Not that I wasn’t expecting it to be good you understand. But the organisers had only seven days to come up with everything from venue, ticketing and marketing right through to the performers!
By all accounts, they weren’t short of entertainers who wanted to be involved. It must have been a feat in itself to come up with a shortlist! How incredible that so many artists were available to give up their time at such short notice, and were begging to be involved in such a worthy cause!
The Costa del Sol came out in their finery, but more importantly in force to support the Fire Aid Concert. Marbella’s Hotel Puente Romano Andalucia Ballroom was bursting at the seams when we arrived to take our seats and it was great to see so many friendly faces who had made the effort to attend. It was quite overwhelming. Tickets sold out to such an extent that extras had to be released to cope with demand. And even more friends were spotted helping out behind the scenes and front of house. A true vision of the Costa del Sol pulling together in a time of need.
Two of those tireless helpers hidden away behind the scenes were producers Steve Shappelle and Helena Paul who were responsible for pulling all the acts together to create a variety performance worthy of honouring the Services who fought together to put out the fires and evacuate the affected areas.
We couldn’t help but remember why we were there when tenor Stephen Lloyd Morgan opened the show with a haunting rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, accompanied by the beautiful ballerina Tania Rahmany from the Marbella Stage School. I defy anyone in the audience not to have felt a shiver trickle through their bones or goosebumps raise on their skin. It set the scene for a truly memorable evening ahead.
A video had been produced collating the various images and short films displayed on Facebook during and since the fire and this montage was played on large screens while the Fire Choir, especially formed for the concert, joined Stephen Lloyd Morgan on the stage. That was enough to quieten anyone but then came the highlight, for me at any rate. As representatives from the National Police and Local Police took to the stage with one of the Military pilots (Captain Juan Rodriguez) who had been instrumental in extinguishing the fires by risking his life flying amongst the flames and collecting water from the sea and reservoirs nearby, the audience rose as one, many fighting back the tears, to applaud their bravery. It took your breath away. Later we found out that he had a two month old baby. What a guy!
Representatives of the Red Cross regions of Marbella, Mijas and Coin were also in attendance and spoke to thank everyone for their donations of goods and money to help those caught up in the fires.
Tres Divos were the next act to perform and were as wonderful (and handsome) as they always are (I confess to probably watching and swaying with my jaw on the floor as per usual). Then came a band who were new to me, Dirty Little Secrets – why haven’t I heard them before? Everyone was soon singing along and tapping their feet to Mamma Mia, Whisky in the Jar and Purple Rain. I thoroughly enjoyed their performance (despite the really annoying woman sitting next to me dancing and singing far too enthusiastically in her seat – she’d either drunk too much Red Bull or didn’t get out much. Pet peeve of mine is when I can hear the person sitting next to me singing louder than the artist I’ve paid to see!).
Maurice Boland and his co-host Nicole King popped up occassionally between the acts and Nicole has to be especially commended for managing to interpret Maurice’s Irish paragraphs into succinct Spanish sentences! Very amusing!
The Fire Choir made a couple more appearances also – I was super excited to Jo Nugent (of Not Just Jazz with Jo) among the participants (and yes, Stephen Lloyd Morgan, we could see you grooving in the back row). It was a very diverse group of singers, most of whom probably don’t sing as a choir very often but Helena Paul had done a fantastic job of putting them all together, despite having only had six hours to do so!
The next incredibly extraordinary jaw dropping moment again came via the big screens as they showed a film showing fire planes fighting flames and pilots demonstrating awesome flying skills and courage. I’m so pleased the film was made available on Facebook a few days later so that I can share it with you here:
The dancing and singing that followed was very entertaining and even though it was a pretty long show (for a Monday night), they had a captive audience who were enjoying every single moment (as was I since Red Bull woman moved during the interval). I particularly enjoyed the Spanish band from Malaga, Decada Pop, singing hits from across the decades in English and Spanish – something for everyone. 2 Sopranos and a Harp sang beautifully and then Madeline Bell injected some humour before silencing the audience with her soulful vocals (accompanied by the most talented pianist/songwriter I have ever seen live – after Gary Barlow!!!).
Completing the line up at this red hot Fire Aid Concert were The Four Tops (a tribute) who rushed over from their gig in Torremolinos to show the audience how to swing their arms and bodies to hits like Acapulco and Reach Out,followed by the Coast’s favourite rock ‘n roll teddy boy, Mel Williams.
This amazing feat of organisation raised in excess of €18,000 for the Málaga Province Red Cross who will use the funds to help those needing assistance in the areas worst affected by the devastating fires that torched our beautiful landscape 30th to 31st August 2012.
Co-organiser Nick Holland-Morgan said: “I remain totally overwhelmed by the massive support kindly and generously offered; and especially a massive thank you to the over 150 volunteers & over 100 artists who all worked tirelessly, as this event simply would not have happened without them. In every respect, it truly was a concert by the people for the people.”
Those who weren’t able to make it to the concert can still donate to the Cruz Roja’s appeal via their bank account at Unicaja (quote reference “llamamiento FIRE AID CONCERT”): 2103 1001 50 0030002823