by Joseph Sarrington Smith
One of the great things about hosting a radio show (which I do every Friday morning on Wandsworth Radio) is the various people you get to meet. Thanks to the lovely Melody Kennett, I found myself on the guest list for The Flying Seagull Project – A Benefit Concert For Child Refugees curated by Ed Harcourt at the Union Chapel, Islington on Friday 2 December. Having never been to the Union Chapel before, I think it might’ve just become one of my favourite venues. A fully functioning church, as well as a drop-in centre for the homeless, it’s perfect for live music due to its acoustics.
The line-up featured The Magic Numbers, Charlotte Church, Carl Barât and Sophie Ellis-Bextor among others with stand-up comedy from Simon Munnery. I’ve always been aware of what a great voice Charlotte Church has, but to hear it in person really is quite something. Her rendition of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ was spine-tingling. At the interval, there was ivory tinkling courtesy of Colin Sell (who you may know as ‘The Lovely Samantha’ from the long-running cult Radio 4 show ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’). As the Emcee reminded us at the beginning of the show, sometimes it’s important to be silly in life, so Sell hammered home this point by making us play ‘One Song To The Tune Of Another’ (it was the lyrics of ‘Where Did You Get That Hat’ to the tune of The Dam Busters March!).
In the second half, Sophie Ellis-Bextor treated us to a brilliant version of ‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)’, complete with piano and string arrangement. But perhaps the highlight was the finale, where all the artists involved came out on stage together and the entire crowd stood as one to sing ‘Hallelujah’. It was a beautiful evening, and I found myself with tears in my eyes as a projector above the stage showed us photos of smiling children, taken by Flying Seagull volunteers on various trips to refugee camps. Ash Perrin, the founder of the charity, spoke to us about the project and it was inspiring to hear him speak so passionately about how and why it all started and the experiences he’s had so far. Below, you can find a link to their website, so you can read about the wonderful work him and his team do around the world. I can’t think of a better way of raising conciousness for this great cause, and funds and I’m already looking forward to their next benefit concert…