Not even the anxiety of the UK election could cast its (sinister) shadow over London’s Troxy last night, with the East-end venue seeing thousands come to attend a benefit concert that featured performances from everyone from Daniel Caesar and Clairo to FKA Twigs, with proceeds going towards War Child UK’s response plan in Gaza and Sudan. 

Mustafa The Poet at Artists for Aid. Troxy, London. 2024. Photo by Luke Georgiades.

Organised by Sudanese-Canadian artist Mustafa The Poet and Artists For Aid, the concert gathered some of the culture’s most popular artists for a night of protest and music that aimed to not only to raise money in support of resistance efforts in Gaza and Sudan, but to give Londoners an opportunity to commune together as one voice, to collectively mourn those that have been lost, and and to celebrate the act of protest in and of itself.  “We take centre stage for the people of Sudan.” He said, before introducing the first act. “We take centre stage for the people of Palestine.” 

Each musician performed ten to fifteen minutes of material (around three or four songs) before making way for the next musician. The golden exception to the rule was legendary rapper Yasin Bey (otherwise known as Mos Def), who not so much played, but exorcised twice as many tracks as the rest of the lineup, storming the floor with the kind of thunderous stage presence that comes second nature to a performer who’s been rocking crowds for decades now. “Free Palestine! Free Sudan! Free Gaza! Free Wifi! Free Love! Freedom!” the veteran rapper incanted, the audience in turn echoing his sentiments powerfully. 

Earl Sweatshirt at Artists for Aid. Troxy, London. 2024. Photo by Luke Georgiades.

Other highlights include King Krule, who entered stage left to play a characteristically moody set, Earl Sweatshirt, opening the show with affirming tracks like Mancala, Ontheway, and Riot! (which notably interpolates the song of the same name by his late Godfather and iconic South African Jazz master Hugh Masekela, whose music was known for having a staunchly political core), and FKA Twigs, the audience response to whom was so passionate that it shook the ground itself. Canadian musician Daniel Caesar also took to the stage to play some of his most beloved tracks, including Get You (feat. Kali Uchis) and his hit record Best Part (feat. H.E.R)

King Krule at Artists for Aid. Troxy, London. 2024. Photo by Luke Georgiades.

Though music was at the heart of the event, the setlist also made room for moving interludes of poetry and even comedy; Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo took to the stage in the colours of both the Palestinian and Sudanese flags to perform a powerful spoken word piece and intimate ode to the struggle in Sudan, while comedian and actor Ramy Youssef (our interview with whom you can find here)—who was admirably outspoken in his support for Palestine during the past year’s awards season—brought some levity to the room, vamping about the UK election. “Today you guys had your election, I’m really happy for you.” He smiled, playfully baiting the crowd “You feel good about it?” The audience replied in unison, quickly building into chants of “Keir Stamer’s a wasteman”. Youssef plays along. “Oh, a waste man. Shout out to the waste men.”

It’s an energy that touched every corner of Troxy—the only venue which Mustafa reached out to in London who would host the event, as he admitted on stage. The feeling of unity continued out into the night long after the stage had been cleared.

You can support War Child UK’s response plan in Gaza and Sudan by clicking here.

Safia Elhillo at Artists for Aid. Troxy, London. 2024. Photo by Luke Georgiades.