Babyshambles assemble indie supergroup Rock Against Racism gig

However ethal Bizzle and Wiley miss out on 30th brithday show

Lethal Bizzle and Wiley both failed to appear at last night’s (July 19) Rock Against Racism birthday gig at Hackney Empire.

Bizzle reportedly fell ill at the last minute, while Wiley was simply nowhere to be seen, with even close friends of the star bemused by his disappearance.

Wiley was replaced by grime artist Manga.

Specials legend Jerry Dammers also disappointed fans with his absence, blaming an over-running rehearsal.

But the concert, staged to celebrate 30 years since the original Rock Against Racism campaign, was a huge success with the audience despite the no-shows.

BabyshamblesDrew McConnell brought together an indie supergroup for the occasion, including Ali Love, The View’s Peter Reilly, Keiran Webster and Kyle Falconer and Seb Rochford.

The Tom Robinson Band with punk icon TV Smith (The Adverts) had everyone on their feet despite Robinson’s initial “nerves”, and the legendary Misty In Roots, stars of the original RAR concert in East London’s Victoria Park 30 years ago, headlined the gig.

Tom Robinson, who also appeared in the first concert alongside The Clash and X Ray Spex, spoke to NME about how it feels to be involved in another RAR gig: “All political pop is preaching to the converted, but it’s the audience, not the musicians, who can stop racism, and did stop the Nationak Front all those years ago.

“But like with Live Aid and Live 8, people mutter about fading careers being propped up, exploiting the cause. Motives can never be pure, but you have to take these concerts on face value – on the results.

“The first concert made a huge difference – it’s easy to look back and see the chain of events that led to the NF fading, but in the 1970s you felt that anything could have happened – what with Eric Clapton casually saying he supported Enoch Powell, orDavid Bowie saying we would benefit from a fascist dictatorship, even as a joke…it was a scary time to be around. RAR certainly played its part in changing things.”

Geordie indie-ska band The Toy Guns, who valiantly kicked off the night’s proceedings, told NME.COM: “It’s an honour to be here, and an honour to be able to be mentioned in the same breath as bands such as The Clash, who were at the original RAR gig.”

However they were among the many who were disappointed by Jerry Dammers’ failure to turn up, because he inspired them to write their latest single, ‘Nice One, Jerry’, which will be released this September.

Singer Dan Greener explained: “At the RAR press conference earlier this year, Dammers was saying how musicians aren’t always the best speakers, but if they have something to say they should write a song about it.

“That inspired our new single, but we didn’t want it to have an obvious heavy title. So we called it ‘Nice One, Jerry’. We were hoping to ask him to be in the video tonight.”