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CMU Beef Of The Week #308: Pop v Brexit (Round 3)

By | Published on Friday 3 June 2016


The saga of Bpoplive – and it is a saga – is a long and complicated one. But the event’s stated aims are simple: put on a pop concert in the run up to the EU referendum to convince young people to vote.

It’s a simple idea. Maybe even a commendable idea. But ideas and actions are different things. First, for as much as it has been claimed that this is a non-partisan event, simply highlighting the importance of using your vote on 23 Jun, it only has the involvement of one side of the debate. Leave.EU officially endorses the unofficial event.

Leave.EU is, however, very keen to point out that it is not organising the show, even though it has three speakers (the only three speakers) on the line-up, is funded by the same people, all statements relating to the gig come via Leave.EU, the theoretical third party organisers have no apparent online presence, and senior members of Leave.EU have talked openly about attempting to book acts.

Booking acts has been a difficult thing though. Or at least keeping them once they’re booked has proven tricky. To quickly recap, the original event, due to take place in May, fell apart when it’s fairly impressive line-up, including Sigma and Ella Eyre, all pulled out upon realising its political agenda. The date was then moved back to 19 Jun, four days before the vote and just under two weeks after enthused young people could register to take part, and a new line-up was published.

But that second line-up – two members of 5ive, Alesha Dixon, East 17, Sister Sledge and Rose Royce’s Gwen Dickey – all pulled out within 24 hours, someone again having failed to inform the acts that they would be playing a political rally. Perhaps because Leave.EU keeps insisting that it’s not a political rally, even though it’s billed as “the biggest campaign rally in modern British political history”.

But the show must go on, Queen once sang. Queen aren’t playing, by the way. But there is a new line-up. And the big new headliner is Mike, Cheryl, Jay and Bobby, aka Bucks Fizz. Actually, sorry, in order to avoid any legal action I have to refer to them by their official name, Formerly Of Bucks Fizz.

Wait, aren’t Mike, Cheryl, Jay and Bobby the classic Eurovision-winning line-up of Bucks Fizz? Yes, they are. Almost. But also, no, they are not. Are you ready for a sub beef?

After several years of battling over who exactly owned the name Bucks Fizz, original member Bobby G won the rights to the moniker in court back in 2011. He now performs as leader of a group called Bucks Fizz, and as a stern note on his website will inform you: “Bucks Fizz is a registered trade mark. The current line up as featured on this site is the only group authorised to perform as Bucks Fizz”.

The Bobby you see listed as a member of Formerly Of Bucks Fizz is actually Bobby McVay, ex-vocalist of 80s band Sweet Dreams. He’s not even a former member of Bucks Fizz, which makes a mockery of what was, obviously, otherwise a very sensible situation. We approached a rep for Bobby G for a comment on his former bandmates repping the anti-EU campaign, but sadly have heard nothing back. Perhaps he’s still making his mind up.

Leave.EU is pretty certain that it’s nailed it this time though. “Cheryl, Jay, Mike and Bobby – formerly of Bucks Fizz, the last British team to really win big in Europe – will be part of a fantastic event which promises to be the most memorable night of the referendum calendar”, said a statement on Facebook. That’s right, more memorable than the referendum itself. “It’s time for us to start making our minds up, and who better to hammer that message home?”

Guys, I already made the ‘making your mind up’ joke. Back off. Actually, it seems it might be me they’re hoping would back off, with their statement continuing: “Journalists wondering how Bpop could possibly top East 17 and two-fifths of 5ive need wonder no longer, as the Eurovision stars will be joined on stage by none other than Gordon Hendricks as the King himself, Elvis Presley”.

That’s quite a complicated gag, isn’t it? It appears that they’re mocking their own former line-up for not being as good as some former members of Bucks Fizz who aren’t allowed to perform as Bucks Fizz and an Elvis impersonator. But at the same time, it’s self-deprecating enough to suggest that there was always a lack of confidence in that previous line-up, and that they realise that this one is possibly on shaky ground too.

Not that there should be any doubt about the second booking. Elvis impersonator Gordon Hendricks has credentials. He has previously been crowned Europe’s best Elvis impersonator and came top ten in the world Elvis impersonator championships in Memphis. Good job Europe was there to give him that stepping stone to the world stage, don’t you think?

Commenting on the new line-up, which will have further acts announced today and on Monday, a spokesperson told The Mirror: “We’ve got some good ones. We’ve drip fed it rather than putting out the whole thing in one go. It got completely annihilated last time, there’s no point trying to deny that”.

In another moment of honesty, they added, in something of an about turn: “It’s also a political rally. People are coming because it’s a political rally as well. The entertainment is just to give it an end-of-term feel – we thought we would throw a party”.

So far, “about a third” of the tickets have been sold, said the spokesperson. So that’s 5000 young people ready to be enthused. There are still 10,000 seats available though, all ready to be filled with budding young voters. Don’t forget that Nigel Farage, Liam Fox and Kate Hooey will be speaking too. What a night it’s going to be.