Wednesday, 27 October 2010


It pays to be friends with those in high places, and in this case, that friend is an intern and that high place is Comic Relief! Last week, offered two free tickets to a charity gig in Camden, Hayley kindly invited me along. Having slaved away over spreadsheets at work for seven hours straight, disinterested in the charitable cause, we were both overly excited at the prospect of mingling with minor-celebs and letting our hair down to the soothing sounds of Alice Russell, Annie Lennox and the Tings Tings.

Arriving at Camden’s Roundhouse, we were greeted by the red carpet, the flashing of lights and the hubbub of eagerly awaiting crowds. As our tickets were ‘guest tickets’ with no specific name or price, being the opportunists that we are, a.k.a. dreamers, we decided to try our luck at surreptitiously sweet-talking our way into the VIP lounge with the likes of Big Brother winner, Josie. Presented with our tickets, blank as a canvas, we made our way to the VIP entrance. Attempting to look of somewhat importance, Hayley casually (in hindsight, embarrassingly) swinging her Comic Relief staff-pass around her neck, the blagging began. Asking for this over-sight to be put right, willing to let such a mistake graciously go, we weren’t quite sent so swiftly on our way to VIP as we had hoped. Having spoken to numerous, confused-looking staff, it became clear we had nothing but wasted 15 minutes of our night on a wild goose chase. Politely told that the Comic Relief guests were not permitted into VIP, we were simply ushered along with the rest of the rabble. Due to being so ill prepared for the evening, it was likely that our mild resemblance to tramps negatively implemented our attempts. Compared to those dolled up to the nines, rightly cruising into VIP having paid £120 to do so, there’s no denying we were fighting a losing battle.

Having been brought careering back down to earth, we joined the masses in the Roundhouse’s intimate space. Drink in hand; beginning to unwind, we were graced by a friendly and cheerful Edith Bowman, looking as beautiful and vibrant as ever on stage as she introduced the very significance of Voice Storm. And so the night began…

For the first time that night I was awoken to the importance of the evening, inspired by the cause, Body & Soul. Body & Soul is a unique charity supporting children, teenagers and families living with, or closely affected by HIV. Their purpose is to simply make HIV, positive, disturbed by the undeserving stigma attached to the virus in the UK. What’s more, the night was particularly tailored around celebrating the life and brilliance of Dame Anita Roddick: founder of the environmentally-friendly breakthrough store, The Body Shop; founding patron of Body & Soul and an all-round inspiration to the charitable world. Fore grounded by Roddick, the night celebrated strong and inspirational women, illustrated through a fantastic line-up of incredible female performers: Lauren Pritchard, Mel C, Alice Russell, Annie Lennox and the Ting Tings.

Kicking off with the bright, beautiful and brilliant Lauren Pritchard, I was instantly overwhelmed by emotion as the beauty and soul of the music swept the encouragingly bustling room. It was at that point that I was grateful to have been so harshly rejected from the stuffy and clinical seats of VIP, instead moved by the intimacy of the atmosphere wielding the standing crowds. The night was no longer about getting our hands on a goody bag bursting with sponsors: Kettle Chips, Jelly Babies and Eat Natural, or bumping into the fifteen minute famed likes of B.B’s Josie. Instead, the night swiftly became entirely about the cause. The music chosen by each and every act was not only powerfully performed and full of soul, but every word exceptionally apt to the event’s engaging ethos. As Mel C performed the Bryan Adams classic, When You’re Gone, accompanied on the guitar by James Walsh, I couldn’t help but feel enchanted by the words, reflecting on the great loss of Anita Roddick and the incredible work of Body & Soul.

Despite having entered the event free of charge, something I initially felt somewhat smug about, I left with more than simply the experience of a great night. Instead, I left with an overwhelming sense of why we were there and what it was all really about. Awoken to a new perspective, I left enlightened.

It is the creativity and inspirational attitude behind events such as Voice Storm that are truly at the heart of implementing change. What’s more, recognised by The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft, it is music that is essentially power. So in the words of Anita Roddick, “This is no damned dress rehearsal! You’ve got one life, so just lead it. And try to be remarkable”.

Rose Brownlow

No comments:

Post a Comment