WHEN Big Ian Donaghy shouted “See you next year!”, as he and the team took their final bow to a standing ovation at A Night To Remember on February 29 2020, they could never have envisaged what was just around the corner.
“A total lockdown. Schools closed. The only place to get a beer was your fridge and theatres stood in darkness because apparently ‘The show mustn’t go on’,” he laments. “Guitars were forbidden to come out of their cases for more than 500 day as crowds at gigs were deemed far more ‘dangerous’ than those watching sport.”
Roll on to 7.30pm, September 8 2022 and, thankfully, the return of A Night To Remember, the charity fundraising concert at York Barbican.
“It will be 922 days since this unique group of performers has shared a stage to bring the community together and they promise to live up the name A Night To Remember more than ever,” vows organiser and master of ceremonies Big Ian, whose skills as a speaker and host are in demand at such venues as Birmingham NEC and ExCel, London.
“Over the years, these nights have taken community charity gigs to another level as every detail is focused on giving the York audience a night they deserve. No corner is cut for this unique event, from brilliant sound from Craig Rothery, through thought-provoking films on huge video walls, to a 30-piece band.
“On top of that, this year’s concert has been sponsored by Nimbuscare, who have provided invaluable support in putting on this event.”
The format is “unlike others shows”, says Big Ian, as it requires “everyone to guest on everyone else’s songs with a wall of harmony”.
“No other show has an 83-year age range in performers from 13 to 96 year olds. Previous years saw the line-up take on the near impossible and succeed with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, despite never playing it together beforehand. Somehow it came together!
“A Night To Remember is like Avengers Assemble as the unlikely bunch have now become more like family after eight years together.”
In the 30-piece house band will be members of York party band Huge; Jess Steel; Heather Findlay; Beth McCarthy, on her return to her home city from London; Simon Snaize; Gary Stewart; Graham Hodge; The Y Street Band; Boss Caine; Las Vegas Ken; Kieran O’Malley and young musicians from York Music Forum, all led by George Hall and Ian Chalk.
Singer and choir director Jessa Liversidge will present her inclusive singing group, Singing For All, who previously took part in 2020.
The setlist will take in songs by Kate Bush, Queen, Paul Simon, Wham, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, The Bee Gees, Elvis Presley, Bill Withers, Take That, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Alanis Morisette.
“Now in its eighth outing, A Night To Remember promises to be an evening of singalongs as the city sings with one voice to raise much-needed funds for St Leonard’s Hospice, Bereaved Children Support York and Accessible Arts and Media, who get people with learning difficulties into performing,” says Big Ian.
“This has become the UK’s largest live concert to raise dementia awareness and will be funding some bespoke dementia projects in York, including art classes with York artist Sue Clayton and singing and gardening groups to combat loneliness.”
Two weeks ago, Big Ian took the challenge with four friends to sell 1,000 tickets for the show in one day. “Somehow we achieved it,” he says. “Now we can’t wait to get everyone back together. Expect a night filled with emotion and fantastic music.
“There are some tickets left but be quick to book at www.yorkbarbican.co.uk, and we ask everyone to bring a raffle prize, if possible, and some money for raffle tickets. Who knows how much we can add to the £150,000 we’ve raised since we started these concerts?
“Remember, remember, the 8th of September, not just a night, but A Night To Remember!”