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What's old, lies dormant for years then suddenly makes a big rumbling sound?; The Wright Stuff; AT THE MACCA &Co CHARITY GIG.

As eruptions go, the Montserrat Charity Concert took a while to reach boiling point.

But by the end of the night, the place was close to meltdown as the world's biggest stars came together for a white-hot finale.

Led by Sir Paul McCartney, a supergroup consisting of Elton John, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Sting charged through The Beatles' classic Hey Jude.

They were joined by Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, pianist Jools Holland and 4,500 jubilant fans for a landmark in pop history.

I doubt anything like it will be seen again - between them they're worth a hefty pounds 870 million.

I suspect a fire in London's Royal Albert Hall on Monday night would have done more damage to the insurance industry than 10 Montserrat volcanic explosions.

That's not to make light of the terrible disaster that has all but buried the Caribbean isle during recent weeks.

But while politicians sat around talking about the tragedy one man - Beatles producer Sir George Martin - actually did something.

He asked for help from pop pals who'd recorded at his famous Air Studios on Montserrat - now buried under a crust of lava.

And judging by the faces which turned out for the charity gig in front of the Duke Of York, few refused.

Fans - most of them as old as the stars on stage - snapped up the pounds 60 tickets within minutes of them going on sale.

But it still took a while for us to go crazy when the gig finally kicked off, probably because the house-lights were left up for the entire show. Montserratian popsters Arrow kicked off proceedings with calypso hit Hot Hot Hot.

Midge Ure's Ultravox classic Vienna followed but things only started picking up with rock 'n' roll legend Carl Perkins and his hit Blue Suede Shoes.

The first standing ovation, though, went to Phil Collins who sang In The Air Tonight and then went into a bongo fury, bashing out the beat on Take Me Home.

An interval saw the rich and famous rush to the bar - I'd earlier spotted Nick Faldo, Queen guitarist Brian May, Richard Branson and Chris Tarrant mingling with ordinary fans.

The second half promised more - and delivered. Mark Knopfler's version of Brothers In Arms was, frankly, beautiful.

But the pressure really began to mount when Eric Clapton and Sting joined Knopfler for a blast through Money For Nothing. We were all on our feet by then as Eric and Mark left Sting to work his magic, belting out Message In A Bottle and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.

Sir George took the stage to introduce Elton John who brought a respectful hush to proceedings.

Your Song, Live Like Horses and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me were everything you could expect from the Rocket Man - melodic, emotional and perfectly executed.

It was hard to imagine how anyone could better his brief spot - but then it's not every night you see Eric Clapton. Strumming an acoustic guitar, Slowhand played a hypnotically haunting Change The World.

It was a shame that when Mark Knopfler joined him on electric guitar for Layla he almost drowned Eric's acoustic sound. The biggest cheer of the night was saved for Paul McCartney as the solo Beatle crooned through Yesterday. It sounded as fresh as ever.

Clapton, Collins and Knopfler waited for the applause to die before supporting Macca in his Golden Slumbers medley.

It had everyone on their feet, dancing. And that's where we stayed as Elton, Sting and Jools Holland joined the crowded stage for Hey Jude.

It went down so well Macca asked his celebrity band if they fancied one more. After a few minutes hushed debate they burst into Kansas City - catching TV crews and officials off-guard.

It might not have been Live Aid 2 but it is expected to raise close to pounds 1 million for the victims of Montserrat which can't be bad.

SET LIST

ARROW: Hot Hot Hot

MIDGE URE: Dancing With Tears In My Eyes/Vienna

CARL PERKINS: Matchbox/Blue Suede Shoes

JIMMY BUFFET: Pirates/Volcano

PHIL COLLINS: In The Air Tonight/Take Me Home

MARK KNOPFLER: Local Hero/ Brothers In Arms/Money For Nothing (with Eric Clapton and Sting)

STING: Message In A Bottle/ Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic/Fields Of Gold

ELTON JOHN: Your Song/Live Like Horses/Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

ERIC CLAPTON: Change The World/Layla (with Knopfler)/ Same Old Blues (with Knopfler)

PAUL McCARTNEY: Yesterday/ Golden Slumbers (with Collins, Knopfler and Clapton)/Hey Jude (the above plus Elton John and Sting)/Kansas City

BIN THERE, DUMP THAT

The Chinese Embassy dumped a petition signed by Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie in the bin yesterday.

The document, which calls for the release of Tibetan political prisoner, Ngawang Choephel, was delivered by ex-Eurythmic Annie Lennox and Radio 1 DJ Danny Rampling.

But when officials refused to meet the stars, they pushed it through the letterbox - only to see an embassy worker throw it into a waste-paper basket.

Alison Reynolds, of the Free Tibet Campaign, told me: "Annie was stunned.

"It reinforces what we all know - that the Chinese are impossible to talk to when it comes to human rights."

Mirror girl Zoe Ball would streak round Wembley Stadium if you paid her 20p, according to her Live And Kicking co-star Jamie Theakston.

"And if Man United were playing, she'd do a couple of laps," Jamie adds. "Zoe's not exactly shy."

Next time I watch Man Utd I'll keep my eyes out for Zoe ... and a shiny 20p in my pocket.

MEL BARES HER SOLES

Quizzed by Radio 1 DJs Mark and Lard about her frumpy clothes, Mel C snapped: "It means I don't have to get my bits out all the time."

Mel and the other Spice Girls are taking turns this week to play the lads' We Love Us quiz, in a bid to win an electric foot spa.

Just what five girls with pounds 30 million in the bank want, I'm sure.

POWER CUT?

Prodigy, Paul Weller and Cast are in line for a Christmas gig at London's Battersea Power Station.

But the council hasn't yet given the go-ahead for the bash.

Presumably they fear decibel levels produced at the bash will be too much for the crumbling edifice.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wright, Matthew
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 17, 1997
Words:1059
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