Live 8 :: 07.02.05 :: Hyde Park London, UK
It was a day that joined nations and linked billions of people. A day that gave us something worth believing in: Hope - a necessity for world change made possible by world compassion. For this was truly what Bob Geldof had envisioned. After vowing to never do Live Aid again, a return to Ethiopia in 2004 staggered him. 1985's Live Aid was a massive success, raising over one-hundred million dollars it became the largest single charity event ever held. Yet twenty years later the situation has actually grown worse, with more people facing starvation now than in the mid-eighties. Thus, at the end of the day, the plight of millions went unchanged.
Disgusted at what he had witnessed, an emotionally angered Bob Geldof contacted Tony Blair, and together they formulated a yearlong analysis researching the tribulations affecting Africa. The predicament is as follows: Africa is in dire need of transformation. It is imperative that the rich nations of the world back their pursuits for change. These changes consist of doubling African aid, debt cancellations, and a reformation of trade laws. Despite the charity of millions, it is apparent that this alone cannot solve Africa's problems. It takes integrity and an acknowledgement of the unfair policies forced on the poorest nations by the richest. The current situation is overwhelmingly hopeless for the future of Africa. Their release from clenching debts is made impossible as increases in interest keep them captive. It is a situation in which nations are spending more on debt than on health and education. Paying us more than they spend on their own people. Consider Nigeria - it has paid back eighteen billion dollars towards a seventeen billion dollar debt, yet it still owes thirty-four billion dollars thanks to compound interest. It is time we answer for the sufferings we continue to impose and acknowledge our own failures in complying with past promises of support. And, in a world that looks away from justice, a system corrupted by money and power, and an overwhelming feeling that nothing can be done, activist and visionary Bob Geldof had a dream. Not a self-fulfilling dream, but a dream challenging us all to change, to "Make Poverty History." In the face of the G8's annual summit - a meeting with the leaders of the eight wealthiest nations, we took our stand. As Bono put it, "This is our moment. This is our time. This is our chance to stand up for what is right. We're not asking for charity, we're asking for justice."
This was a day built on dreams, hope, compassion, love, and awareness. A day where billions watched, millions were once again able to believe in the worth of mankind, and one guest would surprise us all as a living testament to the possibilities for Africa's future. A day where Pink Floyd reunited, and the masses stood together to do the unthinkable: To Make Poverty History.
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd
This was hardly a planned holiday. Only ten days earlier we laughed at the idea of selling everything we had to participate in Hyde Park. But we had to do it. So we overloaded the credit cards, placed our sacred valuables on eBay, and spent nearly every waking moment on the Internet, searching for the cheapest rooms and fares. Finally, we did it, and at 4:30 a.m. on July 2nd, we awoke and excitedly trucked our way down Oxford Street to our Mecca in Hyde Park.
The morning of the show, people from all over the world counted the seconds like dollars as twelve o'clock finally spilt upon us, and the legions of people rushed towards a three-foot barrier like a human NASCAR. With only an hour to wait, everyone found their proper place as 200,000 people settled in for what Coldplay's Chris Martin called "the greatest thing that's ever been organized in the history of the world."
What better way to start the show than for Paul McCartney and U2 to come out with three costumed brass players in Pepper uniforms singing, "It was twenty years ago today." And with those poignant words, the first ever live "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" and Live 8 had officially begun. U2's performance was by far the greatest opener to any concert ever put together. "A Beautiful Day" kicked it off in ideal fashion as the crowd was set adrift by the words of Bono. The song hit a monumental crescendo when a heavenly breeze, reminiscent of a perfect Red Rocks night, picked us all up, and the release of white doves captivated our spirits and set our sights towards the sky. The crowd-stomping "Vertigo" followed the "Blackbird" rap squeezed in at the end of "A Beautiful Day," which led to the well-awaited "One" and "Unchained Melody" that set the day free.
Bono (U2) by Jay Blakesberg
Coldplay followed U2 and began with their A Rush of Blood to the Head single, "In My Place." Like every artist that day, there was a special twist to the lyrical message as Chris sang, "And I like it, I like it, I like it everybody, rockin' all over the world!" calling us back to Live Aid's opener twenty years before by Status Quo and making the crowd go wild. We were blessed with a fantastic "Bittersweet Symphony," featuring Richard Ashcroft of the Verve and then their destined classic, "Fix You," which Coldplay thinks is the best song they've ever written.
Dido was up next, serenading the crowd with beautiful renditions of "White Flag" and "Thankyou." Then Michael Stipe and crew blasted away with "Imitation of Life," a bold and brash blue stripe painted across his eyes like a bandit of love. R.E.M. did what they do best, playing great music to sing and dance to, closing their set with "Man on the Moon" and the compassionate "Everybody Hurts."
Despite a weak song selection by Elton John (minus his Marc Bolan of T-Rex cover "Children of the Revolution," featuring Pete Doherty), there was not one letdown from any artist all night. Groups like Keane and Travis lit up the stage inspiring the masses and proving their worth ten-fold. Keane demonstrated why they are the UK's number one selling artist, throwing out some of the most beautiful vocals and strongest songwriting of the day. Following the rousing sets of music, brief appearances by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Bill Gates pledged to stand behind us to Make Poverty History.
Annie Lennox's slowed down "Why" was paired with a video clip of her recent time spent in Africa. It was both beautiful and difficult to watch this piece and was one of many times tears were heard falling.
The larger-than-life Snoop Dogg sauntered out to a grand reception and forced the censors to open their ears and work the buttons. "What's My Name" and "Drop It Like It's Hot" were fun and put everyone back on-track, as the day was long and just getting started.
