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Under Siege gig at end of Rochester Castle Concerts scrapped in favour of Craig David gig

By Lynn Cox

Young musicians will no longer get a chance to follow in the footsteps of their idols as Medway Council has scrapped the Under Siege concert to make way for Craig David.

The gig has taken place on Sundays at the end of the Rochester Castle Concert series for many years, but this year the show, which is free to watch and has featured hundreds of talented youngsters, will not be staged at the historic venue.

It cannot go ahead as usual because chart-topper Craig David will appear twice – on Tuesday, July 11 and Thursday, July 13 – after the original date sold out in less than an hour.

Craig David is playing at Rochester Castle, twice.

Craig David is playing at Rochester Castle, twice.

Medway Council only has a licence to host five concerts a year at the outdoor venue.

The council has said it is now looking at alternative places to stage the gig in September.

Bosses say the second Craig David gig provided them with the perfect opportunity to launch a new standalone Under Siege, where the event can go on for longer and give young people a chance to work back stage.

But one local man who contacted KentOnline's sister paper the Medway Messenger said: “Some young people I know wanted to apply to play at Under Siege this year.

“It gave young musicians a chance on a big stage. It looks like the council are making sure they plug the funding gaps at the expense of young people.”

Under Siege have lost out to Craig David

Under Siege have lost out to Craig David

Under Siege gave youngsters the chance to perform on the same stage as the Castle Concerts acts such as Status Quo, Blue and Jools Holland, with a professional production team, sound and lighting.

The Voice finalist Jamie Johnson performed at the event stage twice as a young singer.

He said: “It is a shame it is not going ahead there as it is something that got bigger and bigger every year to showcase young people.

“Young people and their families still ask me about it and look forward to it every year.

“I am happy to hear it is going to be held elsewhere as it is a good thing for young people, and if the performers can be on stage for longer, then that’s brilliant.”

He added: “It needs to be an outside gig really, that would be great.”

A Medway Council spokeswoman added the second Craig David gave them the “perfect timing” to launch the new standalone Under Siege and a new venue will be announced shortly.

She added:“Locations being considered include Great Lines Heritage Park in Gillingham and The Central Theatre in Chatham, that’s seen huge stars perform on its stage over more than 50 years, including Jimmy Hendrix, David Bowie, The Beatles, Bob Geldoff and many more.

Proud to be Sinners have previously performed at Under Seige

Proud to be Sinners have previously performed at Under Seige

“Under Siege has always given young musicians a platform to perform, but this year there will also be a chance for those interested in backstage and the technical side of production to get involved and shadow the professionals.

“We’ve had long term ambitions to raise the profile of Under Siege by making it a bespoke, standalone gig.

“In its new home, performers will have a longer slot to perform as the event won’t be restricted to two hours, as prescribed in the Sunday licence when the event was at the end of the Castle Concerts.

“Following discussions with our partner organisations MidKent College and The Delta Project, it’s been decided to move the event to September to allow performers to rehearse over the summer holidays and make sure school work and end of year exams aren't disrupted.”

Audition dates will be announced in the coming months.

Visit www.facebook.com/MedwayUndersiege to find out more.

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