Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Uniting both song and sport, the Game4Ukraine was a principal moment of fellowship in musical history.

On Saturday 5th August 2023, Stamford Bridge (home of Chelsea Football Club) filled with spectators ready for the charity football match Game4Ukraine.

The event took place as a chance to raise money for the rebuilding of Ukrainian infrastructure after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has left much of the European country in ruins; it brought people together in a moment of pure sorrow. Not only did the match itself make for an entertaining, anticipatory and legendary event, the musical performances brought an incredible atmosphere to the day.

With swaying bodies and tapping feet and from the poetic sound of Pete Doherty to the vocal power of Chrissie Hyde from The Pretenders, it truly was a display of glory. 

As spectators arrived dressed in blue and yellow with the Ukranian flag painted on many faces around the stadium, there was an air of excitement and togetherness already. With a cause like this, one that touches hearts all over the world, it is hard to imagine a scenario with any other initial atmosphere. We had an introductory DJ set from the legendary Mel C and such was the perfect chance to hype up the public and subsequently increase the levels of enthusiasm for the day. The set allowed for a great segway as time moved from the arrivals to the beginning of the main event; the football match. 

The first half commenced, substitutions were made and a goal ruled offside in these first 45 minutes before the next group of performances began. To initiate this next set of acts, Pete Doherty proved his poetic and musical backgrounds transfer perfectly between one another. He initially sang in Ukrainian with the melody alone grasping the attention of the entire stadium as the players exited the pitch for halftime; this moment was incredibly poignant within the day itself. His music has always been a vocal embrace and, at times like these especially, it was a beautiful and somewhat necessary addition to the day. 

The final performance before the second half was set to begin was by none other than singer-songwriter Tom Walker. His performance was paradoxical in a way, with power in the vulnerability of his vocals complementing the intense but soft strumming of his guitar onstage; this provided spectators with a sense of togetherness in a time of crisis. We heard how conflicting dynamics join to create a beautiful sound, and the exceptional levels of passion with which he performed. His live performance differed little from the recorded versions of his creations, except that we could visibly see the passion through his facial expressions and therefore the raw love he has for what he does. 

At an event not occurring for music alone, this first set of performances proved that the art of music really is universal, and can contribute to any public event with prestige and amplitude. 

After an exciting second half in which the teams ended in a draw of two goals each, emotions were high and the atmosphere quickly became one of great fellowship amongst spectators and players alike. Soon after,  the performance by Tom Grennan commenced, and it was a magnificent show. With cheering and signing, swaying and smiling, his initial message of standing together through his first song was truly a sound to relish in. The melodic and calming feeling he implemented in the crowd had parents and children, lovers and friends standing together to demonstrate how power comes from the people, and the strength we hold as human beings against conflict. The uplifting nature of his second track did not for one second diminish the sentimental atmosphere initially created, it simply added a sense of uplift to the crowd. The performance demonstrated wonderfully the artist’s passion for his craft, whilst the sounds of the crowd confirmed his talents and unique ability to involve each and every spectator. 

Bringing the day to a phenomenal close, The Pretenders immediately had everyone on their feet, cheering and whistling in favour of their musical abilities. Not only was their stage presence as outstanding as anticipated, the dynamism that the instruments carried was perfectly blended together; they made waves as the tempo adjusted between the first and second songs seamlessly. the natural cohesion within the group was very apparent on stage as they were evidently enjoying themselves as much as the crowd were, and their set ended with the final blast of yellow and blue smoke on the pitch. Their performance rounded the day off perfectly, as both internal and external displays of hope, joy, solidarity and union followed. 

Overall, an immensely special day and one to be remembered for all its qualities. The feeling of anticipation as the spectators gathered to watch legendary players and celebrities compete for the title of champion, the mexican waves and chants of encouragement and delight, it was truly a remarkable experience. Each musical set stood brilliantly alone and in conjunction with one another, thus creating this space of safety and support in the crowd- a beautiful sentiment for the cause. 

Abby Price 


Image: Abby Price

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