Last week some of the biggest names in music joined forces at The Royal Albert Hall in London to pay tribute to the late Charlatans drummer, Jon Brookes.
Diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010, Jon Brookes faces several operations and won many battles before he finally lost his fight against cancer in August this year. Close friend (and fellow Charlatan) Tim Burgess decided to curate a charity evening as a tribute to one of the founding members of the band, inviting along more than a few well-known faces in the process.
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Birmingham band Dumb open the night before Tim Burgess comes onstage to front a super group pieced together especially for the night. The all-star line up includes Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order, James Walbourn of The Pretenders, Freddie Cowan and Arnie Arnason from The Vaccines, Mumford & Sons’ own Winston Marshall and of course Tim Burgress himself on vocals.
As he approaches the crowd the frontman explains: "I asked The Vaccines, but the singer was on holiday. I asked New Order, but the singer was on holiday. That wasn't going to stop us, so I said I'd sing." Performing three songs, the set includes New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ and The Vaccines’ ‘Melody Calling’ before a very poignant version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.
Speaking to Clash before the show, Joy Division and New Order drummer Stephen Morris spoke of Jon Brookes’ drumming ability: “Being a drummer myself I tend to ignore other drummers because it makes me feel inadequate. This especially so when listening to Jon, he was a brilliant drummer”. The Vaccines went on to speak about his kindness: “He was a very spirited person, I remember when we had organised a charity event for a friend of ours who had died and he immediately helped with that, he was a great person”
With The Chemical Brothers DJing in the break, James Dean Bradfield opens the second act with a three song acoustic set of ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, ‘If You Tolerate This’ and classic breakthrough single ‘A Design For Life’.
Liam Gallagher spent the summer escaping rumour and speculation, but agreed to make his first public appearance in some time at the charity event. Ramshackle collective ‘Liam & Friends’ act take to the stage, with the line up augmented by Chris Sharrock on drums, Andy Bell and Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs on guitars and Jay Mehler on bass. Performing an acoustic version of ‘Live Forever’, the group dedicate this to Jon before performing a storming version of ‘Columbia’ - both from Oasis’ debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’. A truly special moment, this marks the first time since Bonehead left Oasis in 1999 that he and Liam Gallagher have shared a stage.
The Charlatans, quite naturally, headline, coming on to regular set opener ‘Forever’. With Verve drummer Pete Salisbury sitting in on drums they rattle through a twelve song greatest hit set including ‘My Beautiful Friend’ - which Tim Burgess introduced by simply saying, “I think we know who this is for”.
Speaking to Clash before the show Tim Burgess told us that Jon Brookes would have relished the occasion. “I think he would love it tonight. He would love to be involved” he said. “Well, actually, he is involved isn’t he! It’s all about him!”
The Charlatans frontman went onto recall some happy memories. “What I can remember is that he always used to break bones; I remember him falling down Noel Gallagher’s staircase, a marble staircase - think he bust his leg that time. He broke his ankle when we were recording an album once!” he says. “When I first met him he told me he had bust his hand because he tried breaking in to Dudley Zoo the night before after a party”.
‘How High’ brings a raucous set to a close, before The Charlatans leave the stage - with the exception of Mark Collins, who remains to be joined by ‘Liam & Friends’ who perform a note perfect version of George Harrison’s 1970 hit ‘My Sweet Lord’. Rightfully, the final word belongs to The Charlatans who return to perform regular set closer ‘Sproston Green’ to wrap up the night's evening in triumphant style.
Words: Jam Luckhurst x Steve Aston
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All proceeds of the evening went to the Brain Tumour Charity. The Charity was set up by The Jon Brookes fund to which you can still donate by clicking HERE.
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