By Rebecca Speare-Cole, PA
A standing ovation greeted Sir Rod Stewart, Van Morrison and Paloma Faith as they led a star-studded line-up at a charity concert in the Royal Albert Hall.
Thousands flocked to the world-famous venue in central London for the Raise the Roof fundraiser concert on Wednesday evening, organised by the charity Prostate Cancer UK and musician Jools Holland, 64, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2014.
Holland, who performed on the piano alongside his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra throughout the show, accompanied all the musician’s sets.
Olly Alexander, Celeste, Melanie C, Paul Weller, Ruby Turner and Chris Difford were among the acts, performing one or two song covers each.
Celeste, wearing a deep purple gown, delivered a powerful performance of like Ray Charles’ Come Rain or Come Shine while Paloma Faith, in a floor-length silver and gold dress, was cheered on during her rendition of Etta James’ Something’s Got A Hold On Me.
Stand-up comedians Omid Djalili, Harry Hill, Stephen K Amos, Shaparak Khorsandi and Gina Yashere prompted waves of laughter among the audience with jokes ranging from obsessions with their dogs to living with their 82-year-old dad during lockdown.
Meanwhile, Holland and Sir Rod, who donned a silver suit, showcased a new song from a swing album they have been working on.
The Maggie May singer danced across the stage, belting out the chorus lyrics of “sunshine and flowers”.
Sir Rod, who previously battled the disease himself and had flown in from California for the event, told the audience: “It is tremendous to be here.
“You may or may not have had that the dreaded disease. If it wasn’t for my wonderful wife, my gorgeous family and some great doctors, I wouldn’t be here tonight.”
The singer later joked about the outfit Van Morrison wore during his set, which included green aviator sunglasses and a baby blue suit with a matching trilby hat.
Sir Rod said: “Ladies and Gentleman, a special round of applause for Van Morrison’s suit.”
“I always warm up with singing Have I Told You Lately? but he’s in the next dressing room so I didn’t do it. Well done, Van.”
Sir Rod then said “What else have we got to say, Jools?” before adding: “I love you.”
Holland replied: “I love you too” before they spoke about how they met each other through their mutual love of model trains.
Holland repeatedly thanked the performers for their support during the show, saying: “I would like to thank all of the artists who have come from all over the world to be here tonight.”
He told the audience between acts: “I want to say a huge thank you for coming this evening but I really want to thank all the artists.
“They have come because they wanted to support this because they or their families have been affected in some way or they have come because they are my dear friend.”
Mel C also thanked the audience, saying: “This sadly is something that affects so many of us and we’re touched by these awful things in our lives, so we are here and you did a good thing tonight so thank you for being here.”
She then asked Holland on the piano: “What do you think? Shall we go back in time? Shall we get a bit spicy?”.
The audience all roared as Mel C began singing the Spice Girls’ song Who Do You Think You Are?.
Olly Alexander also got the audience up out of their seats and dancing as he sang Stevie Wonder’s Sign, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.
After finishing the song, he raised a towel to his face, laughing: “I’m going to dab myself down after that, sorry.”
Funds from Raise The Roof, which was also organised by the founder of Prostate Cancer UK, Professor Jonathan Waxman, will go towards research into helping to find a better testing approach to prostate cancer and one which could be used for a UK-wide screening programme, the charity has previously said.
In March this year, Holland told the PA news agency about his own diagnosis in 2014, revealing he was diagnosed following a routine blood test and at the time had no symptoms.
He added that it is “really important for men to be aware of the facts of prostate cancer and understand their risk”.
Sir Rod also battled the disease and was given all-clear in 2019 after being diagnosed two years earlier.
The singer, who has previously spoken out encouraging more men at risk to speak to their GP, said ahead of the concert: “I’m in the clear, now, simply because I caught it early… Guys, you’ve got to really go to the doctor.”