Monday, 15 September 2014

Invictus Games Closing Concert - 14/09/14

The message behind the Invictus Games is that we are all equal and so prejudice is unnecessary, and I feel that came through extremely strongly with the line-up for the closing concert. If you can show me another concert that can feature Rizzle Kicks, Ellie Goulding and Foo Fighters seamlessly and perfectly, I will be majorly surprised. 
But that's exactly what happened here.

Starting off with the pipes and drums from the Brigade of Gurkhas was traditional, but mixing it up by involving the drummers in the first dance from Britain's Got Talent alumni Diversity was a stroke of genius the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time. It was an unexpected and intelligent decision that made me a lot more excited about what was going to develop throughout the course of the day. Diversity then went on to perform a second dance, inviting vocal group Urban Voices on stage to sing 'Cry Me A River' by Justin Timberlake. I will admit, I was slightly disappointed by Diversity; their performances look a lot more impressive on TV, but I have never seen a dance troupe live before so this might be a regular issue in a live environment.

Next up, surprise special guest Bryan Adams whose set was short but sweet. Playing 'Run To You', 'She Knows Me' and 'When You're Gone' meant that he didn't perform any of his best known songs, but with the set being performed acoustically he demonstrated a raw talent that seems hard to beat in the music scene of today.

Run To You
She Knows Me
When You're Gone

Following an absolute legend with Rizzle Kicks shouldn't have worked, but they were brimming with exuberant energy and, while they definitely weren't the most on point performers of the day, their set was completely fun. Excluding 'Down With The Trumpets' from their set in favour of new release 'Tell Her' seemed unusual, but 'Mama Do The Hump' had the entire crowd screaming and dancing along, showing that Rizzle Kicks are greatly appreciated despite being relatively new on the scene.

Tell Her
Mama Do The Hump

An event like Invictus Games couldn't go ahead without the inclusion of the Military Wives Choir, who seemed pretty average. I don't mean for that to sound harsh, I've just never really seen the appeal with the group. I do think it's admirable that they have taken their negative experiences and turned them into something positive and enlightening and they are indeed inspiring, I just don't think they're that impressive vocally.

The energy soon picked up again though, with The Vamps bursting onto the stage to perform 'Somebody To You', 'Last Night' and 'Cecilia'. While they haven't yet got One Directions fan base or global appeal I can't see it taking too long, as they seemed truly grateful to be there and attempted to interact with the crowd as much as possible, even if the audience didn't seem to be too receptive to their efforts. But their songs are catchy and with 'Somebody To You' recently getting re-released with a guest vocal by Demi Lovato I can see them going to high up places fast.

Somebody To You
Last Night

On the other hand, comedian Terry Alderton was absolutely disgusting. I understand that topical comedy is a big-seller and usually I would have found his jokes funny, but the Invictus Games are more of a family event than the types of rooms he'd usually be playing. Telling jokes ranging from kidnapping to commentary about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, this brand of comedy was just too topical for a family environment and while he seemed to be reveling in being boo'd off stage it's not something to celebrate; it just made the entire crowd feel uncomfortable and definitely dampened the mood on what had otherwise been a faultless day.

Another performer who couldn't have been missing from the closing concert was James Blunt. It's well known that he was in the military for six years so I'm sure the Invictus story was extremely close to his heart and it definitely seemed to be as he beamed his way through his entire set. His set may only have been five songs but he managed to squeeze in three songs from recent release 'Moon Landing' (namely 'Stay The Night', 'Heart To Heart' and 'Bonfire Heart') and the happier lyrical content and the upbeat music demonstrates perfectly how content James is with his life at the moment, following his recent marriage to Sofia Wellesley. Interspersing his new songs with smash hits 'You're Beautiful' (during which the screen focused upon a teary military man singing along, which was poignant and heart-warming) and '1973', which concluded with James climbing into the crowd and crowd-surfing, filled with the energy that's more usually expected from a five year old.

Stay The Night
You're Beautiful
Heart To Heart
Bonfire Heart

Following James Blunt was a surprise appearance from folk punk singer Frank Turner, who played three songs: 'The Way I Tend To Be', 'The Next Storm' and 'I Still Believe'. This is the second time I've seen Frank Turner but he was completely spot on vocally and musically. There is something special about this man and, while I can't put my finger on what that is, we were lucky to have him appear.

The Way I Tend To Be
The Next Storm
I Still Believe

Next up, Ryan Adams and the Shining. Starting off with recent single 'Gimme Something Good' got the crowd involved, but over the course of the next four songs he seemed to lose both attention and interest. 'Gimme Something Good' is the only song of his that I've heard before, but after his performance it's still the only one I can remember, which tells me something about the fact that he does have a talent but it's not outstanding or remarkable; it's verging on average and forgettable. Being the only artist not to mention Invictus or to thank Prince Harry he didn't really seem to get into the spirit of the concert, which was very disappointing after such an amazing response from the other artists.

