ACCORDING to Mark Cotton it shouldn’t work.
But the Notts firefighter is now readying himself for the sixth Concert For Life at Rock City.
And why shouldn’t it work? Because it’s at the 1,750 capacity Rock City, more used to international bands than a collection of local talent -- most of who are tribute bands.
And it’s put together by non-professionals, like Mark and his co-organiser Ben Hicklin.
“Of course we put a lot of work in, we have a lot of help, a lot of support from companies but I still don’t know why it works so well every year,” admits Mark.
For a second year the funds from Concert For Life will go to Billy’s Appeal, named after Billy Greenall who was just three when he was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour. He is now eight.
The initial target was £2m to provide a place in Nottingham where families could stay while their children were being treated for cancer. Billy’s House opened in Derby Road near the QMC last summer.
It is run by cancer charity CLIC Sargent, which has six others across the country.
“We’re raising money to keep the place running,” says Mark, who set up The Julie Cotton Foundation after losing his wife to cancer in 2001.
This year features Madness tribute Baggy Trousers (the only non-local act on), plus U2 tribute ZU2, The Nathan Wall Band who play Kings Of Leon/Killers songs, plus Mercury: A Tribute To Queen.
“Mercury are a pretty big tribute band who we haven’t used before,” says Mark.
“They seem to be popular with the public.”
Indeed. Just last year they played to 2,000 people at the unveiling of a memorial stone to Freddie Mercury in Feltham, West London, his former hometown.
“We’ve also got some stuff happening in the basement. Steve McGill will be introducing local talent on the acoustic stage and we’ll have hip-hop artists like Scor-Zay-Zee.
“We’re big fans of hip-hop aren’t we,” chips in Sam, wryly.
“On the way here today we were had 50 Cent on in the car.”
Nottingham rapper Scor-Zay-Zee starred alongside Paddy Considine in Shane Meadows’ low budget movie Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee.
Sam is the only signed musician on the bill. He’s still in the process of working on a debut album for Sony BMG. So far he’s had one single released, What You Look For, which reached a frustrating No. 41 in the UK chart.
The 21-year-old from Carlton, who has a wardrobe full of Burberry thanks to a spot of modelling for the brand, is also working on music for a film.
“I can’t disclose what the film is but it’s quite an exciting thing to be involved in.”
He has played every Concert For Life since the first in 2002.
“That was one of the first gigs I played,” he says.
“Mark is a close family friend, it is for a good cause but I do it because they have an excellent plate of biscuits backstage.”
He adds: “Everyone is there to have a laugh and we do every time.”
Says Mark: “It is a fun night for the bands and people who come down.”
The catering actually extends beyond a handful of chocolate digestives as family and friends who put on the gig will be sitting down to a three course meal before the doors open.
“It’s part of the support we get from local companies. The flyers we’ve had are done for free by Linney Print and we’ve had help from Crowne Plaza Hotel, Shirtysomething, Confetti studios and everybody at Rock City.
“The event is only made possible by their support and the people who turn up to the concert. I can't thank them enough.”
What: Concert For Life
With: Mercury, ZU2, Baggy Trousers, Sam Beeton, The Nathan Wall Band, Scor-Zay-Zee and others.
Where: Rock City, Talbot Street
When: Easter Sunday, April 4, 5pm until late
Tickets: £12/£14, from Rock City box office, Foremans Bar and The Old Volunteer in Carlton or call 0871 310 0000