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Radio 1's Big Weekend and a big clean up for tickets

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Ben Cooper | 10:41 UK time, Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Radio 1 crowdThe future King was there, the current Queen of Pop looked amazing and 40,000 people from North Wales had a pretty good time too.

On Monday morning, as I sat on a bench on platform 1 at Bangor train station I reflected on an amazing week of activity which culminated in two days of the very best in live music.

Even though HRH Prince William and Cheryl Cole might grab the headlines, for me there is something much more exciting about my time in Bangor. You may be surprised to learn that - even though our event is called a 'Weekend' - there's so much more to it than that. The Radio 1 wagon does not just roll in to town on a Friday making a sharp exit on a Sunday. We were there for a whole week in the run up to the event with Chris Moyles and Greg James presenting their shows from North Wales and they got out and about across the area every day to meet people.

Young people cleaning up a beach.jpgFollowing on from our volunteering campaign last month, on Monday we organised a beach sweep with 50 volunteers from the University of Bangor, cleaning up a local beach in exchange for tickets; The Fringe was bigger than ever before with seven gigs from Monday to Thursday showcasing new local talent; and DJs and production teams ran masterclasses at schools, colleges and the University too.

And as for the weekend itself, on Monday I watched the band Kids in Glass Houses get on the train to Cardiff with their tattoos, hats and tight jeans standing out amongst the local commuters. They played a fantastic set on Sunday on the In New Music We Trust stage that seemed to get the volume up to eleven and beyond.   

But before their energetic performance on stage in front of a huge crowd I saw them in a tent of about thirty young people teaching them how to play the guitar. 

Kids in Glass HousesThe idea was that Radio 1's listeners come to see some of their musical heroes but may never have picked up a guitar in their lives. So across the weekend several bands took the time out to show how if you hold down the strings in this way then that way, a life of rock and roll can await. 

The reaction was so good. People's faces a mix of concentration and excitement about playing different cords for the first time in a hot and sweaty tent. Simply brilliant to see.

At the weekend and across the whole of last week we brought live music to an area of the country that is under served by the market place. From delivering world class acts to the main stage and putting up and coming bands on the In New Music We Trust stage to giving brand new unsigned musicians a slot on the BBC Introducing Stage and securing local bands performing at The Fringe - all with the hope that, as in previous years, we leave a platform for the local music scene to build upon. And in addition to that, we might just have given a young person from North Wales the opportunity, confidence and motivation to pick up a guitar and change their lives.  As I sat at the station, across the tracks from me was a poster with an advert for Bangor University. It says 'for learning and for life' - it seems quite apt.  

Watch live performances from Radio 1's Big Weekend 

Ben Cooper is Deputy Controller, Radio 1


  • Comment number 1.

    Thank you Ben, I think I speak on behalf of the Board of Controllers at the BBC in saying "You've done a fantastic job. You're absolutely right, Cheryl Cole represents the very best in live music." Why anyone would want to go and see Led Zeppelin or Radiohead is beyond me.

    This is further proof that the BBC spends your money bringing you things that cannot be found anywhere else in the world: on this occasion, a live music festival in the open air. Nowhere else will you get to see any of these acts this summer, in Bangor.

    It's a shame the article somewhat overlooks the '6Music Little Weekend' event.

    At the weekend we brought live music and commonsense to an area of the country that rarely sees such things, Broadcasting House. From delivering world class acts to our main stage and putting up-and-coming bands on the In The Trust We Trust stage to giving speakers the chance to question the motives of the BBC Executive. It was a great event, but as the idea didn't come from anyone in BBC Management we've decided not to 'big it up' across our website or mention it at all in fact.

    As I sat at the station, across the tracks from me was a poster with an advert for Save 6Music. It said "Get yer grubby hands off our 6Music you pedents - Down with this sort of thing" - it seems quite apt.

    In summary, Radio 1 is brilliant. Even though I'm twice the age of the average listener and don't actually like new music, I never miss an opportunity to stress how hip and cool the BBC really is.


  • Comment number 2.

    The festival market in the UK is now saturated. Is there therefore any need (other than BBC ego) to have such an event to promote a radio station that no-one in the UK is unaware of?

    I've just been part (for the first time at 49) of organising an event - the Save 6 protest and Cake Fest and free gig. I am sure we did it for much less and we certainly did not need to be around for a whole week. Perhaps the BBC could use some of its own funds to promote a radio station - 6 Music - that has become an international cool brand (which Radio 1 certainly isn't) despite the neglect shown, rather than forcing licence fee payers to contribute their own time and money to promote it?

  • Comment number 3.

    So, the BBC wants to do fewer things better and not encroach on commercial turf, does it? There are over 300 festivals taking place this summer. Many of them featuring bands on this bill.

    Ben - I wonder if you're more responsive than your colleagues. Can you let us know how much it cost to put this two-day event on, please?

  • Comment number 4.

    I do enjoy Andy Parsnip's blog comments. What a wit!


  • Comment number 5.

    And the CakeFest was all organised for about £2000, contributed by those who would rather listen to 6 music than Radio 1 (and indeed would rather have their teeth pulled than listen to Radio 1).

    I wonder if the BBC would like to say how much their event cost?

  • Comment number 6.

    "... the very best in live music."

    There are some people out here - mostly discerning 6 Music listeners - who would argue that your view is somewhat delusional.

    And why Bangor?
    What have the poor people of Bangor done to deserve this?


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