Live8 – Review

5 July, 2005 at 12:02 Leave a comment

Thanks, Sir Bob Geldof. The aging rocker organised Live 8, a concert to fight poverty, 20 years after Live Aid, the seminal concert for Africa. This time, the mega-concert said, ‘We don’t want your money, we want you.’ The effort was to promote people’s knowledge of a three-part plan suggested to the world’s leaders to consider at the G8 summit in Scotland on Wednesday.
So Saturday, July 2, became one of the biggest days in rock history, as 10 venues around the world rocked to 150 sensational bands. Over 2 million were in attendance at the shows, and the estimated television audience was 3 billion people. And all the rockers had to say was: sign up, give your name to live8 and strive to make poverty history.

London’s Hyde Park kicked off the gargantuan proceedings. And who better to start the show than a Beatle?
Sir Paul McCartney took centrestage, with U2, arguably the biggest rock band in the world today. The song, most appropriately, to set the ball rolling was Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was twenty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play…
And then the Irish band fronted by the most advertised philanthropist in the world went solo. Bono and his Dubliners brought the concert alive with Beautiful Day and Vertigo, from their latest album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. That is, before they went poignant as hell with One.

Billy Joel once said that no one can hammer the life out of a piano quite like Elton John. Sir John came. And he hammered. That rousing, mad rendition of The Bitch Is Back showed just why we love him.
Madonna came, yes, but London didn’t see a lady. The first of the Live 8 performers to use an expletive – which eventually led the BBC to recieve 350 complaints about swearing – Madge was electrifying on stage as she coaxed the audience into a frenzy, grooving energetically to super tracks, including Like A Prayer.
Joining her on stage was Ethiopian famine survivor, Birhan Woldu, a beneficiary of the original 1985 Live Aid, and Madonna was so overcome she almost couldn’t perform. The keyword: almost. Madonna rocked.

Then there came the latest challengers to the ‘biggest band in the world’ crown. Coldplay began quite well with In My Place, where Chris Martin (the frontman, seen left, over the piano) threw in a snatch of Rockin’ All Over The World. Wife Gwyneth Paltrow (inset) smiled proudly from the crowds, cradling headphoned baby daughter Apple. And then came the overstatement, as Martin dashed into hyperbole, calling the next track ‘the best song ever written sung by the best singer in the world,’ which is a wee bit much for even the former singer of Verve, Richard Ashcroft, to take seriously. Still, Bittersweet Symphony is a great track, and the audience went wild.

Sting selected three fabulous songs, making his an unforgettable set. The rocker began things off in characteristic superhit style, with Message in a bottle. Then came the unexpected, but superbly fitting Driven To Tears, a more obscure track, yelling at the sceptics: How can you say that you’re not responsible?. But the best was yet to come. This Every Breath You Take was a glaring indictment of the world leaders, as their faces occupied the mega screens and he sang a different, hard-hitting refrain:
Oh, can’t you see
Our hypocrisy
No matter what they say
They’re just games they play

Meanwhile, in Philadeplhia, Will Smith was in da’ house. The rapper made his entry in style, in a throne carried on shoulders, as the chants grew stronger: ‘The champ is here, the champ is here. As expected, he did Gettin Jiggy With It, and his latest, Switch. But his finale was something special as he joined forces with Philly DJ Jazzy Jeff (top right, in blue) to make the audience trip on 1980s nostalgia. The crowd sang the words to the theme song from Smith’s sitcom, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. And while Will had audiences worldwide raising their arms and snapping their fingers, it took a legend like Stevie Wonder to upgrade that snap to a clap. Hands around the world were united as the superstar inspired the world to join the show.

The Black Eyed Peas, currently among the world’s hottest acts, rocked Philadelphia with Where Is The Love and their current chartbuster, Don’t Phunk With My Heart. And then they introduced some special guests: The Marleys. An obvious, effective rendition of Get Up, Stand Up followed, the audiences going wild even as the Peas’ Fergie (right) tried to match timbre with the legendary reggae messiah’s widow Rita Marley.
But the most anticipated act of the day was a bunch of grizzled senior citizens. Twenty-four years after the last time they played together on stage, Roger Waters joined David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright: Pink Floyd was back. Appropriately, it took Pink (the protagonist of the film The Wall, Bob Geldof) to resurrect the long warring band. The rust showed only slightly as the veteran psychedelic rockers dedicated Wish You Were Here to founding member Syd Barret and then sang a flawless Comfortably numb, followed by a touching embrace. Sir Paul, the sprightliest rocker of the show, showed no signs of mellowing with age as he brought the show to a fantastic close.
George Michael made an unexpected appearance, joining in for a great rendition of the Fab Four’s Drive My Car. And then there was a brilliant, rampaging, relentless and stunningly powerful version of Helter Skelter.

In the end, there was The Long And Winding Road, with the chorus of Hey Jude thrown in, where all the rockers joined McCartney on stage.

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Entry filed under: CWorks, Glasgow-Travails, WebXP.

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