The Nick Alexander Memorial Trust is probably one of the most beautiful foundations I’ve been involved in, with its creator, Zoe Alexander, being a truly special, inspirational human being. Following the callous events at the Bataclan two years ago, Zoe tragically lost her brother Nick, and set up a foundation in his memory, putting on events to use live music to bring people together and inspire solitude and hope in the face of such evil. Saturday night at London’s ULU was an incredible occasion for A Peaceful Noise, with Band of Skulls, Frank Turner, The Libertines, Josh Homme, and False Heads coming together to put on a beautiful night of live music in aid of this foundation.
The event opened with grungy three piece False Heads, a blistering howling force on stage as per. With the name ‘Nick’ taped on Luke’s guitar which I thought was a touching addition, they smashed their set, performing to an immensely receptive and excitable audience. Their set included tracks like Retina, Slew and Wrap Up, all of which pack an intensely thrilling bite on stage, packed with this post punk grit and gravel. Luke’s riffs are so raw and impeccable, brimming with a rough post punk hostility. The bass from Jake pairs with Luke’s angst perfectly, backed up by the hectic thrashing from drummer Barney. A pleasure as always, seeing False Heads’ raucous set was a thrill. The band have a host of London dates coming up over the next month, with more exciting news for the band to be announced soon, so keep an eye out.
Following on from the gritty dark immensity of False Heads’ set, Frank Turner took to the stage to perform a beautiful stripped back acoustic set. There’s a captivating emotional resonance to his voice, each note uttered packed with something really beautifully charming and raw. The stripped back nature allowed himself to bare something really special with the audience, the entire night for that matter having a very personal aura. Josh Homme followed, his intimate set one of the most surreal things I’ve experienced. Queens of The Stone Age have always been a next level, god-like band, so
Josh playing such a special acoustic gig in a very intimate and personal setting really was special. His essence is just unreal; on stage he was very personal and humorous in between songs, making little jokes and sarcastic comments which was highly engaging. His voice is absolutely unbelievable, and the stripped back nature of his set put a strong emphasis on this. There’s a wonderful rich dynamism to his voice, full of the pure grit and intense, deeply smooth power. Each ad-lib he sang was perfect, his vocal range reflecting the riffs being played on his guitar. The way he played the guitar was mind-blowingly immaculate, coming across as stunningly natural and second nature to him. His set included stunning renditions of tracks like Go With The Flow, which had an impeccably different sound done acoustically rather than with the rest of the band. The final act of the night were Band of Skulls, who took to the stage to perform what turned out to be highly emotional set. Another stripped back acoustic
performance, Russell and Emma took to that stage accompanied by a small orchestra which added a wonderfully rich theatrical element to the set. Their vocals work stunningly together, with a Liza Anne bluesy rock feel, very atmospheric and powerful on stage. The harrowing nature of the stripped back acoustic sets gave the whole gig a stunning feel, with a very emotive feel of intimacy and closeness set in the foundations of the night. Their set ended beautifully, with a cover of John Lennon’s Instant Karma! (We All Shine On). Frank Turner came on stage to play guitar and sing alongside the band, with Luke and Jake of False Heads singing backup vocals and Barney playing the drums. Zoe herself was on stage singing along to the track too, and something during this performance just clicked and I started crying; it was such an emotional night, as music is the one thing that unites and brings people together, which is why the Bataclan attack, and subsequent terror attacks like the Manchester bomb and Mandalay Bay Las Vegas shooting, have been so harrowing and horrific. Nick himself had been working as the merch salesman for Eagles of Death Metal on the night it happened. It was heart-breaking, and still to this day breaks my heart as a gig should be the safest most comfortable place ever, not a place of danger or a potential space for such callous brutality. Yet what Zoe proved on Saturday evening was that evil will always fail, and all music can do is inspire solitude by bringing people together and sparking unity and love.
With Gary and Carl from The Libertines present for a DJ set after the gig, alongside such other legends within the industry, the night truly was a beautiful event, with all the money raised going towards such an important and wonderful Foundation to exist. Please take a moment to visit the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust website here, and donate a small amount if you wish.
©Photo credit to Alan Wells