ABLE2UK – The Accessible Concert – is an event which promotes easier access to concerts for disabled music fans.
With the messages and videos displayed throughout the night that just because a person is disabled they are still ‘able2’ do anything, it celebrated people currently living with disabilities who had overcome barriers to achieve remarkable things.
Hosted by Gail Porter, the event had numerous video messages of support from a range of A-list stars, such as Frank Turner, Chris Martin, Annie Mac, Chris Moyles and Mark Wahlberg.
The organisers DF Concerts and Events who produced the event on behalf of ABLE2UK introduced a number of measures to assist in making the concert as comfortable as possible for the audience including the introduction of an onstage BSL signing interpreter, a ramped viewing platform and clear walkways to make it easier to access toilets and bars.
The O2 Academy Glasgow, which hosted the concert, opened an hour earlier than usual to allow the audience plenty of time to get themselves comfortable before the entertainment began and upon entering the venue a message is projected from Elton John wishing the concert well and apologising for not making the event.
Home-grown Glaswegian band, Prides, are first to take to the stage. With drummer, Lewis Gardiner, absent, Stewart Brock and Callum Wiseman alter their usual synthpop sound into a more delicate acoustic session, joking the setup is down to their instruments breaking and insist the keyboard and guitar they have onstage is all they have left. Keen for a sing-along, the boys transform the large hall into a homely pub with their intimate performance.
Next up was Kodaline where lead singer Steve Garrigan grabs the microphone and kicks off with I’m Ready, getting everyone in the party mood.
Before headliner Hozier takes the stage, Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts and Events takes the stage and introduces the other man behind the event – Howard Thorpe the founder of ABLE2UK. Howard gives praise to all those involved in helping him hold the event as well as the bands who played for the eager audience. A truly inspirational figure, Howard has dedicated himself to helping those with disabilities and thanked the loved ones in his life who supported him daily and encouraged us to do the same.
Closing the night, accompanied by a six-piece band, is the mighty Hozier. Introducing soulful howls during instrumental breaks, he encourages the audience to imitate his cries, chuckling affectionately when we don’t sing back as well as he may have expected. Most notably, Hozier covers the Beatles’ Blackbird, he makes it his own by bending the rhythm into a funky style.
The success of the concert is undeniable and the atmosphere is electric as the house lights go up. Hopefully ABLE2 will make this an annual event and continue to encourage everyone to attend more concerts.