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Looking at Live 8
2005-07-03 09:51
by Will Carroll

It's hard to get perspective less than a Jack Bauer away from something, but I can remember walking away from Live Aid knowing. I don't leave Live 8 behind with the same feeling, though I'm a far different person. I'm not young enough anymore to believe that the world is going to change the day after a rock concert and somehow, I feel like that's the difference. Bob Geldof, Bono, and the rest know that they can't hold a party and buy out the problem, no matter how great the party is.

Some in the reality based community are rejecting Live 8 and efforts like it as pie in the sky or worse, faith-based. Just before Madonna's set (surprisingly good - more on that later), Geldof walked out and showed part of the video that started him on his life's mission. Then he brought out one of the children seen in the video, now a quite pretty young woman. She looked a bit lost on stage with Madonna, but hey, she was one thing - alive. The image was phenomenally powerful.

The power of Live 8 will come in a week, when the collective focus of a generation will either affect or not affect the course of the eight most powerful leaders in the world. They have a chance to embrace hope or engender more cynicism than they can survive. Ronald Reagan knew enough to stay the hell out of the sights when a billion idealistic teenagers set themselves on a near-impossible quest twenty years ago.

Besides those that Geldof calls "the culture of defeat", many are saying that Live 8 was just a distraction from the real point. I think the point was driven home when one of MTV's vacuous hosts asked some frat boy what he learned. In his best Belushi voice, he responded "We gotta save AFRICA!" Maybe I'm wrong, but he probably can't find Africa on a map, can't spell G8, and has the attention span of an iPod Shuffle, but Geldof's party gave him one sentence that will likely come up time and again in his political consciousness: "I was at Live 8." Believe me, there are times when I've struggled for issues and thought back to another hot day in Philly and said "African relief" was important to me.

So how was the party? Was it the greatest rock concert in history? It can say yes with a straight face. I'll be the first to admit I can't ever imagine that Live Aid could be topped. Sequels are seldom better than the original. What Live 8 had was more artists, something of a quantity over quality. To me, there was no U2 moment, despite U2 playing. At Live Aid, U2 came out and just blew away the crowd, leaving everyone wondering who these guys were. Live 8 had no surprising reunions or secret guests. Pink Floyd was good, but exactly as we expected. Once the shock of seeing Roger Waters and David Gilmour on stage wore off, it was more nostalgia than rebirth. Keane was better than expected, Madonna looked and sounded great, even pointing at Geldof as she took off her jacket (a clear reference to her Live Aid performance), and The Who was the best of their generation. Green Day came the closest to a "breakout" performance, guttily taking on the Queen classic "We Are The Champions." Coldplay was a bit disappointing, not taking the opportunity to seize the crown of best band in the world, even for a moment.

The worst part was the coverage. I hear that the BBC and Canal-1 both went commercial free and locked in on one site, pipping in for highlights from others. MTV was simply old-fashioned, focusing on telling people how great the event was rather than letting us experience it. Focus groups told them that there would be a loss of attention after ten minutes and that Americans couldn't handle dead air. XM and AOL did much better, giving control to the user and a multi-channel, one-click experience that the Internet age understands.

I'm curious how the Edinboro concert will go and I'm curious of how the G8 will react, if at all. Live 8 didn't change the world yesterday, but I like living in the kind of world where it's worth trying.

2005-07-03 11:33:07
1.   Cliff Corcoran
Maybe I'm living under a rock, but I don't think I am. Were it not for you, Will, I wouldn't have even known these concerts happened yesterday. I think thats about all I need to say about their impact.
2005-07-03 11:49:21
2.   chris in illinois
I'd have to concur with Cliff. I work at a place that has roughly 70 employees aged 16-65 and the only person who has mentioned live 8 at all was a guy who kept on saying that Live Aid had nothing on FarmAid...most of the younger crowd had no idea what he was talking about.

I don't know what people mean by the 'younger generation', but I had a 16 year old cafe employee who when asked if she liked Madonna a few weeks ago, asked if she was the woman who sang the last James Bond theme.

We're gettin' old my friends.

2005-07-03 12:19:43
3.   aboveavg
I was pretty exited for this Live 8 thing, there were alot of bands playing that I enjoy. Unfortunately I was relying on MTV to see this event. To say their coverage was atrocious is an understatement. They showed none of the performances in full and in some cases would not even show a full song. There was no sense of the scope or granduer of the event and most of their coverage consisted of their endless supply of vapid hosts babbling while the artists could barely be heard in the background.
2005-07-03 17:50:36
4.   Scott Long
The Madonna performance was really great, but I have to say I was nervous when she hugged and kissed the girl from Africa that Mrs. Ritchie was going to give her a Britney like french kisser. I don't know how that would affected the G8, but I think it would have been a bit inappropriate.

I want to echo that MTV/VH1 did a terrible job of covering the event. There hosts were terrible. Where was a Mark Goodman or JJ Jackson when you needed them. Even Martha Quinn or Alan Hunter would have been better.

2005-07-03 18:16:16
5.   deadteddy8
I watched a good amount via AOL, and found myself wishing I could be there, at any of the sites... Four thoughts:

1) Robbie Williams is by far my favorite current "pop" star. His album "The Ego Has Landed" is rather glossy, but there's some excellent music there, and I didn't see anyone else at the shows match his energy and charisma.

2) The Who were terribly disappointing. I don't know why.

3) I'm not a fan of Maroon 5, but they did good by Neil Young's "Rocking In The Free World". Very Good Times.

4) The big political mistake is in not implementing a next step. In order for the concerts to do any good, the concertgoers needed to be implored to do something specific without music to lure them in. I think I'm with Will when I say I believe far too many people (at least in the States) ended the day thinking about the music and not the issue. ("We gotta save AFRICA!")


2005-07-03 20:53:00
6.   tem213
After reading other's thoughts and thinking about the show, I think I've come to a few conclusions:

1) MTV sucks. Why have people tell us how great the show is instead of letting us hear how good the show is for ourselves? Then cutting off Comfortably Numb? Cutting off the classic Townsend windmills? That's just nonsense. This just shows what is already widely known - MTV is no longer a music station. Thank God for AOL.

2) It's a shame Syd Barrett wasn't able to pull his sh!t together for a day and join Waters, Gimour & co.

3) Before the show, I thought the lineup of bands was pretty poor to be honest. I was excited about Pink Floyd, The Who, Brian Wilson and a few others - and it was good to see Richard Ashcroft up there. Snow Patrol too. But after some thought, I think my problem isn't that the lineup was poor, but that I think it's that there's just a lot of crappy music in the mainstream nowadays and thus a poor selection to choose from. U2 is a pale shadow of what they were 10-15 years ago (shoulda hung it up after Achtung Baby). I've never been a huge fan of Madonna, but she oughtta hang it up too. Being arguably the best band out there today, it's a shame Radiohead was unable to play. But I guess the problem is that the bands today are just poor imitations/ripoffs of other successful acts. How many limp bizkit/linkin park/non-descript rap metal bands can there be? The same could be said about Green Day/Blink 182/Good Charlotte (Good F'n Charlotte?) I've clearly digressed, as this has turned into a rant on the poor state of popular music today, which is a shame because there are a ton of great acts out there - The Decemberists, The Arcade Fire, and Grandaddy to name a few.

4) Concerts and shows are good and all, but anyone who thinks that events like this are going to do much to change anything are pretty naive.

5) I'm watching Matrix Revolutions now and good lord did the trilogy go down hill fast

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