else I’ve ever been involved with.’ Emily, daughter of Glastonbury founder and owner Michael Eavis, also has a strong involvement with Oxfam.
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