A charity gig at Peterborough Arena saw top names perform live and ESP was there to capture the action…
As an avid gig goer, the news of James Ellis’ Musicality charity event had me both surprised and psyched at the same time.
Anyone who lives here in Peterborough, or knows the city well, will understand that if you want to get to a decent concert, there is a 90% chance that you’re going to have to go out of your way to do so.
So when I heard on the grapevine, that an ambitious teenager (just seventeen at the time he organised it all) had managed to pull together a line-up including Toploader, Scouting for Girls, Jay Sean, B.O.B and Family Fortune’s frontman Vernon Kay, I couldn’t wait to see how this was going to pan out.
Amazingly, by the time the first act was on, it looked pretty much like everyone had already arrived at the venue. To me, this shows how eager people are for a live music scene in Peterborough, as often at bigger gigs elsewhere you’d still see people filing in halfway through the second act.
From the moment Toploader came on, their stage presence, accumulated through years and years of performances was evident. Their energy was met by the ever-growing crowds, with teens getting on each other’s shoulders to get a better look and singing along to the classic Dancing in the Moonlight, which finished their set on a euphoric high.
Second up were Scouting for Girls, a band that many people will remember fondly from the late 2000’s when they blessed us with gems like She’s So Lovely and Heartbeat. From the cheers and the chants, it was clear that this was the act that brought a lot of the younger generation to the show. With many people knowing every word to every song, it wasn’t long before singer-songwriter Roy Stride, told the crowd that they were amazing and that he thinks more people should be coming to Peterborough. I couldn’t agree more.
When singing a fan favourite, I Wish I Was James Bond, Stride threw his glasses into the crowd; driving everyone crazy as they struggled to be the lucky one to take them home. Shortly after, he added humour to the set when he nipped off stage to go to the loo; leading to bassist Greg Churchouse jokingly telling the crowd that they were the first ones to make the singer abandon a show.
That’s something I’ve got to give to each of the acts, their crowd engagement was always remarkable. With Jay Sean coming out into the pit to take photos and sign something for a birthday girl who’d come all the way from Leicester just to see him, plus B.O.B crowd-surfing and signing t-shirts (and sweaty towels), it was pleasant to see that the acts were determined to make this night memorable for fans. And although they were diverse genres, the event flowed seamlessly with hilarious Vernon Kay presenting between the acts and urging people to donate to the chosen charities.
They included: the Injured Jockey’s Fund, the Matt Hampson Foundation, #teamgeorge and Stamford based chidlren’s cancer charity Anna’s Hope. Ellis was inspired to hold this event to raise money for the charities after a fellow student at Stamford School suffered life changing injuries last summer, playing Rugby in South Africa.
Next up on stage was Jay Sean, who is someone I never imagined we’d see in Peterborough! As soon as I saw the towels set out on stage and the DJ come out, I knew that this was going to be an energetic set. He sang all the hits I remembered from growing up, including Down, I’m All Yours and 2012 (It Ain’t The End), which really got the crowd going and I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t know every word. He also threw in a few covers including one of Rihanna’s Work and Drake’s One Dance, after talking about the positive changes he’s been seeing in club music where women can actually dance again.
B.O.B had one of the most insane crowd reactions I’ve ever seen at a gig. When he started to crowd surf, people were desperate to get a chance to be one of those lucky enough to help hold him up. As well as playing the hits Nothing On You, Airplanes and Both Of Us, B.O.B also treated older fans to songs from way back when, and although I couldn’t tell you what they were, those they were aimed at were absolutely loving life at that moment. At the end of his set, he threw out signed shirts and towels into the crowd before urging fans to donate to the charities and thanking them for getting him to where he is today.
The woman stood next to me at the barrier was lucky enough for B.O.B to take her phone and record on it and I’ve never seen someone so elated. I caught up with the lucky Laura Hunt on Facebook after the gig, and regarding the entertainment in Peterborough, she told me “Personally, I don’t think Peterborough Arena itself is promoted as much as it should be, hence why not only do members of the public, such as myself not know about it but neither do celebrities.” She then carried on to tell me how “there are many other cities that have international artists fly over to entertain their fans so why should Peterborough be excluded from that?”
There was something for everyone at this concert; whether you’re into rock, pop, urban or rap music, Musicality catered for you.
Musicality is a business venture of Stamford student James Ellis. When I caught up with him after the show, he seemed elated with how well it went and it was clear that this is not the last we’ll be seeing of both him and Musicality as a brand. Ellis plans to keep his business local and bring more events (not just music) to the city and surrounding areas. This could be just the kick Peterborough needs to get its name on the musical map and well, we have his and his team’s compassion and ambition to thank for that.
If you couldn’t make it to the show but would still like to give to the amazing charities that the event was in aid of, you can donate by visiting their official websites.
By Tiffany Wright
Photos: Chris Brudenell for ESP Magazine