Oh, I love a benefit concert! Grew up on 'em (the Secret Policeman's Ball shows, the Amnesty concerts for human rights, Live Aid...), and always welcome another.
Very happily, a huge new benefit show occurred Saturday night near London: Chime for Change: The Sound of Change Live Concert!
The cause is simple yet crucial: "to raise awareness of issues affecting girls and women, and to raise funds for non-profit organizations pursuing change."
The method is also simple, yet innovative: via the Catapult website (link below), ticket-buyers -- the audience at Twickenham Stadium was 50,000 strong -- can choose the recipient organizations for their purchase price: directly funding the charity or charities of their choice. (Catapult is new as of last autumn, but features serious support from the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Fund for Women, and the United Nations Population Fund.)
The Sound of Change Live was a big show, a really big show.
Capped off by a hit-laden set from Chime for Change co-founder and Artistic Director, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (which saw her joined onstage for "Crazy in Love" by her husband, Jay-Z), the list of performers and presenters just might blow your mind a little. Hello: Jennifer Lopez and Mary J. Blige sang a duet rendition of The Beatles' "Come Together." A suavely bearded Simon Le Bon wandered over from Putney to jam Duran Duran's vintage "The Reflex" with hip-hop flourishes from Timbaland. Florence + the Machine wowed with their set (including a brilliant "You Got the Love"), and J-Lo tore it up with a bevy of hits. Rita Ora, California girl-band Haim, John Legend and plenty of others took the stage (while, I guess, some of the significantly wealthier Londoners could afford to see Barbra Streisand at the O2). And who doesn't love Ellie Goulding? She played, too.
The show also seemed to feature more presenters than the Academy Awards, as all sorts of high-profile Hollywood types grabbed the mic: Salma Hayek-Pinault, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Zoe Saldana, Ryan Reynolds, and plenty more. Madonna didn't sing or conspicuously grab herself, but our new Gloved One smartly promoted education in challenged regions, summoning a "revolution of love." Even the ubiquitous James Franco was there, although I swear I saw him at Kate Mantilini's about ten minutes earlier (guy gets around).
Anyway, pardon the brief editorial comment, but this is why there's show biz. They play; everybody has a good time; people get helped; some people literally get saved. I love this.
I also note that some press are already marking this as a sort of "Beyoncé's Big Adventure." Well, what of it? Would Live Aid have happened without Bob Geldof? Would the Secret Policeman's Ball shows have happened without Martin Lewis? I sure doubt it. These shows need a very strong voice front and center. And hey, the girl I remember from that Austin Powers movie seems to have upped her game a bit, eh? She opened with Sam Cooke's immortal "A Change Is Gonna Come," as well as Etta James' "At Last." Breathtaking.
Chime for Change: The Sound of Change Live Concert was broadcast in over 150 countries, a few of which I hadn't heard of before. Sponsors include Gucci, and Hearst Magazines.
Again, it was a big show. For a great cause. In the U.S., a two-hour highlight special of the concert airs tonight (2nd of June, 2013) on NBC.
Peep the links. Thank you.
Photos courtesy of Chime for Change.