In one of my first posts entitled Telling Stories, I spoke about the sad news of the passing away of Jon Brookes. Jon had collapsed whilst performing on stage in America to be later diagnosed with a Brain Tumour. Jon battled through treatment and was able to rejoin the band and take to the stage again in 2012. We learnt of his death the day after I asked my partner to marry me and the emotions felt that moment were simply numbing. We met Jon before The Charlatans performed in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival in August 2012 and would describe him as a down to earth, honest, friendly, hard working family man who was clearly enjoying the dream of being part of a successful band. Jon was their drummer and he quite simply blew us away with his performance during the gig that we were fortunate to witness from the front row that August night. Three weeks after that performance Jon’s condition suddenly worsened and he never fully recovered again.
Tim Burgess and Friends hosted an evening last night (Friday 18th October) to celebrate his life. It was also a fitting stage to highlight the devastation that Brain Cancer has on families all across the world. The stage was as grand as could be hoped for with The Royal Albert Hall showcasing this emotional event. The journey time from our front door to arriving on our seats was little more than two hours, which considering it was a Friday night in peak travel time, was delightful. There has been talk of further trips into London now we’ve realized how quick the journey takes.
This was our first visit to the Royal Albert Hall and from the moment we entered it, I could feel the expectation and history generated from its structure. It just has one of those atmospheres which is hard to explain. The circular corridors were graced by photographs of previous performances including Elton John and Kiki Dee right through to Sir Cliff Richard. Despite it’s age, the building was looking very very grand and all the intricate detail in the architecture was a delight to view.
We went to the Elgar Room where there was a bar area and purchased a couple of reasonably priced ales. In the corner of this open room, there was a striking gloss red piano on a small stage which could only draw your attentions to it. We then made way to our seats in anticipation of the nights offerings and celebration of Jon’s life.
Adrian Chiles was the MC for the night and his shared love of West Bromwich Albion was the obvious link to Tim Burgess. The opening performance came from Birmingham based band Dumb. Dumb were managed by Jon Brookes and their four song set was clearly full of emotion for the man who had given them a chance to succeed. It’s not every day you get to perform at a venue like this, it’s such a shame and tragedy it’s under these circumstances.
One of the most memorable performances of the night was then to follow as Tim Burgess performed with members of The Vaccines and New Order. Tim who needed the aid of written down song words to sing with both bands performed a breathtaking rendition of New Orders classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” which brought the near capacity crowd to its feet.
The Chemical Brothers performed a live DJ set in between acts on the night which kept the energy levels up on a night full of emotion. There was a video presented by the Brain Tumour Charity which showed real life families coming to terms with the effects this terrible disease has or has had on them. It was at this moment I could feel a real lump in my throat as it hit me right then how fortunate I am. This important charity was set up by a family who lost their 16 year old daughter to a Brain Tumour after realising there wasn’t a specific charity set up to research this Cancer. If you wish to donate after reading my blog their site is at:- http://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/donate
James Dean Bradfield then took to the stage to perform an Acoustic set. The Manic Street Preachers front man delivered an almost haunting version of “If you tolerate this” and an equally emotion filled performance of the classic ” A design for life”
Liam Gallagher followed with support from Bonehead and others and delivered two 90’s Oasis classics. “Live Forever” was a fitting choice of song and one of my all time favorite Oasis tracks as well as “Supersonic” Liam certainly delivered and it was great to see them turn out in support of Jon.
It was only fitting that this amazing night of celebration was brought to a close by the three guys who have really felt the loss of Jon Brookes. The Charlatans performed an hour long set with classics included such as “North Country Boy” and “One to Another” it was another emotion filled set and one that brought the crowd once more back to their feet.
It was a truly amazing night and one that we will never forget. Jon’s wife wrote a piece that Adrian Chiles read out, thanking everyone for being there and the truly devastating effects that the family have felt because of this. All in all this was a fitting tribute to Jon and one that raised the importance that there is still so much work that needs to be done to beat Brain Cancer.