Slash and politics. It’s not an obvious combination but the worlds of rock music and Parliament came together earlier this week when the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist played a special acoustic gig at the House of Commons.
The brainchild of Mike Weatherley, the Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade, the show took place at the Terrace Bar in front of 200 people who listened to the musician play a five-song set (including Sweet Child O’Mine and Fall to Pieces) accompanied by vocalist Myles Kennedy.
But Slash isn’t the first act to fill the chambers of Westminster with music. Here are a selection of performers who have rocked the Houses of Parliament…
Westminster’s politicians had a Wonderful Night last year when Fatboy Slim became the first DJ to perform at the House of Commons. British musician Norman Cook played at Parliament as a support act for the winner of the House the House competition – a parliamentary contest for 16-25 year olds in conjunction with the Last Night a DJ Saved My Life charity to promote unsigned DJ talent. Speaking at the time, the Brighton-based musician said, “I’ve played some exciting and unique places around the world but playing in the House of Commons might be the most unique to date.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU-xvO_vrfk
Back in 2002, Parliament’s new office building, Portcullis House, swapped select committees for soul singing when US music artist Alicia Keys was invited by Labour’s David Lammy to deliver a one-off performance. The youngest MP at the time asked along the Grammy Award-winner to make Parliament “a little bit more modern, a bit more hip, a bit more relevant to people of my generation and the young people of this country.”
During her two-hour performance, Keys treated MPs and children from two schools based in Lammy’s Tottenham constituency to her first hit single Fallin’ as well as classics such as Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, before duetting with 16-year-old GCSE student, Careen Green.
Back in January 2010, Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, followed in his wife’s footsteps in an attempt to help Parliament “reconnect” with modern Britain. No, he did not pack his bags for the Celebrity Big Brother house – that really would be ill-advised. Instead he gave permission for Scottish band Biffy Clyro to play a half-hour concert on the Commons terrace overlooking the River Thames.
The gig marked the first anniversary of the launch of Absolute Radio and its 200-strong audience mixed comedian and radio presenter Frank Skinner with a healthy smattering of MPs. Organised by Maldon and Chelmsford East MP John Whittingdale, the concert marked the first time a rock band had played at Parliament. Singer Simon Neil described the event as “very surreal” before adding that the setting was, “the weirdest place we’ve ever played.”
Here are the band chatting to Absolute Radio’s Christian O’Connell ahead of the gig:
Back in October 2009, Ralph McTell was honoured at the House of Commons in a special awards ceremony to celebrate his lifetime’s contribution to folk music. The Streets of London singer became only the second recipient of such an award (the first being Tom Paxton) as MPs, Peers from the All Party Parliamentary Folk Music Group and Radio 2 gathered to honour the singer-songwriter. Following a tribute from MP Alan Keen, Ralph took to the stage to perform a set that included his iconic Streets of London tune.
When you think of UK politicians, the image that springs to mind does not immediately feature a guitar-playing, music-loving rock band, does it? But MP4 – comprising of Kevin Brennan MP, former MP Ian Cawsey, The Rt Hon Greg Knight MP and Pete Wishart MP – does just that.
Since forming in 2004, the four-piece have raised half a million pounds for charity and boast a fan base that includes Tony Blair, David Cameron and Ed Milliband. Phwoar.
They’ve played a number of gigs for the political crowd in Westminster, including New Year’s Eve concerts on the Terrace of the House of Commons in 2010 and 2011, as well as an historic performance in May 2012 at the 900-year-old Westminster Hall – the oldest building on the UK parliamentary estate and the setting for the trial of King Charles I.
Here they are performing Look Back in Anger at the Speaker’s House during the launch of their first album, Cross Party: