Exclusive: Mencap's Big Noise!

22 December 2009


This weekend Coldplay - supported by Lily Allen and La Roux – headlined Mencap’s Big Noise gig in Exeter Castle, to raise money and awareness for people with learning disabilities. This genius annual event is curated and hosted by Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley, who is an ambassador for Mencap.

When Grazia Daily discovered that Whiley’s daughter India is an up-and-coming photographer, (who at 17 already has an amazing live music portfolio), we couldn’t resist commissioning her to take some exclusive pictures for us. We think you’ll be impressed.

Here’s India’s exclusive blog and photographs from the night…


A Night of Big Noise
It's Christmas time, and what better way to celebrate than with an intimate night at Exeter Castle, with Coldplay playing a homecoming gig as part of Mencap's Big Noise Session. Everyone wrapped up warm in their finest winter threads, sipping mulled wine, munching mince pies and hog roasts a-plenty while a local brass band played Christmas hymns.

The show was organised by Jo Whiley for learning disability charity, Mencap, and it was the perfect Christmas event.

The first band to enter the sparkling fairy lit marquee was the aptly dressed La Roux, in an equally shimmering outfit. She played a fantastic, electro-poptastic set with her band and now infamous hair, announcing to the audience that just before her performance she realised the quiff was a little too long and cut the top off, donating it to Mencap.

Coldplay came on stage in their usual multi-colored, military-style outfits for the very last time, as they are due to be auctioned off for charity. With Chris on piano, they began their set in keeping with the season with, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Their set ran through with phenomenal versions of classics such as Yellow, The Scientist, In My Place and Fix You. Chris said, '20 years ago, 400 meters down the road, I played my first gig, and it's fantastic to be ending the decade for our band by playing here'.

Mid-set the band disappeared off stage, only to appear in the middle of the crowd on a platform, playing three acoustic tracks including one from drummer Will, a fantastic version of Billie Jean, and a solo by Chris which he touchingly dedicated to his Dad, who was standing right behind him.

The set ended with a gorgeous version of John Lennon's Happy Christmas (War is Over). As arms swayed and the crowd sang in unison, fake snow fell gently over the enchanted audience.

It was a fantastic gig, it marked the end of an era for Coldplay after 10 magical years. I felt completely privileged to have been a part of their last performance of the decade.



- India Whiley-Morton



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