The eight 18- to 25-year-olds have been given three slots on the show, the climax of the National Music Festival, by the Prince's Trust, which is closely involved in organising the concert. Yet they have never played a major gig before.
Putting them on such a superstar bill is something a gamble by trust officials, who are keen to increase awareness of their rock school for the unemployed, and may test the patience of the mass audience. The trust runs week-long rock music courses for long-term unemployed young people. Even during that short period, the courses are as much concerned with increasing confidence, self-esteem and team- building skills as with musical ability. The Prince's Trust, which is one of the charities to benefit financially from the Hyde Park concert, is unabashed about giving the unemployed youngsters three premium slots. Arwyn Thomas, director of the Prince's Trust-Action, said: "The trust's training initiatives are all geared to helping young people reach their full potential. This is achieved by helping participants to develop some of the skills they need and, more importantly, the self-belief required to succeed. The fact that these young people have the confidence to perform in front of 150,000 people, as well as the talent to carry it off, is testament to the value of these training courses."
Steve Balsamo, lead singer of the Prince's Trust band, said: "Having the opportunity to perform on the same stage as Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and Bob Dylan is beyond our wildest dreams."
The results of a Gallup poll of 1,377 adults, commissioned by the concert's sponsors, Mastercard, were released yesterday. They showed that almost half of the under-24s interviewed think that the best British music was recorded before they were born; and more than 90 per cent think that today's pop stars should behave more responsibly.
Asked which decade produced the best British music, 45 per cent said it was the era of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The figure, not surprisingly, rises sharply to 70 per cent among those actually born in the Sixties.
The most respected rock musician cited by all age-groups is the former Beatle Paul McCartney, and the least-respected is the Rolling Stone Keith Richards.