Last night Fran Healy, Gaz Coombes, Frank Turner and Maximo Park turned O2 Shepherd’s Bush into a place of peaceful noise alongside special guests Chas & Dave and Jesse Hughes. All paying beautiful tribute to Nick Alexander and raise money for The Nick Alexander Memorial Fund and The Sweet Stuff Foundation.
How can you even begin to describe what a great night A Peaceful Noise at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire was? It wasn’t just great, it was all emotions on the spectrum – from pure love that filled the room for Nick and all those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks last year, a sense of pride of what the music you love can do to bring people together, anger towards the powers that continue to spread hate, the sadness over what happened in Paris and across the world the last 12 months, but mostly, mostly it was joy that filled the room. A Peaceful Noise did exactly what it set out to do: honor Nick Alexander’s memory.
Throughout the evening, the songs screamed peaceful protest through music all the way. From Fran Healy’s Peace The Fuck Out and All I Want To Do Is Rock to the finishing cover of Neil Young’s Rocking In The Free World – it was clear what the message was. When the terrorists stormed The Bataclan in Paris, the whole world was shook. Especially the music industry – a place where you come for love and peace and a bit of music shouldn’t be a place a of fear or terror. Nick’s sister, Zoe Alexander (founder of A Peaceful Noise), said: “Live music was Nick’s passion and it seemed only fitting that we mark the anniversary of his passing in this way. Everyone who lost their lives that night had a shared love of music and we’re thrilled to bring some of Nick’s favourite artists together for this celebration of unity, peace and rock and roll”.
On 26 November 2015, Frank Turner played London’s Alexandra Palace just days after the attacks and with a newly arranged, slower interpretation of Demons, a song of his latest album Positive Songs For Negative People, people came together and the song became Nick’s song. Tonight Demons is an obvious setlist choice and still it moves everyone to the core. There’s tears, there’s hugs and mostly, there’s singing along so loudly, we’re pretty sure Nick heard us. Frank tells us he met Nick at show 171, now the folk-rock singer nears show 2000. And just like most of the songs tonight, the rest of Frank Turner’s setlist is fitting the occasion with Recovery, Get Better, The Way I Tend To Be and I Still Believe the rooms is rocking out – FTHC-style. A personal favorite from last night’s show, Love, Ire & Song, seems like just the right peaceful revolutionary tune we all need “Oh, but surely just for one day, we could fight and we could win. And if only for a little while, we could insist on the impossible”
Special guests Chas & Dave turned up to party mood in the room with a set of dance-worthy riffs and smiles all around. And the special guest extravaganza didn’t stop there. Just after Fran Turner’s set, Eagles Of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes joined the stage for a few minutes of rock’n’roll, stories about touring with Nick and what felt like redemption.
With Maximo Park seeing the show out, it all felt emotional and powerful. Not only was it a night of great music with some of Nick’s favorite bands, but the finale of everyone, including a surprise appearance by Matt Skiba (Blink-182/Alkaline Trio), singing Neil Young’s Rocking In The Free World was nothing if not inspiring.
I personally didn’t know Nick, but I’m pretty sure he was there last night and enjoyed every single bit of it. A truly beautiful night put together by A Peaceful Noise for a wonderful cause. Thank you Zoe Alexander for putting together this show, we couldn’t have asked for a better night to celebrate unity, peace and rock and roll.
You can still donate to this wonderful cause as well as the Sweet Stuff Foundation:
The Nick Alexander Memorial Trust (www.thenickalexandermemorialtrust.com)
The Nick Alexander Memorial Trust has been set up to actively enhance lives and break down barriers through music by providing musical equipment to community groups.
The Sweet Stuff Foundation (www.sweetstufffoundation.org)
Josh Homme’s Sweet Stuff Foundation is a charity dedicated to giving assistance to career musicians, recording engineers and their families struggling with illness and disability.