It was 23rd July 2011 when Amy Winehouse was taken away before her time, found in her flat having died from alcohol poisoning. Her death was the catalysts which has created the need for discussion surrounding the attitude towards drugs. Friend of the singer and former drug addict Russell Brand has been very vocal in the need to reclassify addiction as a disease, not a choice, and Give It Up for Comic Relief was an event to ensure that Amy’s death was not in vain; to see a meaningful change in the awareness of, and attitudes towards, drugs.
The event was held in Wembley Arena, which is an awesome building. Situated adjacent to the Wembley Stadium, you reach it from the underground line by walking down a grand concourse, and on the night it was lit up magnificently, with huge TV monitors displaying Comic Relief branding as if there was any doubt as to why you were there. We arrived only minutes before the show was set to start, which proved to be a benefit as the admission queues were minuscule, and entering the arena I would only dread to imagine what it would have been like earlier: the place was RAMMED full. I don’t have statistics but from what I saw I wouldn’t be surprised if I was told that tickets sold out, after all, this is a gig with an incredibly good line-up.
As much as I would love to give you an incredibly awesome rundown of every performer of the night, I’m afraid that would be too expansive. Instead, let me just say that there was nobody on that bill who disappointed. From opening act Jessie J, right through to Noel Gallagher finishing with ‘Don’t look back in anger’, the performances were first class. I also discovered my new obsession – Emeli Sandé. She was literally incredible. Having only the vaguest awareness of her music and wouldn’t ever be able to identify her in the street, I would be lying if I said I was sitting in sweaty anticipation of her set, but that made it all the more electrifying when she started. Her vocal capabilities and general stage presence is amazing, and I actually went home and purchased her album that week. Love Emeli Sandé.
Returning to the gig… I know it was televised, so I’m not 100% sure what was included or what wasn’t, but they also sporadically showed videos of celebrities discussing one thing they are addicted to- ranging from things like biscuits and milk, to shopping, to some kind of science particle that only the mind of Professor Brian Cox would think to say. In addition to this, there was also a memorial video for Amy Winehouse in stark contrast to the lighthearted tone of the evening, but I think it was important to show it. The event was for her, inspired by her, and to prevent more people dying like her.
Her death needn’t be in vain.