Charity begins at home

Ash played a free concert at The Waterfront, Belfast, on Tuesday to support John Hume and David Trimble's effort to secure a "Yes" vote today on the Good Friday Peace Agreement. The band said: "We were born during the Troubles and don't want to see outworn attitudes holding our country in the past." Both British and Irish political parties gave away free tickets to the event. Northern Ireland's Blank magazine has pointed out that it is rare for Belfast to be so popular among gigging artists. There are two more concerts planned around the referendum: the Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam-supported/Elton John-organised concert at Stormont parliament buildings on 27 May, and the just-announced "Keep Ulster Bratish" festival. The Bratish festival will present an alternative concert, organised by Blank magazine. Co-editor Chris Murray said: "Getting a bunch of middle-aged people with 2.4 children and semi-detached houses to watch Elton John is not going to solve anything. We wanted to point out that even when the cameras were being pointed elsewhere, young people in Northern Ireland were getting together every weekend."

Universe suffering

The best-laid plans have been spoken too soon, as The Heavyweight Double Header at Brixton Academy on Sunday 24 May has been cancelled. This was to present many of the artists due to play at Universe. Paul Shurey, creator of Universe and Tribal Gathering, has resigned from Universe to concentrate on future Tribal Gathering events. A spokesperson for Universe '98 and Tribal Gathering said: "The financial provisions of the settlement with the Mean Fiddler and a lack of available time will almost certainly prohibit United States of Mind from staging a UK Tribal Gathering this summer. The Mean Fiddler Organisation have done everything within their considerable power to extinguish the Tribal spirit - and almost succeeded in doing so. Fortunately Tribal Gathering has been through numerous battles in the past and learnt to survive through adversity and come bouncing back."

Neighbours from hell?

They have mastered the art of bitter-sweet music, now The Verve (lead singer Richard Ashcroft, pictured) are about to add the bitter element to a happy wedding day. So say a couple who are getting hitched at the Haigh Hall venue in Wigan, a day before 18,000 people descend for The Verve's home-town concert. Aside from soundchecks, trailers and fans, the couple stress that they don't even like The Verve ...

Spring cleaning

On the verge of releasing an album, 60Ft Dolls have been dropped by Indolent/BMG Records, due to "musical differences with the new management at BMG", say the band. They hope to find a new label to release the Joya Magica album. Dannii Minogue and Toaster have also been dropped by Creation and WEA respectively.