Live Review
by Scott Sterling-Wilder

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Live: Various
Hyde Park, London
Saturday, July 2, 2005
Live8 or The War of the Worlds: musicians vs. G8

Bob Geldof’s autobiography was entitled ‘Is That It?’, because that’s what he had heard a couple of spectators commenting after the Live Aid, back in 1985. The same sentiment holds even more so after Live8: more big stars expressing concerns about the issue - Sir Elton John‘s shopping tally per a spendoholic outing could wipe out half-a-dozen African countries’ debts! - resulting in more record sales, “because these people care”. Not excluding their bank balances, naturally.

Of the people who made the London bill, there is only a handful of them who really do voice their views: Bono, Chris Martin, Michael Stipes, Annie Lennox, Fran Healy, Sting and, obviously, Bob Geldof. The rest of them just show solidarity of support and rake in benefits. Anyhow, the Live8 shows took place around the globe amid calls for more Urban and African artists to be included but hardly anyone was mentioning - Heavy Metal? Motley Crue may be included on the Canucks’ bill but that’s as metal as Bob Geldof is saintly.

OK, Velvet Revolver were more than pertinent representatives but, although looking like true stars and rocking fittingly, they failed to connect in their usual way. And, why Status Quo didn’t open the show with their simple and primal ‘athems’? [Sure, Chris Martin added a chorus of Status Quo's 'Rocking All Over The World' to the end of 'In My Place'...] Macca and U2 didn’t feel like natural union and the subsequent songs by Bono and the boys were somewhat subdued; this band can usually start a revolution but failed a tad short of it. Then, Coldplay - they were saved by Richard Ashcroft who joined them for a stellar rendition of The Verve’s immortal ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’. Sir Elt and Pete Doherty pairing should have been rethought [it reportedly almost were due to PD’s high intake of medication] to prevent Marc Bolan/T-Rex’s ‘Children Of The Revolution’ butchering.

Geldof kept turning up regularly to introduce different acts but at one moment it was - Bill Gates who introduced Dido… 15 minutes of snoozing on the grass [if you coul do it standing up]… She massacred the beautiful ‘7 Seconds’ - duet with Youssou N’Dour - because this woman ain’t Neneh Cherry! The dozeville continued despite Stereophonics’ effort to make some racket! By the way, what’s with Geldof‘s image, turning into an Irish Ghandi? And we could have done without ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’! But then, considering he’s the organiser - you gotta indulge Mr Mouth-man!

Otherwise, other mini-highlights were Razorlight, Madonna, Robbie Williams, Sting, Pink Floyd, George Micheal joining Macca for a surprise duet on ‘Baby You Can Drive My Car’ and the Grand Finale. So touching, so moving, so dominated by the veterans. The new artists are full of promise but they still need to hone the craft of showmanship.

Aside music, can we really do anything about it - make people aware to help eradicate poverty and, ultimately, save the planet? It looks possible but things tend to shape differently: for every foot of progress - there are several steps back. It feels like we are really only catching up to reality, it is not like we could really alter it.

Messrs Geldof and Bono may be making all the right noises, pressurising the politicos who appear to be responding but the situation is not just to write debt off - it is the change of attitude of US and THEM. As long as there are dictators [over there] there will be abuse of Western help as well as our use the Third World as the source of cheap labour and other resources, there will be no getting rid of poverty, no justice in the world and, ultimately - no equality.

Also, using pop stars and celebrities to promote a cause [however noble] is not only a great way to get a superb line-up of free entertainment but it also whiffs self-promotionally and amounts to career-saving/enhancing move. How much will this awareness drive be effective? It may work in the immediate future but it is 20 years since we had Live Aid, a success although things decidedly failed to improve much over the intervening period…

So, there was the War of the Worlds and sounds won… 10 hours of music instead of the planned 7-plus; the greatest show ever staged? History will judge… Can Live8 really change anything, are we “The true United Nations” as Mr Kofi Anan called us? Did the G8 leaders watch and take note? Still, without hope there is no humanity…

Scott Sterling-Wilder