live 8 — so what’s the big?

UPDATE 07/06/2005:

AOL has posted a page with links to videos from some of the performances:

http://music.channel.aol.com/live_8_concert/highlights

Why was this show important?

Twenty years ago yesterday, another huge concert event called live aid occurred. Two concerts in London and Philadelphia ran most of the day with a large number of bands that were big in the mid 80s. They were trying to raise awareness and money to help aid poverty in african countries.

Although live aid and other efforts like it have raised millions of dollars in aid and have done a great deal to help this part of the world, the effort has simply been a band aid for the problem, not the cure.

The organizers of live 8 realize this, and they are shooting for a bigger, more important goal. End poverty in these countries. Period. But, in order to do that, things have to happen on a much larger scale than they have ever done in the past. So, live 8 is focusing on the G8 summit, where 8 of the wealthiest nations get together and talk. They already have Tony Blair, the british Prime Minister, on board, and he will present their idea to the other nations.

So, if they’re talking to world leaders, why should we care? Well, do you really think President Bush is going to listen to the likes of Bob Geldolf and Bono? Probably not. That’s where the concerts come in. The concerts are meant to attract attention of us, the people, in order to raise awareness of the situation. The president may not listen to a couple of rock stars, but he will pay attention to the concerns of millions of his constituents. I read somewhere that he appears to be on board with this and may double the amount of relief effort to africa. He’s a president on his second term, and like most presidents, he’s thinking about the legacy he will leave behind.

It’s an intriguing idea. Wouldn’t it be nice for the United States to make a difference in part of the world without sacrificing a single soldier, or firing a single shot?

Go here to find out more: www.live8live.com.

Now, about the shows themselves…

I watched Live Aid twenty years ago. I even tried to tape evey bit of it ( I think I had it on like 6 betamax cassettes). It meant getting up about 6 am to start recording the London show, and it ran till about10 pm that night. I think they had an easier time with that concert because they were only dealing with two shows in two cities. Plus, because London was six hours ahead, it was easy to switch back and forth. I think bands had more time to play, and they staggered sets so that MTV could switch between locations.

Now, I have to say, it’s very impressive that the Live 8 organizers were able to pull off simultaneous concerts across nine different cities around the world. Kudos really need to also go to AOL for doing live webcasts throughout the day, and XM Radio had seven channels devoted to coverage in the major cities. MTV and VH1 were covering the shows to some extent.

That tells you one thing about how things have changed in 20 years. At Live Aid, the only option anyone had was to watch the coverage on MTV. Now, we have TV coverage, satellite radio, and webcasts. I was disappointed to see that the satellite TV or cable networks didn’t pick up on this and offer to broadcast the shows on dedicated channels.

Unfortunately, because of the sheer magnitude of these concerts, it was nearly impossible to catch it all. MTV, though, had to be the worse. I Tivo’d the MTV coverage. They only dedicated about eight hours to the concert as opposed to broadcasting the concerts in their entirety. I haven’t watched all of it, but fast-forwarding through a good chunk of it you can tell they didn’t spend much time on the concerts themselves.

Although I think it was good that they kept reminding people of the reason behind the concerts, I think they never found the right balance. The biggest complaint I’ve seen was that they cut to commercial in the middle of Pink Floyd’s set, who had put aside their differences and reformed just for this show.

Now, to me, one of the most interesting points of the show ( that I caught on AOL ), was when Bob Geldof came out before Madonna’s set. He showed a picture of a girl they showed at Live Aid, who was nearly-dying at the time. Then, to show that they have made a difference, he brought the girl out on stage, who is now an attractive young woman in her early 20s who was just finishing college.

Anyway, the other problem is that it looked like most groups were only allowed to perform one to at most three songs. Some groups may have gotten four. I think they had to do that because of the huge number of bands that were there.

Who was there?

Lets see: U2, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Faith Hill, Annie Lennox, Bob Geldof, Coldplay, Dido, Elton John, Joss Stone, Kean, the Killers, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Pink Floyd, Razorlight, REM, Robbie Williams, Scissor Sisters, Snoop Dogg, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Sting, Travis, UB40, Velvet Revolver, Andrea Bocelli, The Cure, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, A-ha, Audioslave, Brian Wilson, Crosby Stills & Nash, Green Day, Roxy Music, Tim McGraw, Destiny’s Child, Will Smith, Barenaked Ladies, Def Leppard, Byan Adams, Deep Purple, DMC, Gordan Lightfoot, Jet, Motley Crue, Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan, Tom Cochrane, Bjork, Good Charlotte, Pet Shop Boys, Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band, Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Josh Groban, Kieth Urban, Linkin Park, Maroon 5, Stevie Wonder, P Diddy, Rob Thomas, Sarah McLachlan, Toby Keith

and more…. Just a couple of groups…

But, to me, I think they would have been better off leaving the shows in two cities and setting it up more like Woodstock, where the concerts ran over a couple of days. They could have given more time to the bands, and with only two locations they may have gotten more television coverage.

I figure the concert will be out on DVD soon. I haven’t picked up the live aid DVD, although I’ve been sorely tempted to. I hope that they split the coverage up by band, so that you can easily jump to the performance you want to watch.

Fast forwarding through the Tivo reminded me of watching the Live Aid performance and how I had to not only make sure each tape was marked with major performances on it, but how I had to fast forward through a lot of it just to get to the right set.

Getting both of these shows on DVD at some point will be intriguing just to see the differences in the bands that performed at both shows. Plus, it will help the cause as well.

Who was there 20 years ago? (this is off the top of my head)

U2, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins ( who performed live in London, hopped on a concorde to Philly and performed a set there), Madonna, Queen, Wham, The Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, the Power Station, Sting, Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, the Beach Boys, Bryan Adams, A-ha, etc etc.. (hey it was 20 years ago)

Regardless, it’s still amazing that they could pull this off again. We’ll have to wait and see if it makes a impact on the G8 summit though.

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