Of course, it would be lovely if there was no need for the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival. This free shindig in Victoria Park echoes the legendary 1978 Rock Against Racism bash that saw 80,000 people protesting against the National Front as The Clash and others roared. The BNP is still a genuine threat in the UK and as such we still need people like Babyshambles’ Drew McConnell, who pretty much sums things up by repeatedly screeching, “Fuck the BNP!” at the top of his voice. He’s fronting Helsinki, an indie super-group that includes the likes of Reverend And The Makers’ Jon McClure, ex-Arctic Monkey Andy Nicholson, Fionn Regan and The Noisettes’ Jamie Morrison. The ska-driven sunshine of Babyshambles’ ‘I Wish’ (with fellow ’Shambler Mik Whitnall on guitar and vocals) is a treat, but it’s their poignant – and raucous – cover of The Clash’s ‘White Riot’, with ex-Sham 69 singer Jimmy Pursey on throat-ripping vocals, that raises the biggest cheers from the crowd.
The View’s Kyle Falconer and Kieren Webster then bound on for a headlong rush through ‘Same Jeans’, which amounts to an encore for them. Earlier in the day, The View had played a well-received set of bouncy indie scuzz, debuting five new songs. We couldn’t quite pick out the next ‘Superstar Tradesman’, but the best of the bunch has Kieren jumping unexpectedly to the front to yelp a vocal over Kyle’s melody-pinning backing gurgle, indicating the band have found another layer.
Hard-Fi are up soon after. OK, their indie-pop hits aren’t exactly going to fry any brains but today is a day for singalongs, and it’s hard not to respond to ‘Cash Machine’ and ‘Living For The Weekend’ when everyone is in such lofty spirits. Then, before the 6pm curfew, there’s time for The Good, The Bad & The Queen, who have reformed (anyone know they’d split?!) especially for the carnival. It’s ex-Clash man Paul Simonon’s moment really, and he plucks and rubs his bass with suitable vigour. While on any other day we’d be heading for the pear cider pumps during an overcooked 10-minute rendition of The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ guest-starring Jerry Dammers, it’s impossible not to be swept up in the goodwill. Both as a show of unity and as a show in itself, the day has been a huge success. Oh, and in the words of Drew McConnell, fuck the BNP.