Review: Performers rally for Chesterfield mayor’s charity concert

While the nation gets hooked on another series of Britain’s Got Talent, entertainers proved that you don’t need to go very far to find stars in the making.

Chesterfield is bursting with gifted performers who form a chart-topping crew when it comes to helping good causes.

Cllr Paul Stone, mayor of Chesterfield

Cllr Paul Stone, mayor of Chesterfield

The Mayor’s Charity Appeal concert in the town’s Winding Wheel last night (Wednesday, April 23) was bursting with goodwill and generosity as entertainers shared their music, songs and magic free of charge.

Ticket sales and proceeds of a raffle raised around £400 to help swell the funds of three deserving causes: the Nenna Kind cancer centre’s bus which helps to transport Chesterfield borough residents to 10,000 radiotherapy appointments at Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital every year, Hope Springs Recovery Centre which supports people aiming to conquer drink and drug addictions and food banks which help to nourish families on low incomes.

If ever there was a sign of a town pulling together, this concert was it. The Mayor of Chesterfield, Cllr Paul Stone, had just 23 days to put the whole show together. Like the song, he got by with a little help from his friends and ended up with a line-up of performers which was three times bigger than originally advertised! The mayor was helped in no small part by the show’s compere George O’Neil from community radio station Elastic FM and associates from Chesterfield Borough Council.

The programme reflected a diverse, multi-talented range of performers from across the borough - some of which would definitely stand a good chance on Britain’s Got Talent.

Opening up the show, Lee Holland was every inch a grade A performer with an impressive voice and rapport with the audience. Setting the bar high, his three-song set including Flying Without Wings and My Girl and showed off the talent which he shares with much bigger audiences around the country as singer with “the UK’s number one Take That tribute band.”

Compere George said that many people believed high winds had removed the hands from the Crooked Spire clock but it was Lee’s voice which had blown them off!

Next up was homegrown Houdini Roy Stone who condensed a half-hour trick involving shackles, padlocks and a large mail bag into eight minutes. While he managed to escape the confines of the locked sack and rid himself of manacles in the process, trying to magic a signed £10 note out of the barrel of a padlock proved a little more tricky!

One of the borough’s longest-established choirs, Carolare, entered into the community spirit of the night, minus their musical director Andy Booth who was conducting singers in Carnegie Hall, New York, and with the ensemble depleted due to babysitting and other domestic duties. They kicked off the first of two sets with Down By The Riverside, which wasn’t as tight as it could have been, but Life Is A Cabaret went some way to making amends. Their second set had a religious theme running through the songs and suited their voices much better; I particularly enjoyed the treatment of All Things Bright and Beautiful.

Crooked Catz from Old Whittington were among the star turns of the evening, revving up the crowd with feel good songs made popular by iconic singers such as Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Johnny Cash. The guitar, upright bass and drum combo even threw in a touch of 80s rockabilly with the little-known Starry Eyes from The River Boys. It’s rare to find a band which boasts three vocalists, but, boy, can the lads in Crooked Catz sing as they swing.

Rachel Riley, the winner of Chesterfield’s Got Talent 2010, gave a performance worthy of a champion in yet another highlight of the concert. This awesome singer’s voice sent tingles through your body and raised the roof of the Winding Wheel. Her short, but sweet, set included To Love Somebody, Hallelujah and First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

Fresh from a tour of Nottinghamshire, singer Jeannie Ross achieved the distinction of inspiring members of the audience to get up and dance for the first time. She got the audience onside from the start as they clapped along to Come Fly With Me, smooched along to Cupid and bopped to Fly Me To The Moon in a repertoire of good, old-fashioned songs which were well performed.

While most of the entertainers had played it safe up to now, the evening was about to take a risky turn in the hands of Wiz Spencer, a member of the Magic Circle. According to his website, Wiz is the only person in Derbyshire to perform four-gun live Russian roulette which he demonstrated to a rapt audience. Only one of the guns was loaded with deafening, but blank ammunition, and he was about to fire three at his head depending on numbers assigned by the mayor and picked out by members of the audience. Fortunately for Wiz and his tense viewers, the Number 1 gun which he didn’t point at his head was the one which was loaded . . . phew!

Golden-voiced Katie Stewart helped to bring stress levels back down with two exquisitely performed ballads. The last time she performed her knockout version of Fields of Gold was in a boxing ring between bouts and this week’s performance was definitely worthy of the hearty round of applause she received. Katie closed the Chesterfield concert by performing one of the mayor’s favourite songs, Skyfall, from the Bond movie. Earlier in the evening, she had been performing in Sheffield.

At the end of the concert, the mayor complimented the performers as some of the greatest talent of the borough. He said: “They were nine of the best acts I have seen this year,”

GAY BOLTON