Japan Disaster Benefit, Brixton Academy, London
Tuesday 05 April 2011
Boasting a line-up more suited to the Glastonbury main stage than the Brixton Academy, Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller and Primal Scream were among the cream of British rock acts who performed a one-off gig in aid of relief efforts for victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Gallagher, the event's organiser, headlined the show with his new band, Beady Eye, and the five-hour concert also included sets from Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics, Richard Ashcroft and The Coral.
Ambitions to promote new material were put aside as all bands played crowd-pleasers to the capacity 5,000 crowd. Paul Weller's set featured several Jam songs, with old favourites such as "The Eton Rifles" mixed with the title track of his latest album, Wake Up the Nation.
Several of the bands played Beatles covers as those songs still have massive appeal in Japan. The Coral, who kicked off the show, found a particularly warm reception for their cover of "Ticket to Ride". Surprisingly, the only sombre moment came during singer-songwriter Richard Ashcroft's set as he performed The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony".
Japan was mentioned relatively infrequently and none of the harrowing images from Japan that prompted Gallagher to gather his band of friends together were shown. This gave the gig a sense of detachment from the harsh realities facing people in Japan now.
The £150,000 raised here will go towards providing aid and healthcare for those affected by the disaster – and the feeling of goodwill in the crowd was noticeable, although that didn't stop grumblings among some fans that Gallagher's new band are not yet heavyweight enough to warrant a headline slot among an A-list of British rockers. These grumblings were soon quashed in characteristic Gallagher style, however, as numbers such as "Bring the Light" and "Kill for a Dream" showed the band's mettle. Soaring guitar riffs and bashing drums underlined Gallagher's infamous drawl, much to the delight of the crowd, who had clearly saved their biggest cheers for the last act.
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