"Capturing the moment"

What: Rockwell

Where: O2 Arena, London

When: 11th September

rockwellNo, Rockwell of the 1980s hit is not trying to sell out the O2 Arena! Mind you there would have been something slightly ironic about it if he were. This September date was nestled in amongst the 50 dates that Michael Jackson was going to be dominating the schedule with his massive residency.

Why ironic, well Rockwell is the son of Berry Gordy Jnr (and was signed to his Motown label) and Michael Jackson sang on the chorus of Rockwell’s one hit wonder “Somebody’s Watching Me”.

This particular Rockwell is the name given to an event in aide of the Nordoff-Robbins music charity. This year’s gig looked to unite a variety of musicians with unique collaborations. The gig didn’t sell that well despite the line up of artists and some front block tickets were being sold the day before the event at £10 each. A real bargain as you will see from the list of artists.

Lulu with Dan Gillespie (The Feeling)
Dan Gillespie (The Feeling) with Beverley Knight
Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey (Supergrass now Hot Rats) with Johnny Borrell (Razorlight) performing Elvis Costello’s “Pump it up”
Gabriella Cilmi / Ronan Keating (Boyzone)
David Gray with Escala (Britain’s got talent (The ones that play strings and look like they came out of a Robert Palmer video))
Joss Stone with Tom Jones
The whole cast perform The Beatles’ let it be.

Each of the main artists did a further couple of numbers in addition to the duets which created a very varied and interesting night’s entertainment. This was good and bad. If you didn’t like the artist you didn’t have to wait too long before the next one. On the other hand sometimes you didn’t feel satisfied with what you were served.

The one act who didn’t duet with anybody was Robert Plant. Instead he did some very unusual arrangements of Led Zeppelin songs Black Dog and Whole Lotta Love. He was joined on stage by a collection of African musicians including riti player Juldeh Camara (a riti is a a one string fiddle). The African arrangements as bizarre as it may seem worked. Hearing the one stringed riti doing a “guitar” solo was enthralling.

The house band were present through most of the set and included Mike Rutherford (Genesis and Mike and the Mechanics).

Rockwell set out to be a collection of unique duets and certainly achieved that. The one disappointment for me was the closing number “Let it be”. I’m used to a variety of artists coming together for the final number where they take it in turns to sing a line or two. What I don’t expect though is for them to sound so much like amateurs. This was perhaps down to the “clever” idea of allowing the audience to vote for what they wanted to be the final number. Perhaps O2 can take a leaf out of Orange’s support for the cinema and “Don’t let a mobile ruin your movie”