The Children in Need Rocks concert at the M.E.N. Arena was billed as one of the greatest collections of pop acts ever on a single stage. TOM BROOKS-POLLOCK says that it didn’t disappoint …
Lady Gaga was rolled on to the stage perched on an enormous chair and bedecked in pearls. She boomed out the opening bars of Born This Way – and ‘popaggeddon’ had arrived.
This is Children in Need Rocks, a feast of some of the world’s finest acts brought together on a single night in the name of charity.
Rubbing shoulders with Gaga – the undisputed queen of pop – were other members of musical royalty, including Coldplay, Elbow, JLS and Michael Buble.
The spectacular show – masterminded by Take That’s Gary Barlow – was compered by Chris Moyles, Fearne Cotton, and David Tennant – formerly known to millions as Dr Who. A crowd of 14,000 were already in bouyant mood before Gaga – invited personally by Barlow via email – emerges for a three-song set.
Her dramatic entrance was matched by her pitch-perfect singing as she follows Born This Way, which had the crowd in raptures – with Edge of Glory and Marry the Night.
It was a tough act to follow but Elbow, the boys from Bury, were the first to prove up to the task. The huge stadium setting demanded an equally epic song – and a rousing rendition of One Day Like This sent an electric charge around the arena.
Barlow, one of the most well- connected men in showbiz, flexed his pop-world contacts – and it was well worth it. One of the best performances of the night came from rising star Jessie J. Having already starred in a duet with James Morrison she returned with a flawless rendition of Nobody’s Perfect.
The bill has something for everyone, with Buble’s laid-back charm somehow working alongside the energetic JLS.
A spectacular light show and ever-changing set added to the sense of occasion.
The Manchester crowd proved stars in their own right. Barlow promised they would scream louder than their London counterparts – and they proved him right, time and again.
The performances were interspersed with videos of youngsters the night was designed to help. Harley Slack, the brave little boy from Stockport who lost all his limbs to meningitis, melted the crowd’s hearts during a live interview with Tennant.
The cheer he got might just have been the biggest of the night.
Barlow himself – who was due to sing a duet with Cheryl Cole, until the Girls Aloud singer called off sick – had the crowd on their feet and roped them in to join him in a soaring rendition of one of his greatest songwriting moments, Take That’s 1995 hit Back for Good.
Coldplay’s stadium melancholia provided a fitting end to an historic night, as they closed with Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, Paradise, and Viva La Vida.
Huge pop ‘events’ have a tendency to disappoint. But this is one night that really did live up to its grand billing – and did Children in Need, Barlow, and Manchester itself proud.
Credit: M.E.N Media
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