The Hillsborough Justice Band and a cause worth fighting for
The Hillsborough Justice Band has been raising awareness into the disaster and the families fight for justice through various gigs, events and recordings. After last week's Independent Panel released their findings Getintothis' Jamie Bowman caught up with singer Peter Hooton to reflect on the band's continued fight for justice.
'Music, beer and football - the very stuff of life itself' was how the late, great John Peel summed up the content of Liverpool football fanzine The End.
Peel's ringing endorsement crossed my mind last week when Getintothis sat down for an emotional interview with the magazine's former editor, Peter Hooton to discuss the momentous publication of the Hillsborough report.
Peter, the lead singer of The Farm, has worked tirelessly over the last 20 years to expose the lies perpetrated by the police about the Hillsborough disaster.
As a successful musician, Peter realised he was in a unique position to help the campaign by raising awareness through various gigs, events and recordings.
It's rare these days that music concerns itself with matters and issues that could be deemed 'local'. Ever since Band Aid, our biggest bands have constantly strived to align themselves with whatever cause is currently flavour of the month.
Whether its Sting hanging out in the Amazon, Bono clicking his fingers at Live 8 or Chris Martin writing things on his hand, so many of these gestures seem to tell us more about the people doing them then the actual charity or issue they are supporting.
The Hillsborough justice campaign was different and the work of Hooton and countless other members of Liverpool's rock community deserve a mention for showing just what can be achieved when musicians pay more than just lip service to a cause they feel passionately about.
John Power at Mountford Hall on the Justice Tour
Peter credits much of the reinvigoration of the campaign to the events that surrounded the twentieth anniversary of that awful day in 1989.
Rather than trotting out the usual celebrities, Peter recruited the cream of Merseyside talent, including the likes of Shack's John Head and Cast's John Power, to record that rare item - a charity single that was actually credible, moving and rather good.
After the success of the Fields of Anfield Road single came the Don't Buy The Sun concert, which seemed to further galvanise the campaign to expose the newspaper and the lies it told.
Pete Wylie during the Justice Tonight gig at The Picket
The general mood and public perception about the disaster seemed to be shifting and Getintothis is certain the efforts of Peter, his fellow band members, Pete Wylie and former Clash singer and guitarist Mick Jones played a crucial role in this.
Mick's presence and undeniable enthusiasm opened some incredible doors for the project which came to be known as the Hillsborough Justice Band.
Mick Jones the Justice Tonight gig at The Picket
Soon there was a tour of the UK and Ireland and there quickly followed an even greater triumph as the band supported the newly-reformed Stone Roses around Europe.
If there was one moment which summed up the power of this wonderful union between music and the beautiful game it was Manchester United legend Eric Cantona appearing with the HJB in Lyon, singing The Clash's Rock The Casbah.
Here was one of United's greatest icons, appearing as support for one of Manchester's greatest bands, raising awareness of a campaign which was seen as an anathema for many United supporters.
Peter sent me a photograph to go with the interview, of him lined up with John Power, Mick Jones, John Bishop and MP Andy Burnham.
It made me think of all those sycophantic images of pop stars hanging out with MPs and how little they meant compared to this.
Football, music and beer? Well now you can add justice to the fine list of essentials. Mr Peel would be very proud.