The Party on the Pitch concert saw Alexandra Burke, Scouting for Girls and The Saturdays perform to thousands of people at Leyton Orient stadium on Saturday 19 May.
Party on the Pitch is one of Waltham Forest council’s ‘Big 6′ events during the Olympic year, and it ultimately went down as a success. Opening up the day’s performances was Mizz Camara, a talented teenager who rather unexpectedly played the trumpet as well as singing during her short set. She is someone with a bright future, and one to watch.
Next up were Kaleidisco, a sort of rainbow-infused Eurodisco act who rather sent us scurrying towards the bar. By the time Cover Drive came on, however, the festival was filling up nicely. Cover Drive are a four-piece band from Barbados, and their single ‘Twilight’ recently went to Number 1 in the UK. They were very polished, and support slots with the likes of Rhianna and Kelly Clarkson should see them break through to the mainstream festival circuit very soon.
We at Stow Scene do like a bit of pop, so we were very excited about seeing The Saturdays. Performing as a four piece due to Una Healy’s maternity leave, ‘The Sats’ didn’t disappoint. They’re a band who have in many ways found their level – they’re never going to be Girls Aloud, but they comfortably played for about 40 minutes with a set packed with hits. ‘Ego’ and ‘Forever is Over’ were highlights, and they rather charmed the crowd with their on-stage banter.
Street dance act Unity UK got a rousing reception, and it was good to see at least one Waltham Forest-based act at the festival. Alexandra Burke followed shortly afterwards, opening her set with one of our favourites, ‘Broken Heels’. She played what seemed to be a fairly stripped down performance, with only a couple of backing singers and not much of a light show, but the crowd were loving it. An acoustic version of ‘Hallelujah’ was our highlight of the set, but I never really got a sense that Alexandra Burke herself was having much fun onstage. Still, everyone danced to ‘Bad Boys’ (no appearance by Flo Rida for the rap bit, sadly) to create a genuinely fun festival moment.
Scouting for Girls were the last band to perform, although by this point quite a few people had left to either take the kids home or go and watch Didier Drogba break the hearts of Bayern Munich and Tottenham fans everywhere. The Keane-lite singalong pop/rock outfit had the best stage show of the day, and when they get the audience going, Scouting for Girls are a decent festival band. It was a fitting end to the day.
We enjoyed Party on the Pitch. It was free, which means of course that it was paid for by the council, and therefore by the taxpayer. No one wants council-sponsored pop music, and this obviously wasn’t a sustainable long-term investment in the arts in Waltham Forest. Waltham Forest Council is two years into a twenty-year ‘Culture Strategy’ (called ‘Taking Our Place in London’, downloadable here), and it’s not clear how the priorities in this document are being pursued. However, if one accepts that a Local Authority has a role in funding arts and culture (rather than, say, simply putting the whole budget into delivering services), then an event like this is something which probably appeals to as broad a spectrum of people as any art ever can.
On the day, lots of people were there, singing along and having a good time – which is what pop music should be about.