Thursday, 16 December 2010

Talkin 'Bout A Revolution (Mandella Day)

I guess there must have been 70,000 people there that day.  That was the capacity of the old Wembley Stadium.

Most of us were there to see Simple Minds.  Most of us had little idea who Nelson Mandella was.  He was still in prison at the time

Myself and Our Kid took seats on the side of the station and watched the acts come and go.  Mostly they were the big names of the day - perhaps trying to support the cause of freedom for South Africa, perhaps just trying to sell some more records.

I remember...

Graham Chapman asking for 30 seconds of abuse
The whole stadium reverberating to the low bass of UB40
Watching the endless drum solos of the african musicians that inter-spersed the main acts
George Michael's set - and not being able to hear a single word he was singing
Everyone singing "how long - to sing this song" and hoping that U2 were gonna fill the blank spot on the programme.
Wishing Courtney Pine would get off and stop playing Jazz
Having to leave half-way through Dire Straits to catch the last train back

There was much talk of that hour - a mystery guest.  Some were saying the Beatles were gonna reform with Julian taking his father's place, some claimed the Rolling Stones.  In the end we got an hour of Hugh Masekala and Winne Bombata - only finding out after we returned home that it was supposed to have been Stevie Wonder, but someone had stolen his equipment.

It was long and sometimes slow day, it was noisy and some acts were better than others.

Most of it is now erased by the passing of the years: I know what we were supporting that day now and I wish i'd known more about it at the time.

But I always remember this one girl

She got up on the stage alone with her guitar, no backing musicians - just her and her voice.  None of us had ever heard of her - she was a newcomer playing to 70,000 Simple Minds fans

If you looked at the big screens you could see her shaking - but that voice took us away.

Now I'm not much of a fan of female singers: I can't stand all that Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston warbling around the notes - but that voice touched me, sending shivers down my spine.  She was shaking - but she was totally in that moment, meaning every single word.

I guess it was one of those moments where we really stopped for a few seconds and remembered what we had paid our £40 for

Talking about a revolution

10 comments:

The Bug said...

Oh Tracy - you make me ashamed for mostly sitting on my behind instead of DOING something.

pohanginapete said...

This was the first song I ever heard her sing, and my reaction was similar to yours (my reaction to Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston is similar to yours, too).

I bought her album as soon as I could find it.

Argent said...

I had her album too. A very intense performer.

Titus said...

Good Heavens! I've just worked out how long ago this was.

Yes yes to Tracey, and yes yes yes to wishing Courtney Pine would get off and stop playing Jazz.

Joe Cocker! I remember Joe Cocker (because I love him).

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

bug - she's a great singer and writer

Pete - i'd forgotten that she came on twice at Mandela Day concert - in some ways it made her very famous

Argent - indeed

Titus - it's amazing how much of the show i'd forgotten till i looked at the wikipedia link. A lot of it came flooding back - like Joe Cocker (and with you there)

There's no list of the B-stage acts, so Courtney Pine goes unmentioned (but was there) - but even though I watched the video when i got back I have no memory of seeing Brian Adams there that day!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela_70th_Birthday_Tribute

Michael said...

I admire people (artists) like her who do what they do so naturally. As if they have not doubt that what they are doing is what they are supposed to be doing. Like breathing.

Lydia said...

Oh, yes! I admire her and loved your description of the day you saw her. She never played the fame game, consequently her talent has remained pure (but I wish she would record something again).

I feel the same about Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston/most of the chicks trying out for AmericanIdol, etc. - only I am not as kind as you. I think they sound like they are having trouble on the toilet!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

michael - some people do seem to be naturally talented like that

Lydia - that is the most perfect description :)

The Clandestine Samurai said...

You said you don't like female singers? Why not?
I can understand not liking Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston or Celine Dion. You can leave that trash for sanitation pick-up on Saturday.

But what about Annie Lennox? Or the lead singer from the Cranberries? Pink? Flyleaf (contemporary hard rock band, doubt you've come across them, they're not too popular)? Sarah McLaughlin is pretty decent. Or Adele?

I will marry Adele one day.......

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Samurai - i dunno really. I guess i just prefer gruff blokes who sound like they smoke too much :)

There are a few exceptions to the rule - singers who don't do that horrible diva thing. Annie Lennox, yes and no but i like early Eurythmics. The Cranberries are ok. I'm not really a Pink fan, but have no major objections to her voice and don't know the last few you mentioned at all (I hope that you and Adele will be very happy, but i have no idea who she is).

Big fan of the late Kirsty MacColl though, really like Bjork and Alison Moyet - so there are, as always, exceptions to the rule