Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Chazzstock - KOKO, 4th October


I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this night, a celebration, some difficult messages or a straightforward album launch for ‘The Golden Year’? 

All in all, it was all of that, a true Camden ‘knees up’ with celebratory euphoria intermingled with sadder moments; a real rollercoaster of emotions from the compare Eddy Temple-Morris and the artists on the bill. Without being overly melancholic, it was all in keeping with the fun loving side of Charles.

Joe Hutchison made it to the event and played keyboards for some of the records, albeit looking like he was struggling a bit. The other Ou Est band member Caan Capan, sadly but understandably didn’t put in an appearance.

 From the outset, this seemed an event that was so close to Charles’ death, when people would still be in the early days of grief; knocked together quickly with bands using lyric sheets for some of the performances, it was obvious there was a lot of love for Charles personally as well as for his song writing talent. Each band played one song from the fantastic album in track order at the great venue KOKO, formerly Camden Palace and a favourite nostalgic haunt for me.

The Golden Year's first track is fantastic but unfortunately  Mister Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, had stage fright for the opening song. Grumble, grumble from me as ‘You Started’ is one of my favourites and ‘ballad belter’ Tony could have pulled it off beautifully. He did manage ‘True’ and ‘Gold’ at the end but was the only artist that night not to do an Ou Est track which was a great shame!

Anyway, moving on from the shaky start, next up were The Kooks cue earth shattering squeals from the girls in the audience. Front man Kook was a good friend of Charles, they jammed together and their acoustic rendition of ‘The Key’ was really fabulous and very moving.

A lot of these bands did slower, more acoustic versions of the tracks which seemed to fit the occasion perfectly. The amount of artists playing really gave this four hour gig a festival atmosphere, and bands were moved on and off swiftly with the sounds of Kissy Sell Out’s expertise DJ set which included a lot of Florence.. hooray!

Next up were Man Like Me… school friends of Joe and Caan. There has been some  Camden band feuding through interview spats in the recent year between them and Ou Est, so how cool they turned up…and how good were they? Brilliant! What a fabulously bonkers frontman and I will be keeping an eye out for them now especially after their cover of ’These New Knights’ with synchronised dancing…genius!

Next up was Nat Jenkins and the reappearance of ‘kooky’ Luke Pritchard on stage. A bit of me was relieved it wasn’t Frankmusik with 'Dance The Way I Feel' at this point as that would have been a misty eyed nightmare and too sad.

Alex Starling, the lesser known fourth member of Ou Est came on for the next two tracks and did a wonderfully touching performance of ‘Outside’, piano and voice was all that was needed and for me showed Charles’ talent for song writing that these tracks sound great electronically, acoustically and for some of this tribute with heavy guitars.

 The next artist MPHO was bought on stage with the an ‘emotional alert warning’, this lady with the fantastic voice seemed close to Ou Est and before starting her tribute to Charlie, expressed her love for the boys and how much she missed them. She then went into ‘Running Up That Hill’ to the crowd's surprise but at Ou Est's request.

Such a great cover of a classic Kate Bush track and again just fitted in with the proceedings. And being a huge Kate Bush fan, happy happy me but again mixed with that sadness, the lyrics taking on yet more meaning. MPHO’s performance of ‘Jackson’s Last Stand’ was perfect and along with the hugely entertaining Man Like Me was a highlight of the evening.

Artist up next on the bill was Daisy Dares You doing a guitar heavy ‘Answers'. This is another favourite off of 'The Golden Year' for me and she did a great job. Being the only track on the album with main vocals from Caan, I was hoping he might do it, but sadly no.

 Ollie Wride did his eccentric glam rock interpretation of ‘Get Along’ to a pulsating crowd. Tribes and a special guest appearance of a mix up of The Vaccines and The Horrors came on stage before Mr Hudson, who got the crowd going again with his hit ‘Forever Young.

It was a fittingly 'Camden Town' party for these local boys and ended the night on a high intermingled with some poignant words from compare Eddy urging everyone to ‘talk’ more, particularly young men who currently are the most likely to take their own lives.

Stage fright less now, Tony Hadley came on to close, looking a bit lost without his Kemp brothers but managed to belt out ‘ True’ and ‘Gold’ to a happily high crowd. If Charlie was looking down, I’m sure he was dancing.

The night successfully and sensitively launched the Ou Est album and talent of Charles Haddon. Out of every tragedy, there can be some positivity and if pushing awareness forward of this new epidemic in young men for depression coupled with a celebration of creative talent, then that is the silver lining in all this. With wise words during the evening from compare and good friend of Charlie's, Eddy Temple-Morris, if just one life is saved with this plea for men to 'talk' more, then this tribute to a troubled musician has done its most important job.

To not release ‘The Golden Year’ would only have added to the tragedy. And so, with that in mind, I am looking forward to whatever Joe and Caan go on to do in their futures.

A tribute to the life of Charles Haddon who sadly died August 20th 2010…all proceeds going to the mental health charity MIND.

Images: taken by me at Chazzstock 2010

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