VO5 NME Awards 2017: Relive what happened the first time Bands 4 Refugees got together

Some of the UK's best talent helped raise awareness for the refugee crisis with cheesy covers and lots of spirit

Bands 4 Refugees will reunite at the VO5 NME Awards 2017. The collective, which will feature Charli XCX, Pixie Geldof and members of Peace, Slaves, Years & Years, Circa Waves, Swim Deep and Black Honey, formed in late 2016 in conjunction with charity Help Refugees. They’ll join Bastille, Dua Lipa, Wiley and Godlike Geniuses Pet Shop Boys in entertaining some of music’s finest at the most rock’n’roll night of the year.

If it’s anything like their first performances, their performance will be a ton of fun. The group took over east London venue Kamio last December for three special performances, featuring covers of everything from Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’ to Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’. Get ready for the reunion by reliving what went down first time round below.

The VO5 NME Awards 2017 takes place on February 15 at London’s O2 Academy Brixton. You can be at the ceremony to watch all of the performances and rub shoulders with your favourite artists by grabbing the last remaining tickets here. Can’t make it? Then make sure you tune into the Facebook Live stream on NME’s official Facebook page. During Bands4Refugees’ performance details of how to donate to Help Refugees will be shown on screen – or you can text REFU to 70700 to give £5.


Over two days in December, a host of Britain’s best bands joined forces to raise awareness and money to aid the ongoing refugee crisis. Instigated by Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell and Theo Ellis, Swim Deep’s Austin Williams and their friend Hannah Abel-Hirsch, Bands4Refugees saw the likes of Peace, Bloody Knees, Black Honey, The Vaccines and more covering some unlikely classics as they took over London’s Kamio.


After contributing a cover of Robbie William’s ‘Feel’, Spector’s Fred Macpherson acted as compere for the shows, savagely roasting each guest as they walked on stage.


Black Honey’s Izzy Phillips helped kick things off at all three shows with a cover of The Cardigans’ ‘My Favourite Game’.



She also teamed up with Ellie on a version of Cyndi Lauper’s hit ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. On Monday night, the pair were also joined by Years & Years’ Olly Alexander for the track.


You probably wouldn’t have expected Cambridge punks Bloody Knees to have gone full boyband, but singer Bradley Griffiths and bassist Sam Conway did just that with their cover of 5ive’s ‘Keep On Movin”.


Dressed in matching outfits, the duo even pulled out some synchronised dance moves and basically stole the show.


Anyone who’s heard Wolf Alice do ‘You’re A Germ’ live knows Ellie can scream with the best of them, but her incredible version of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ showed a new side to her vocal range. Turns out she’s actually pretty good at rapping too.



Before the third and final show of the series, the singer told NME she’d wanted to organise something to help after seeing the lack of compassion shown to refugees and the spread of misinformation online and in the media.

Harry Koisser

Harry Koisser

Peace’s Harry Koisser unleashed his inner rock god with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’.


During the track, he was backed up by his brother and bandmate Sam on bass, with backing vocals from Ellie.


Rakel Mjoll from Dream Wife took things in a more country direction with her rendition of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’.



Austin and Superfood’s Ryan Malcolm teamed up for ‘American Boy’, on which Ryan delivered a flawless Yeezy flow.


The big finale was led by Superfood’s Dom Ganderton and a cover of George Michael’s ‘Freedom’. “Even if you don’t know this song, you’ve got to dance cos it’s a banger and it’s the last one,” he told the Monday night crowd.


Elsewhere in the Various Legends Collective, The Magic Gang’s Jakc Kaye and Kristian Smith, The Vaccines’ Justin Young and Slaves’ Isaac Holman also helped make the three shows a resounding success. Even though the Bands4Refugees events are over, you can still donate to Help Refugees and find out more about the crisis on their website.

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Bands 4 Refugees

You can also text REFU to 70700 to give £5 to the charity.