Music, This Week In

Peace One Day O2

Sep 23rd, 2011

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Why Music Matters…

 

The packed O2 Arena is buzzing with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Expectations are high for tonight’s show, with a line up including Eliza Doolittle, Razorlight and Cat Stevens and creating the perfect blend of old and new, The English National Ballet and the contemporary dance crew Flawless are also performing.

 

Tonight’s concert – a groundbreaking initiative by the peace organisation Peace One Day, marks the 365 day countdown for a Global Truce on International Peace Day 2012, to implement humanitarian action without the threat of war. Jeremy Gilley, an actor turned filmmaker, founded the non-profit organisation in 1999. Despite small beginnings, the charity has grown into a global institution, with all member states of the United Nations unanimously voting for Gilley’s idea of an annual date marking International Peace Day in 2001.

 

Flash forward ten years and Gilley is addressing thousands of people in the spotlight of the monolithic O2 Arena, stating, “We need you to be involved in this process. We, the people, need to act. And when we will, they will. The time is now.” Appearing via video link, Peace One Day ambassador Jude Law underlined Gilley’s words by adding: “What difference does it make? Well, the difference of life or death.” However, tonight is not only about campaigning for peace. The concert was created to bring Peace One Day into the direct spectrum of the public eye, alongside renowned charities such as Unicef and Amnesty International.

 

The night begins with a rousing performance by AfroReggae, and the energetic drumming certainly wakes the crowd up from their post work slump. This vibrant set is followed by a quieter alternative, The National Ballet’s beautiful recital, which combined contemporary and traditional dance.

 

The entertainment was regularly interspersed with short documentaries, made by the charity to reach out to young people. After the first short film, which showed a teenager’s perception of violence on his estate, Eliza Doolittle took to the stage. Before kicking off an enticing set list with Mr. Medicine, she shouted to the audience, “This is great, it’s amazing. They need to do this every year!” After a performance including a cover of Bruno Mars’ Grenade and her smash hit Pack Up, the singer concluded, “Let’s spread the word, let’s do it all! Peace!” Britain’s Got Talent’s dance troupe, Flawless then took a break from their sold out tour to fluster us with their perfectly synchronized mixture of headspins, coindrops and applejacks, making the rest of us feel as though we have two left feet.

 

The nights’ headliners – Razorlight and Cat Stevens – were saved for last. Razorlight boldly highlighted the nights’ purpose when the first few notes of America echoed through the stadium. As everyone sang along, dancing on their chairs as the uniting feeling of ‘yes we can make peace’ radiated throughout the O2.

 

However, it was the legendary Cat Stevens that created the most awe inspiring performance of the night. After singing classics including Wild World, he received a resounding, booming applause as we all begged for an encore. During the concerts’ finale as Stevens sang Father and Son, complete strangers put their arms around each other and sang along at the top of their lungs, as they were truly united by music and a desire for peace.

 

During the concert, particularly as Stevens performed, I began to truly believe that achieving peace is possible, as long as we put our hands together over the next year.

 

To join the campaign, check out www.peaceoneday.org and sign the petition.

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