Review of the ‘Make Trade Fair’ Concert, at Hammersmith Apollo, on Sept 14th 2004.
We missed Razorlight, due to accidentally taking a wrong turn onto the glorified carpark known as Shepherd’s Bush Road. However, the last two notes of their last song sounded great and the audience were appropriately buzzed when we walked in. Judging by atmosphere alone, they played a blinder.
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Birmingham singer, Jamelia, opened with a stunning rendition of ‘Thank You’, which even had those who’d never heard of her bopping along. The song itself is thematically reminiscent of Alanis Morrisette’s ‘Thank You’, in that it name-checks the moments of darkness in her life and thanks them for making her strong. Already interested, the audience crawled into the palm of Jamelia’s hand after she said, ‘I know you’re not here to see me, but please dance anyway.’ So we did.
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She launched into ‘Taxi’ and a cover of Limp Bizkit’s ‘Numb’, which worked, while also thanking Coldplay’s Chris Martin for his collaboration in writing, ‘See It In a Boy’s Eyes’. There were other tunes, but I didn’t catch what they were. I was one of those who’d never heard of her before this, but I’ll add her to the ‘interested’ pile.
To be fair, when Minnie Driver was announced, we all expected the actress to deliver a speech upon the big topic of the day – Fair Trade. When she turned up with musicians, I (and I suspect the rest of the audience) thought, ‘Oh crap! That means REM is even further away’, but settled in anyway to listen to her sing. She’s got a good voice… the best that can be said about the songs is that they are uniformly bland. I can’t remember a single instance of even bobbing my head. I can’t remember a single note or lyric.
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The audience got restless. Started talking amongst ourselves. I was guilty too. I asked my friend if Minnie Driver is a good actress? Apparently she is. That’s reassuring. It reached the point of being excruciating – Minnie knew and was just there getting it over with so she could move on. Finally some empathy with the crowd. I found myself highly embarrassed for her, but she left with a curt ‘thank you’. I wish I could come up with better words than ‘average’, ‘bland’ and ‘nothingness’, but I understand that her films are good…
The Thrills sounded great. The briefest glimpse I got of the lead singer revealed a Georgie Best in his heyday hair-do and facial hair, over a satin lounge jacket; I didn’t glimpse everyone else. I do know that Peter Buck (from REM) turned up on mandolin at one point, and I remember a really energetic song about Corey Haim.
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The main problem with the Thrills was the 6ft 4″, built like a brick shithouse bloke who thought it was a good idea to push his way right in front of me. I’m 5ft 3″ and he wasn’t see-through. Unfortunately then, I spent almost the entirety of the Thrills set trying to get into a position to see; before giving up and invoking Morrighan on the bloke. After three hours without a cigarette, in a crowded Hammersmith Odeon, even the most benign witch will forget all about ‘an’ it harm none’ and just curse the fucker, using a hair off the back of his t-shirt.
This apparently worked because he moved well enough for me to see
He was hilarious! I’ve never heard of him either, but I understand he’s in ‘The Office’ which I really should watch. He spent 15 minutes delivering a stand up routine being highly irreverent of charities and the raising money therefore. We all recognized ourselves in those jokes – it was a charity fund-raising event – and I didn’t see anyone not laughing at themselves.
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The invocation of Morrighan worked even better when it came to seeing REM. In the space between the lights going down and coming back up again, every single person taller than me had mysteriously disappeared from the five rows in front of me. I had a perfect view of Georgia’s finest, as they opened with ‘Losing My Religion’, which everyone knew and accordingly lifted the roof as a fine raucous choir.
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Michael Stipe announced that their next single will be ‘The Boy in the Well’, which was a beautiful song. Though unfamiliar, it became one of the highlights of my night, with its refrain:
‘They’re asking me to be what I could never be
And my good friends are
Offering things I’ve never dreamed
**Unintelligable word** I’d like for once for them
To take me on.’
REM fans received a further treat next with the rarely played ‘Walk Unafraid’, from the album ‘Up'; before ‘Leaving New York’, as the second of two plugs for the new album, ‘Around the Sun’.
‘Man on the Moon’ had everyone bouncing away, punctuated with cries from the tiny of ‘OW! That’s my head you twat!’ I personally learned to syncronize my bouncing with the huge bloke next to me and therefore only received a bruised shoulder and a solitary slap in the face by his hand. All people over 5ft 5″ should be banned from the front of concerts, IMHO. Halfway through a bounce of ‘If you believe they put a man on the moon, oooooha oooooooooha’ the voice of Stipe changed… drastically. Once we’d stopped bouncing for the verse, it was revealed that this was because surprise guest, Chris Martin, had appeared on stage and taken over the lead vocals. Everyone cheered. We love Chris in the Fair Trade Campaigning World.
An encore provided the third song off the new album, ‘I Want It to be Wrong’ – complete with Michael covering his eyes, as if in tears. A political ballad, one lyric sticks out, ‘We could ask the allies, but they all look a little peeved…’ This was the first time this song had been played live, and Michael had the lyrics on a page in front of him. A song which questions the Bush Administration and worries about how America is being viewed by the rest of the world.
Finally, we all sang our heads off and danced like mad bints to ‘It’s been a Bad Day’, before they were gone and not coming back. We wanted more. We didn’t get it. After taking a very long time to arrive on stage in the first place (soundcheck was nearly an hour!), they wowed up and left too soon.
Losing My Religion
Boy in the Well
Leaving New York
Man on the Moon (with Chris Martin halfway through)
I Want It To Be Wrong