'Children In Need Rocks the 80s' at Wembley Arena
Thursday 19th October
'If something's worth doing, it's worth OVERdoing' was clearly the BBC's motto when they organised the 'Children In Need' event that I attended this evening. I say 'event' rather than 'gig' for multiple reasons, the primary ones being that as the whole thing was being filmed for television, each act had a short introduction by BBC presenting staples Sara Cox and Fearne Cotton, and there was also quite a bit of waiting between acts whilst the pair filmed introductions to various appeal and information films.
Hosts Fearne Cotton and Sara Cox
Some of the artists were brilliant, of course. The best of the bunch was undoubtedly OMD- and I promise that for once I am not being bias. As ever, the energy they put into the songs blew everyone else out of the water, with Andy on particularly good form with his notorious 'windmill' dancing during 'Maid Of Orleans'. It won't be shown on TV until mid-November apparently, but the mere thought of people seeing that part in particular with looks of awe and confusion on their faces will be more than worth the wait.
Andy Bell of Erasure
Erasure (which consisted solely of Andy Bell, as far as I could tell) were also exceptional, as was, unsurprisingly, Leee John (aka Imagination), who dazzled the crowd with his sparkly choice of clothing and delighted them with his unashamedly camp dance moves. Bananarama were also surprisingly good; they kicked off the proceedings with an easy-going yet fresh performance of their 1986 hit 'Venus'.
Slightly more disappointing acts included Jason Donovan (although he was pretty dreadful the first time around) and Europe (see my remark RE Jason Donovan; I don't know who decided that they should close the show but they clearly know nothing about the 1980s). I was also utterly confused as to why Louisa Johnson was performing. From the information I gleaned from people standing around me, I gather she was on X Factor, and despite having a pretty solid voice her recital of Heart's 'Alone' seemed rather irrelevant.
Strangely enough, A-Ha's performance was unfortunately anti-climactic too. What they did perform (an acoustic version of 'Take On Me') was stunning, but with the status they had in the '80s you'd think they would have been asked to play for more than just three minutes.
And whilst A-Ha's performance felt decidedly underdone, other parts were particularly OVERdone- huge amounts of confetti tumbling from the ceiling and near-drowning the audience in the mosh pit during the final song, choirs rushing on and off stage dressed in unflattering sparkly leggings, and huge amounts of fire-based special effects bursting from the direction of the stage are just a few examples of how the BBC managed to make the whole thing completely over the top. But then again, perhaps we wouldn't want it any other way. The eighties is the decade known for being over the top, after all, and without the confetti, technical problems and general shenanigans, it wouldn't have been half as much fun as it was.