From conception to delivery in under two months the For The Valley gig at the St Mary’s Centre on Saturday proved that politics and music can still mix well, writes Jonathan Haworth.
Following the lead set by the Red Wedge movement in the 1980s and with a line up featuring up-and-coming local talent, it was a night that aimed to raise interest levels in politics with the valley’s next generation of voters and had been supported earlier in the day by a successful economics workshop lead by Cat Smith, the Labour MP and Shadow Cabinet Minister for voter engagement and youth affairs.
After a late line up change due to illness, the night kicked off with a solo set from David Jaggs and a strong opener he proved to be, dropping in en-route to a gig in Manchester he warmed the growing crowd up with a lively set interspersed with several songs from his usual band The Ragamuffins.
Many benefit gigs often involve some form of super group-style collaboration and this was no different as the second act on the bill was the Valley’s own version; a collaboration between members of The Ruby Tuesdays and Good Foxy. Appearing as The Sea Men they proceeded to lift the evening’s vibe even further with a set that got the audience dancing away in front of the stage.
The audience were then treated to a short film and speech from Mike Jackson, founder member of the 80’s activist group Lesbian’s and Gays Support the Miners, himself no stranger to benefit gigs as demonstrated recently in the Bafta award winning film Pride.
Next up Northern Sports Club showed that a summer of local festival appearances had served them well. An explosive start raised the energy levels, and despite it causing problems with the drum kit they continued to deliver an assured set with singer Millie’s vocals showing a power way beyond her years. In fact it was a tough call as to who enjoyed themselves more, the band or the audience.
Final act of the night Palace Motion also demonstrated that they are another band on the rise, with a driving set including tracks from their recent EP and, with their take on modern life referencing subjects as diverse as protein shakes and Tinder, they were deservedly dragged back onto stage for an encore to end the evening’s proceedings.
Before the 250 or so crowd dispersed there was still time for a mini sing-a-long stage invasion and then they left waving placards and showing that there are still many youngsters in the valley that have not switched off from politics. The organisers will definitely be buoyed by their response as they make their plans for the future.