One of the largest charity concerts to date took place last weekend in Twickenham. Chime For Change was an initiative started by Gucci to support women around the globe gain equality in the fields of health, justice and education. With 82,000 tickets sold and a global television audience of one billion, all eyes were on London and the star studded line up.
It began with the walking advertisement of supposed individuality Jessie J, sporting a bald head and hot pants, she strutted around stage warbling her hit singles which provoked singalongs with the crowd. An obviously talented singer with a habit of over complicating literally everything.
After some rousing words from founder Salma Hayek Pinault about the importance of female independence, Iggy Azalea was welcomed to the stage dressed like a barbie doll and accompanied by six scantily clad dancers who slut dropped their way through her performance as she exclaimed to women everywhere she had been ‘working on my shit’. Not perhaps the message they had in mind.
Hysteria gripped the crowd as James Franco & Jessica Chastain spoke about the importance of charity before Rita Ora bounded onto the stage. She is easily one of the worst live performers I have ever seen, how she managed to be on stage for fifteen minutes without singing one entire verse of a song is really quite astounding. Next up was Italian songstress Laura Pausini. The camera helped to point out she had some die hard fans in the audience baring signs, flags and balloons. I felt sorry for them as she only had two songs, I can only pray their flights were cheap.
The preppy Blake Lively then introduced another film about female equality before introducing her dear friend, Florence + the Machine. Finally a performer I wanted to see. Florence has become something of an icon. As the strings began in ‘You’ve Got the Love’, she induced pandemonium within the crowd by the simple lifting of her hands. Performing a largely acoustic set, her voice shone on ‘Over The Love’ and ‘Dog Days are Over’, making 82,000 jump in unison as Florence skipped around the stage like an ethereal Renaissance painting brought to life.
The Witch of the West herself, Madonna, then took to the stage to exclaim she was starting a new revolution. She told the crowd to ‘listen to me’ and was generally off putting. Every time she tried an expressional facial movement it appeared her skull was going to collapse under the botox, awkward. John Legend was next and performed a strong set with a personal highlight of ‘Ordinary People’.
New kids on the block Haim put in a brilliant job, with a passionate onstage energy. The platform they were provided was priceless. Next up was J-Lo. I braced myself for the flourish of campness, as she is the epitome of trashy but she makes it work. A medley of her ‘greatest hits’ went down spectacularly, including the infamous ‘Jenny from the block’. Her duet with Mary J Blige luckily saved her show; before that it resembled drunk middle aged woman on X-factor who still thinks it’s acceptable to dry hump the stage.
Feet now burning, I was excited for Ellie but no, the most pathetic performer of the day Timbaland bumbled onto the stage, anyone remember him? Me neither. His 20 minute set consisted of backing tracks and the occasional ‘yea’ before he left the stage with the audacity to exclaim ‘that’s how you do a show’. I’m sure Florence and Beyonce were sat side stage with their notepads.
Ellie Goulding finally appeared, performing a brilliant performance of ‘Anything Could Happen’ and a grimy ‘Lights’ which went down a storm in the stadium. It was a shame she was restricted to the wings but compromises must be made for Queen Bey. My shoes now felt like they were full of blood after standing for seven hours, but it was time for the main act, the legendary Beyonce.
The iconic performer did not disappoint. I hadn’t seen her play live before, and her voice is as smooth as warm honey. The cover of Etta James’ ‘At Last’ was sensational, before she launched into classics such as ‘Irreplaceable’ and ‘Single Ladies’. The highlight was the addition of Jay Z on ‘Crazy In Love’ as he tenderly rubbed his wife’s stomach before leaving. So after the queueing, the divas and the tragic films, I can safely say Chime For Change was an incredibly enjoyable event with a diverse selection of performers and a world class headliner. It was altogether for a truly worthy cause. Shame Twickenham train station wasn’t quite as organised.