REVIEW: Queen’s Head Amnesty International Benefit Concert

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The Queens Head Pub in Belper was the setting for an Amnesty International Benefit Concert, with proceeds going towards their ‘Poverty and Dignity’ campaign. Playing at the benefit concert were local bands Rule of Thumb, Hot Rybena and John Vale.

The exuberant night of folk and reggae music was a perfect fit for both the venue and the cause. Amnesty International, which seeks to protect human rights around the world, came to the fore recently by supporting the Russian Punk band Pussy Riot. The ‘Free Pussy Riot’ campaign called for the release of the band who they consider to be ‘prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs’. Protesting through song has a long history in folk music, something that Amnesty knows well having developed a set of resources on the subject for schools.

On an evening which asked people to stand up for human rights, there was still room for a bit of banter between the bands and the audience. Despite one interruption by a particularly noisy member of the crowd the Belper band Rule of Thumb, who are Rob Bartlett and Ed Hulse, played a strong set, harmoniously mixing traditional with modern folk tunes.

And then came Ska/Reggae band Hot Rybena who closed the night by offering up their own quirky take on the songs of Maroon 5, Bob Marley and more. Were they rough around the edges? Yes, but for a young band they showed a lot of soul and promise. Personally, I would have paid the £5 entry fee alone just to hear their version of Mumford & Sons ‘Lion Man’ sans banjo.

So whilst there may not have been a great deal of original music on the night, all the artists fired through their sets with heaps of energy and musical flare. It was thought-provoking, it was fun, but above all else it showed that as small town we can make a big difference.

Ed Sills