Contrasting completely to the failure of Terry Alderton earlier in the day, Gina Yashere and her brand of comedy were very well accepted by the crowd at the event. Throughout the day presenters and special guests were performing on a smaller stage to the right of the main stage while it was being set up, but Gina quickly went against the status quo, sprinting from one end of the stage to the other shouting "Keep up with me camera man! I'm gonna make you work for your money!". If you've never seen a performance by Gina before I would highly recommend checking her out because I think she's absolutely hilarious. The rest of the crowd seemed to agree with me, with her entire set being filled with laughing, clapping and cheers, which was a welcome relief after the uncomfortably terrible performance from Terry.

I didn't think I would enjoy Ellie Goulding's performance. I've never really understood the appeal with her music, with 'Starry Eyed' and 'Explosions' being what I would describe as whiny and annoying, but I was pleasantly surprised with her set tonight. Starting off with 'Figure 8', a song I'd never heard before, I was automatically impressed with her stage presence, bounding around the stage with a frantic energy and she didn't let up for the entire set she played. Featuring massive hits 'Anything Can Happen', 'Need Your Love' (during which she showed off the fact that she was using a partial backing track in a massive middle finger to the haters who accuse her of lip-syncing) she slowed it down for 'Lights' then jumped back in with 'Burn', the lead single off of re-release 'Halcyon Days'. With time off coming up quickly to work on a new album, I'm extremely excited to hear what Ellie Goulding does next, because she's managed to convert me.

Figure 8
Anything Can Happen
Need Your Love

I'm extremely biased towards both of the final two acts. This was the first time I'd seen Kaiser Chiefs live, after an extremely long time of wanting to, and I was not left disappointed (well, apart from the short set that they played, only comprising of five songs). 'Ruby' incited a massive gang singalong, with 'Never Miss A Beat' getting everyone up and dancing the most that they had all night. New single 'Coming Home' didn't get as much of a reaction, but it also didn't fall short, showing that Kaiser Chiefs fans are extremely supportive of their music and don't care which direction they go next as long as they keep making new music. 'I Predict A Riot' had the best reaction, but with vocalist Ricky Wilson creating three Mexican waves in a row during 'Oh My God' it was a very close call.

Never Miss A Beat
Coming Home
I Predict A Riot
Oh My God

Before Foo Fighters performance was the fourth and final medal ceremony, featuring the athletes from Great Britain and a very special speech from Prince Harry (including a Mexican wave and a "message from Granny") which really pulled the focus back on to the athletes and the reason that we were all there. With one of the veterans exclaiming "without your support we'd be in pieces at home, instead we're here today, kicking the arse out of life" and there was no better way to describe exactly what the Invictus Games did for these amazing men and women. Despite the fact that I only managed to attend the closing concert I really wish I'd managed to make it to some of the games, because the adversity that these people have managed to overcome have proven to me that you really can get past anything if you have enough determination and it's definitely changed my perspective on life. I hope the Invictus Games continue for many years to come, because Prince Harry has created an inspirational and inclusive event that will help push the general public in a firm way towards acceptance for all.

But then, for the main event; Foo Fighters. Of course, a normal Foo Fighters headline set lasts between two or three hours, so many of the massive hits were missing from this set list, but it still managed to span most of their career and fit in some lesser known songs as well. Kicking off with 'All My Life' they demonstrated what they do best by extending the instrumental in the middle of the song for three or four minutes and, despite the fact that in a recorded environment it could be described as over doing it, in a live environment it's an absolutely flawless decision. Dave Grohl will always have the crowd eating out of his hands no matter what he does: extended instrumentals, sharing funny stories - the crowd loved every single second of it. Playing eleven songs is never going to be enough for a Foo Fighters set, but every second was faultless which is exactly why they're both the biggest and the best rock band on the planet right now. Despite their short set time, they still played 'Cold Day In The Sun', giving drummer Taylor Hawkins his chance to shine on the vocals, despite getting the giggles halfway through after swearing live on the BBC. The entire crowd were screaming along with the words to almost every song, proving that even people that had attended with a preference towards one of the other artists were still affected by Foo Fighters. Their reach is extreme; if you ask anyone on the street they will know at least one song and that's the appeal with them. I've never heard anyone utter the words "I don't like Foo Fighters" and, I can assure you, I will not be hearing them after their performance at this closing concert either. Foo Fighters are on top of the world and that's exactly where they're going to stay, and with new album 'Sonic Highways' out in November and their twentieth anniversary celebrations quickly approaching, the only way is up.

All My Life
Times Like These
The Pretender
Learn To Fly
My Hero
White Limo
Cold Day In The Sun
Best of You

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