As Ukrainian President, Zelenskyy said at the Grammy’s last night “We are fighting Russia, which brings terrible silence with its bombs. Dead silence. Fill your music with silence. Fill it out today to sing our story.”
A packed out Kenton theatre on Thursday night last week certainly filled the space with outstanding music and performances for the Concert for Ukraine which before the curtains had gone up had raised a staggering £10,000.
The concert was organised by local singer-songwriter, Rebecca Poole (Purdy) who had invited a medley of musicians, young and old to perform. She opened the show with a song she had written at the start of lockdown I Worry for the World.
Purdy then welcomed Mo Evans to the stage who got a last minute call up that day to play some of his own songs as James Carrington had caught Covid. Playing the piano, Mo’s lyrics touched the audience from the start. Jazz Morley followed who gave an emotional performance particularly with her own song, Disconnected about her brother going to Afghanistan. Growing in confidence and performance, Gillotts student 14 year old, Felix Richardson was next up who sang George Michael’s Heal the Pain. Jessie Smith then opened his set playing the piano and premiered his new excellent new song Marathon. He then joined his bandmates The Quotes to sing I Think I’m Falling for You with the audience joining in the chorus and TMO which Jessie dedicated to the “people of Ukraine.” Bandmate Liam Barnes then completed their superb set by performing Out on the Porch.
The highlight of the evening was the incredible Prolisok Ukrainian dance company from London who had recently appeared on the BBC One Show. They started with a beautiful flower dance by the women and ending with an incredibly fast stepping, high jumping, and quick squatting dance by the men. Afterwards Ukrainian, Antonio Gresko made an emotional speech saying, “We have gone from colour to a war tone grey. Millions have fled to seek sanctuary. We are proud of our Ukrainian army. Today we are ALL Ukrainians.”
Carol Decker was due to perform but had got stuck on a cruise where she was performing because of a medical emergency.
Nick Heyward, original lead singer of the 80s band, Haircut 100, was the finale headline act. He said, “I didn’t hesitate to say yes to this when Rebecca asked me.” He performed Haircut 100 classics’; Take that Situation, Love Plus One and Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl). With the audience on their feet and all the other musicians joining on stage the concert ended with Fantastic Day and the Beatles With a Little Help From My Friends. Afterwards, the audience were invited on stage to have a selfie taken with Nick.
Rebecca said afterwards, “What can I say… last night was a touching reminder of what a caring community can achieve. Music really does bring people together. Deepen our souls and raise the spirits. The Prolisok Ukrainian dance company stole the show and our hearts with a moving speech from Antonio Gresko. The beautiful show of passion and cultural pride, brought tears to my eyes and I think everyone in the room felt it too.
I couldn’t have done it without an incredible team of generous hearted humans. Enormous thanks to Quentin Clarke from Silk Purse Videos for live-streaming the event which is still there to watch and donate. To Sarah Gilbert from The Creative Duck for amazing production and creative support. The Kenton Theatre for the wonderful space, freelance helpers and brilliant soundman Kent. Linda Serck from BBC Berkshire for being the best co-host a girl could wish for.
And of course all our amazing artists for giving their time and talent for free. We are still waiting for numbers to come in but think it will be around £1,300 mark we raised on the night.”