The circumstances which resulted in A Peaceful Noise (now in its second year) are tragic. This concert was held to raise money for the Nick Alexander Trust in memory of Nick Alexander who was killed in the terrorist attack “on the Bataclan Theatre in Paris in November 2015” while working as the merchandise manager for the Eagles of Death Metal (Joshua Homme, Nick Hughes). Nick was just 35. 88 other people also lost their lives in the venue that night.
The agenda was to not give into the fear terrorists intend to create, put on an amazing sellout Saturday night show and raise money for charities (The Nick Alexander Fund, The Sweet Stuff Foundation) representing the marginalised and disadvantaged sectors of society. After all, Saturday night is the night when anything can happen. Before the doors had opened, Reclaim the Night protesters peacefully marched whilst chanting; providing unexpected excitement. There was no way that the winter cold, nor the long queues would now perturb the crowd’s mood. Matt Forde (Dave, TalkSport, 8 out of 10 cats) introduced an impressive line-up including False Heads, Frank Turner, Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures) and Band of Skulls and guest DJ’s including Carl Barat (The Libertines).
Self-described as a ‘crack punk rock' three-piece; False Heads got things started. With musical influences ranging from The Ramones to Slaves and Cabbage, their sound was anything but peaceful, but offered both the perfect muscle relaxant and stimulant to galvanise the crowd into enjoying a night they would not forget; regardless of how many Motörhead Road Crew Americana Pale Ales they would drink (every penny from each sale of Motörhead Road Crew Americana Pale Ale went to the events two charities). Despite not having even released their debut album, False Heads showed they learned a trick or two from supporting The Libertines.
Frank Turner followed with an acoustic set. Despite this being, according to Frank his 2,124th gig; he had not set foot in ULU since 2002! Opening with his latest song, There She Is, the crowd quickly warmed to him. Turner also played Polaroid Picture with similar arrangements to the new Songbook version. Frank added to the excitement by debuting the new song, 1933, from his next album due out next spring. The defining point was Next Storm, with lyrics “But I don't want to spend the whole of my life indoors” offered the appropriate middle finger to those thinking terrorism will succeed.
Joshua Homme too played a solo acoustic set. Despite not having the backing of the other of Queens of the Stone Age members; Homme gave ULU a rock show with Queens of the Stone Age tracks including Villains of Circumstance and Go with the Flow. Homme also covered Dean Martin’s Memories are made of this. This made the crowd emotional; who reflected on the friends and family they had and no longer had. Homme recalled the advice his “old man” gave him about the difficulties in trying to find the right way to start doing something good; the crowd cheered when he told them that A Peaceful Noise was a good start to putting into practice ones “good intentions”.
Headliner two-piece Band of Skulls offered new arrangements of their back catalogue including Himalayan and Nightmares with acoustic guitars and a four-piece string set offering a haunting but a strangely tranquil sound. It would be interesting to see Band of Skulls perfect these arrangements in venues such as St Pancras Old Church or Union Chapel. With the exception of Homme, all the other acts then re-joined the stage with Band of Skulls as a supergroup to perform John Lennon’s Instant Karma amidst a backdrop of the names of all those who lost their lives in Paris in November 2015.
So did A Peaceful Noise fulfil its agenda? YES! It sold out! Money was raised for two worthy charities. People came together peacefully in defiance of terrorism. High calibre artists and up and coming artists came together to put on a great live show. Most importantly, albeit unconventionally (with a tribute of a minute of applause), Nick Alexander and the other 88 people who lost their lives at the Bataclan Theatre were remembered with dignity and respect.