(Photo Creds to taylorxuphotos on tumblr)
Words by Ben Bowman.
You don’t even have to look at the facts to realise that we are living amongst the biggest refugee crisis of our generation. The UN has said that over 63 million people in this world are seeking refuge or asylum somewhere, which is the biggest problem we have faced since World War Two, which is exactly the reason Ellie Rowsell and co decided to collaborate alongside the Help Refugees charity to raise money and awareness for this ongoing situation.
Bands 4 Refugees initially started as one performance at Kamio in London on Monday the 5th of December, but given the hype surrounding the line-up, two Sunday shows were inevitably added. All of the artists performing were to perform cover tracks which further provoked intrigue amongst those eager to get tickets. I attended the matinee performance on Sunday afternoon, which was 14+ as opposed to the other two shows being 18+ only, but the venue seemed to be full of 18 year olds who couldn’t get tickets for the initial show. An exciting line-up mixed along with such a radiant atmosphere meant it was always going to be an enjoyable show. There was so much positivity amongst the crowd which was heightened when a representative from Help Refugees took to the stage to make an empowering speech, which really made you feel as if you could make a difference. Help Refugees only formed last year and is now the biggest grassroots charity in Europe, which was profoundly inspiring to learn.
Frederick Macpherson of Spector kicked off the music with a cover of Robbie Williams’ Feel which went down inevitably well. The Spector frontman acted as somewhat of a host for the evening as when he wasn’t performing he was introducing the upcoming acts. Izzy Bee of Black Honey joined Ellie Rowsell for a rendition of Cyndi Lauper classic Girls Just Want To Have Fun, with all the typical brooding yet bewitching attitude associated with the pair. This duet was arguably overshadowed by a Superfood and Kanye West fusion as they took on Estelle’s American Boy, which sparked a joyful reaction from the crowd.
Contributions followed from Bloody Knees, DreamWife and The Magic Gang both before and after very special guest described by Macpherson as one of the most pivotal names in indie rock over the last decade, Justin Young from The Vaccines took to the stage to cover Roy Orbison’s You Got It. It was great to see Justin back in such prolific form as he took to the stage in typically suave fashion donned in sunglasses with phone in hand as a prompt for his lyrics. Isaac Holman from Slaves then gave Blossoms a run for their money on who could do the best cover of You’re Gorgeous by Babybird, a far more stripped back effort from Isaac than you would typically associate with his sound.
The show was rounded off with Harrison Koisser from Peace joined by his brother Sam and drummer Dom producing an excellent cover of The Rolling Stones classic Gimme Shelter alongside members of Wolf Alice and others. The members of Birmingham Outfit then played their part in the finale in which an ensemble of most acts took to the stage to perform George Michael’s Freedom. It sparked a sense of collective good and empowerment and seemed the perfect way to round of a brilliant afternoon.
Alongside the music, the atmosphere concentrated in the venue was so positive throughout, with members of all of the bands walking in and out of the crowd which enabled me to meet three cult heroes of the alternative scene over the last few years, Harrison Kossier, Isaac Holman and Justin Young. All were keen to engage and stop for photos and even though my girlfriend’s phone ran out of space, Young was happy to wait and chat while she anxiously cleared her library.
Bands 4 Refugees was a brilliantly organised and an executed event that made people feel as if they could make a change, these musicians are normal people too and the encouragement and sense of empowerment they made everyone feel deserves the utmost recognition.
Written by Ben Bowman, you can follow him on twitter here.