Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Michael Simning Benefit Concert

Written for Gwangju News

The response to the Facebook campaign to find B- donors for Michael Simning was astonishing. Despite the fact that he’s arguably the most widely known member of the foreigner community and certainly one of the most loved, few could have anticipated just how quickly word spread and how great the response would be. The momentum continued on Saturday night. The turnout at A Fundraising Concert for Michael Simning at the GFN Concert Hall was phenomenal.

GFN radio host and Speakeasy Pub Quiz maestro Pete Ross was compère for the evening, offering watershed friendly quips throughout: a shock to the system of anyone who has heard him behind the mic on a Thursday night. The music of the night was of an impressively high standard. Local rockers Deserts kicked off, offering a more stripped down version of their stuff that the Gwangju public may have been used to. An accordion added to the ambience of the occasion, as Deserts showed they have versatility, too. Next up, was an artist known only as Herb, playing a number of enjoyable clarinet tunes.

Elton Laclare, a close friend of Michael, was next to take the stage. At pains to distance himself from the “slightly irksome piano music”, Elton’s open letter to Mike was both moving and amusing. He praised his renowned sense of humour, whilst also making reference to his repertoire of party tricks, the legend of which is growing by the hour. I get the feeling that Mike’s going to be a busy guy when he’s back in business.

A choreographed light display, spelling out messages to Michael was delivered by the staff of GFN and they were followed on by the barefoot Andrea and Trevor, who you may have seen playing on the city’s streets. Despite not being from Newfoundland, their first number is an ode to the Canadian province. Andrea’s first attempt at playing the tin flute on stage went according to plan and the pair’s harmonies were nothing short of sumptuous. The folkies’ second song was written for the occasion and so fresh, it’s yet to be christened, but its message of longing and hope was one that resonated with the well-wishers in attendance, delivered as it was in fine style.

A montage of photographs showing Mike with friends and families brought a chuckle from the crowd, leading into penultimate musical performance of the night. Caleb Frost, sat at the piano, has a voice reminiscent of Bob Dylan. His songs, all original, are thoughtfully written and impressively delivered and he was a welcome addition to the line-up. A vox-pop of greetings for Mike was shown, before the main event: a video message from the man himself. In a short, yet emotional recording, he thanked everyone for their contribution and reported good news on his treatment, which doctors say has been going even better than they expected. It brought the biggest ovation of the night, and one which even Pete Ross’ accompanied version of Stand By Me couldn’t trump.

All in, it was an excellent night’s entertainment, in aid of a good cause. I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing Michael all the best and a speedy recovery.

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