FORTY-FIED!

And, among the comedy, Badly Drawn Boy inspires some Mexican waves while U2 strip it down via satellite...

STEREOPHONICS frontman KELLY JONES joined TOM JONES for a version of OTIS REDDING‘s classic ‘HARD TO HANDLE’ as the musical climax of the AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 40th birthday celebrations at WEMBLEY ARENA last night (June 3).

The pair also sang their now customary duet ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ as the finale to the show, which was a resurrection of the Secret Policeman’s Ball shows organised by John Cleese to raise funds for human rights campaigners Amnesty International in the 70s and 80s.

Earlier in the show, which was organised and compered by comedian Eddie Izzard, Tom Jones had performed a solo set, singing ‘Green Green Grass Of Home’ and ‘Flat Broke And Busted’.

The show also featured Badly Drawn Boy, who was introduced by Smashey And Nicey as “the Bachman Turner Overdrive of Bolton.”

After a pause of a few minutes while stage crew set up his equipment, he took the stage in a glittery Adidas T-shirt, commenting: “I really appreciated that long gap there, really calmed my nerves… don’t know why I’m nervous, following this bunch of fucking comedians.”

Introducing his first song, ‘The Shining’, he said it went out as a “kick in the arse to any human beings on this planet who think they’re bigger or better than other human beings, who put themselves above them.”

He then played ‘Let The Sun Shine In’ from the musical ‘Hair’, with reference to the Julie Driscoll and Brian Augur version, describing it as “one of my favourite ever songs,” and saying there is “also a connection to the way a night like tonight should make you feel.” During the song, he spelled out “A.m.n.e.s.t.y.”, in reference to an earlier comment by Izzard that the artists were unable to say the word Amnesty, who were classed as sponsors of the gig, as the event is to be televised, and it is against ITC (Independent Television Commission) rules to name sponsors during programmes.

He finished his set by getting the audience to start a Mexican wave around the arena, causing Izzard to quip: “Fuck, why didn’t I think of a Mexican wave?” when he followed him back on to the stage.

U2 had specially recorded a version of ‘Stay (Faraway, So Close)’ for the event during a gig in Toronto, with The Edge on acoustic guitar and Bono on vocals, which was played on the giant screen at the back of the stage before the interval.

Travis had also made their presence felt by video, sending a birthday message and blowing out a candle on a cake.

Stereophonics reopened the show after the interval, with Kelly Jones declaring that they wouldn’t be attempting to match the comedians’ humour, and singing ‘Step On My Old Size Nines’ and ‘Have A Nice Day’.

The night featured stand-up sets by Phill Jupitus, Jeremy Hardy, Goodness Gracious Me, Richard Blackwood, Simon Day, Jonathan Ross, Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield, Sean Locke, Harry Hill – who took the stage as Morrissey, singing a medley of ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Panic’ and ‘Vicar In A Tutu’ with gladioli aloft – and a sketch by Dom Joly in a parody of ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ as Black Box singing ‘Ride On Time’.

There was also an updated, ad-libbed resurrection of the classic Monty Python “four Yorkshiremen” sketch, with Izzard, Vic Reeves, Harry Enfield and actor Alan Rickman.

Click to the Amnesty International website for more information on current campaigns.