O2 Forum, London
November 22, 2015
It’s just over a week since Islamic State extremists brutally slaughtered 130 people in the Paris attacks, 89 of whom were gunned down at an Eagles Of Death Metal gig at Le Bataclan concert hall. In the grand tradition of the music world uniting to raise funds and awareness, tonight’s show is being held in aid of the refugees who were turfed out of war torn Syria, but there’s no escaping last week’s events in the French capital. Tonight’s performers are from different genres, but all express sadness for those attacks and hope for the future.
“I know these are dark and terrible times, but it’s good you came out tonight,” vitriolic wordsmith Kate Tempest addresses the crowd during her defiant 15 minute set. Between poetic rants about terrorists, bombs, dead children, dodgy bankers and “snorting coke off prostitutes with prosthetic tits”, she urges those in attendance to “make a contribution” and get down there [to the border] and drag some refugees out the water”. She barely pauses for breath, but her flow is eventually broken by one fan, clearly unimpressed, down the front. “Mate, I know this is fucking hardcore, but just bare with me.”
Peace have taken a break from writing new material for their third album, and they’ve used some of that time to pen a new track just for tonight. Heartfelt newbie ‘Kindness Is The New Rock’n’Roll’ is drenched in distorted guitars and thudding drum licks, and sits nicely between anthemic bangers from their 2013 debut ‘In Love’ (‘Wraith’, ‘Lovesick’) and this year’s eclectic follow-up ‘Happy People’ (‘Lost On Me’, ‘Gen Strange’). “It’s wonderful that you came out on a Sunday. It’s for a good cause so thanks to you all,” says frontman Harry Koisser, and soon the band finish their turn with the swaggering assault of ‘World Pleasure’.
“When things are sad, we forget about things that are positive like freedom,” headliner Paloma Faith, dressed in a sparkly red, gold and blue outfit, tells the crowd ahead of the aptly-titled track ‘Freedom’. She struts about the stage, putting in a powerful performance that veers from gospel (‘Can’t Rely On You’) to jazz (Billie Holiday cover ‘God Bless The Child’) to club bangers, including her disco-flecked Sigma collaboration ‘Changing’.
During her set, the chatty singer also finds time to praise Peace’s new song and Mercury Music Prize winner Benjamin Clementine: “I thought he was breathtaking and really special. He represents inner peace and how beautiful people can be. We should look into that.” As the night reaches an end, Faith takes a moment to thank the organisers of the gig, bolstering the sense of hope that the evening’s proceedings have provoked. “I’d like to thank Help Refugees for doing this,” she says. “Although we’ve seen sadness in recent events, people are going and doing amazing things like this.” Tonight may not solve the plight of the many thousands of refugees still trying to find a new home in Europe, but the money and awareness raised should go at least a little way to helping.