The benefit concert can often be a strange experience as it is both a deception whilst at the same time, it is an effort to try and use different art forms to go about trying to rectify the world’s problems. It’s a deception in that no-one present here tonight has come in support of the cause, noble as it may be. They are here for the music and to have a good time. However, whilst they are here, people might as well do their bit to try and help the lives of others.
The atmosphere in the Proud Galleries is a lot less fraught and intense than regular concerts but that is due to the general bonhomie brought about through the good will of the night. The charity for which the night is raising money is Peace One Day, an organisation that delivers vaccines and provides medical relief in areas of conflict. Following the large success of the previous year, the event returns featuring a line-up of musicians of different styles.
The first band makes for an awkward introduction to the night, dressed as they are with pairs of tights on their heads. Is their headware an indication that they here to menace, to threaten, to inspire some sense of terror? At a charity gig? Surely not. Their music, a sort of ersatz thrash, goes some way to spiking these possible intentions as does the revelation that the article on the lead singer’s head is nothing more than a leopard-spotted stocking. They introduce one song as being about sex although it sounds exactly the same as all their other songs except for some groaning that is cooed into the microphone.
Things pick up with the second act of the evening, Akayzia whose name is derived from the Christian name of the lead singer, Akayzia Parker. She is possessed with a deep, smooth and soulful voice and is perfectly suited to the honeyed mix of folk and blues. The music is pleasant enough although it ambles on without there being much distinction between songs. The one exception to this is Hysteria, seemingly the only song with minor chords present. During this, Parker sways around the microphone and snaps her hips to convey the angst that lies at the heart of the song.
Following Parker is I Blame Coco, the group fronted by Coco Sumner who is the daughter of Sting. Her father’s influence is immediately flagged in the ska and reggae feel to the music. There is also something of her father’s voice in Coco’s own singing as well as that of Ari Up, the lead singer of the Slits. However, Sumner has created something individual for herself and shows an ability to be rise above the expectations one might have for the offspring of a famous musician. At the end of her set, she extols the virtues of the cause that is tonight’s focus. A wild cheer goes up from the crowd but then quickly dies away, showing once again where people’s real interest lies.
Peace One Day took place at:
Proud Galleries Camden
The Horse Hospital
Chalk Farm Road
Tel: 020 7424 9778