It is heartening to learn that the Liverpool music community has come out in support of the victims of the recent Manchester attack with the announcement of the release of the ‘ Love From Liverpool’ compilation, featuring a variety of musicians from the city.
What struck everyone about the Manchester Arena incident in May was the indiscriminate, callous nature of an attack on a largely young audience simply enjoying a night out watching Ariana Grande, one of the biggest stars of the moment. It was also a night on which many parents were involved as they dropped their children off before the show and were waiting to pick them up at the end of the night. They were anticipating nothing more than a safe journey home, listening to tales of how great the show was, while admiring T-shirts and programmes bought at the gig.
In the aftermath of the attack, the people of Manchester gained huge respect globally for the way they got behind the victims and survivors, sending out a powerful message that the city wouldn’t be beaten by terrorism. The music world also rallied and just weeks later Ariana Grande hosted and headlined the One Love Manchester benefit concert at Old Trafford, featuring a line-up of big names showing their support for the people of Manchester and music fans and musicians everywhere.
The horrific tragedy at Grenfell Tower also saw an almost immediate response from the music industry. Simon Cowell brought together over 50 musicians who wanted to do something for the victims and the survivors of the terrible fire. The Artists for Grenfell’s cover of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ went straight to Number One, with 120,000 combined sales on the day of its release.
Of course the most famous example of musicians coming together to support those in need is the Band Aid single and Live Aid gig at Wembley, which still lives large in the memories of millions who watched it on TV. Live Aid wasn’t just important because of the money it raised (although that was vitally important) but because the involvement of so many global stars, which raised international awareness of the desperate plight of those suffering through terrible famine in Ethiopia.
Normally these projects are driven by one or two key people with a passion for the cause and the contacts and influence to make things happen quickly. With Live Aid it was Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and promoter Harvey Goldsmith. Simon Cowell used his influence to make the Artists for Grenfell single come together so quickly, as did Ariana Grande and her manager Scooter Braun with the Manchester gig.
On a smaller scale, but important to me personally, was my involvement in 2009 and 2012 with records which aimed both to raise awareness of the ongoing injustice surrounding the Hillsborough disaster and also to raise money for the families of the 96 who died. The 2009 record ‘The Fields of Anfield Road’ was very much a DIY affair, driven by then Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram.
None of us really knew what we were doing so the record basically featured our mates and fellow Liverpool fans, Peter Hooton (who also helped organise the project), John Power and Mick Head. The producer was another old friend, Ken Nelson, who produced the first two Coldplay albums. I’d lost touch with Ken but had a rough idea where his seat was on the Kop and found him there during half time at the match. Luckily, he enthusiastically agreed to drop everything and do the single with us. It is this spirit of generosity that makes projects like this succeed and turns them into such rewarding experiences for all involved.
Despite our inexperience of the mechanics of selling records, the single reached the Top 20 and raised funds for the Hillsborough Families Support Group. More importantly it raised awareness of the fact that the families of the 96 still hadn’t received justice. The record is still played at Anfield at all home games and it is something I’m proud to have played a small part in.
Liverpool and Manchester share a huge rivalry in football and music. But with music the rivalry is a respectful and generally affectionate one, with both cities ultimately recognising the strength of the other. Just look at Oasis – Noel and Liam have always been vocal in their love of The Beatles and The La’s, while Noel, a noted admirer of Liverpool music legend Mick Head, went on to use his Sour Mash record label to release a Shack album in 2006.
It is fitting that Liverpool’s music community has reached out to show support for our regional neighbour. Rock and pop stars have a huge influence and many use this for the greater good. The recent examples of One Love Manchester, Artists for Grenfell and now the ‘Love From Liverpool’ album are great examples of artists losing their egos and uniting for worthy causes.
Music really can make a difference.
Love From Liverpool, released by NuNorthern Soul Records, is available on iTunes and features various Liverpool based artists including The Wombats, The Christians, Pixey, Stealing Sheep, Edgar Jones and Circus DJ/Producer Yousef.
Order a copy by clicking HERE.
The BME contains a display case dedicated to and containing artefacts from Live Aid.