Compiled by: Hussain Manawer
Rita Ora, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran, Tinie Temper, Rizzle Kicks, Rudimental, Beverly Knight, Jahmane Doughlas, Jamie Callum, Labrinth, Ellie Goulding, Emeli Sande, and an unexpected arrival of Dizzee Rascal… did the Brit Awards strike twice in one year? Not quite, instead London’s O2 arena last night was lit up by the Unity Concert in remembrance of Stephen Lawrence.
The point was emphasised by hosts Nick Grimshaw, and Reggie Yates that all performers had donated their time and talent for free, and the audience were surprised to learn that Universal Records had agreed to donate all proceedings from the album sales from the night back to the Stephen Lawrence trust.
Ed Sheeran made his debut appearance in the UK for the first time in a year showing us what we have all been missing out on, starting with his trade mark song A Team. Followed by You Need Me I Don’t Need You, he even pulled out his rock star and grime attributes as he started tearing the strings on his guitar, chucked it to one side and hit the crowd with some heavy lyrics.
And if you were thinking the list stopped there, guest speakers from the likes of Jermain Defoe, Danny Boyle, and comedian Omid Djalili brought their own elements of support to the stage with heartfelt speeches, comedy, and even some football banter from Defoe.
With Grimshaw and Yates entertaining the crowd during sets, the atmosphere within the arena was like nothing I have ever felt before. Baroness Doreen Lawrence was introduced on to the stage by Danny Boyle, who told the crowd that Stephen would have loved this as he was a huge music lover. With nothing but positivity setting the mood and the performers in full swing, the show was utterly perfect.
Support also hailed off stage from media outlets such as the BBC, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and many online and print publications. This shows that both the Trust and Universal Records achieved an incredible balance of portraying the meaning of the event, whilst ensuring the audience had a fantastic time.
Twenty years on from Stephen Lawrence’s death, the concert was held as part of the SL20 campaign which is celebrating his life with a series of awareness-raising events through the year. Universal’s part in such a campaign demonstrates their commitment to delivering engaging experiences for music fans in a context that they feel truly passionate about.
With the generosity of Universal Records, the artists, and special guests involved, hope and support is offered to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. With some of the UK’s most recognisable names in music donating their free time to such a worthy cause, and the support from a 15,000 strong audience, I am pretty sure I am not alone when I hope for this concert to be repeated yearly.