Sting from www.peoples.ru
Sting's rendition of "Every Breath You Take" was a bold and haunting message for the leaders of the G8, the backdrop flashing their images, the words "We'll be watching you" ringing out again and again. From the captivating performance of a sophisticated pro like Sting, Live 8 moved to the youngest performer of the night. Joss Stone fooled us all as she paraded around like a veteran star. Her soulful expressions were deep, and her message mighty.
If the day was wearing on people, Velvet Revolver came out like a vigilante monster to wake the house. Slash, Scott Weiland, and crew proved there's still hope for serious rock and roll. Scott won best dressed for the night with his red and black "Colonel's" uniform, as he paraded around the stage, stopping occasionally to slink back against Slash's mountaintop stance. It was obvious that this show was not letting up, nor was the crowd. With each performer, the eruptions were getting bigger and more gelled.
Mariah Carey & African Children's Choir :: Live 8
Mariah Carey was joined by the African Children's Choir to sing three songs, including "Hero," which was dedicated to the kids. Following Mariah's mini-set, The Who came out to tear it up. Proving that they are still as good as any rock musicians performing, Townsend's windmill action and the dirty vocals of Daltry tore down the closing hour, once more bringing the crowd to an intense state of mayhem.
Suddenly, it went black. Softly, but growing louder, the sound of a heart beating was heard, and the restlessness of the crowd began to ferociously unwind. Standing side-to-side with two hundred thousand heads, the first pulse of "Breathe" occurred and was absolutely mesmerizing. Throughout it all, I had a smile pasted on my face that should have hurt. A surreal sense of victory, or perhaps it was euphoria, covered my body as I was about to stand witness to the moment I had only seen in my sleepless nights. I was swimming in the lyrics as the crowd shined like diamonds from the thousands of flashes capturing those seconds. And their sound was flawless, as if the score was played directly from the record. "Money" was impeccable, and the saxophone - golden. Guitarist David Gilmour's declaration; "Money, so they say, is the root of all evil... tooooday!" was a message to the world and its leaders. What followed "Money" was like a memory from my youth - the static coming in through flashes, trying to find the right radio station. "It's actually kind of emotional standing up here with these three guys after all these years," bassist Roger Waters said. "Standing to be counted with the rest of you. Anyways, we're doing this for anyone who is not here, but particularly, of course, for Syd."
And with those words from Roger Waters, the "Wish You Were Here" I had only dreamed of began playing. I held my hands high and helped lead the chorus, singing, "We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year..."
Into "Comfortably Numb" Pink Floyd would venture next, and again, a musical height was reached I never thought I would be lucky enough to be a part of. Nick Mason and Roger Waters exchanged lead vocals. Smiling at one another, bobbing on the bass and drums, acting out the lyrics, they clearly were having as much fun as we were. Then, slowly, the words "Make Poverty History" scripted themselves out along the projected brick walls towering over the stage. This was it. This was the statement by them, by us, by "us and them," not Us against Them, but together, our dream, our words, our stand. Everywhere, people were taking that stand. Like the doves that afternoon, I sailed off into the heavens, looking down at least once to recognize the t-shirt I had almost forgotten - "Pink Floyd Reuniting???? When Pigs Fly." Flying amongst the pigs, the diamonds in the sky, losing my mind to that beautiful symphony dubbed "the greatest reunion ever," I found myself holding onto my brother for safety. Finally, a heartfelt "Thank you" was voiced by the Floyd and then in unison by us, as prayers of thanks were heard everywhere.
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd
To finish the night off, quoting Bob Geldof, "It can only be Paul McCaaaarrttnneeeyyyyy!" "Get Back" led the sermon, and again the message was instrumental in making the night magical. Reminding us to get back to what is important, discarding the complications that cloud our vision, McCartney preached it hard. "Baby, You Can Drive My Car" brought out musical guest George Michael, and the "beep-beep, yeahs!" threw the crowd into a frenzy. Clearly, when Paul told us he still wanted to rock, we had no idea that he was going to select the hardest rockin' Beatles tune ever written. But when the opening riff to "Helter Skelter" poured down like a Caribbean Hurricane in July, it was clear that McCartney meant business. "Helter Skelter!" The White Album. Primordial rock from the sixties! But truly, we had to make an end somewhere, and when the "Long and Winding Road" opened up on the piano before the majestic Beatle, I knew it was due. That Long Walk to Justice was coming close to its end, and a song written thirty years earlier was the thematic derivative of what only needed to be stated. Before the last note rang out, Paul turned it back on us one more time by jumping right into the "Hey Jude" reprise, shouting, "Na, Na, Na- Na-Na-Na... Hey Jude!" Everyone jumped back on stage for this incredible moment. The performers, the speakers, the Children's Choir - together we all stood. Bob Geldof held his hands high, pleaded for us all to be there in Edinburgh, and we all felt that triumphant moment fade until that Beautiful Day was over.
Pink Floyd was the climax of the event. With Waters and Gilmour once again sharing a stage, working their material, and creating history, how could it not be? But nothing was as inspirational as having Bob Geldof introduce an unexpected guest earlier in the night. As a video of the famine-stricken lives played out before us, it paused on one sad little girl's face that you'd swear was about to fade away along with her existence. Reminding us all that in fact our voices do matter and are pertinent in making change happen, that no matter what the critics say, Live Aid was making a difference, an angel appeared. Out stepped Birhan Woldu, who, twenty years ago, with only ten minutes left to live, was saved by the help of Live Aid. She had just finished taking her agricultural exams and came out personally to invoke Hope in all of us and to ask if we were "ready to change history?" It was the most inspirational moment I have ever witnessed and a wonderful reminder of what we were in fact gathered to achieve.
Other performers of the night were the Killers, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Scissor Sisters, Robbie Williams, Ms Dynamite, UB40, Sir Bob Geldof singing "I Don't Like Mondays," and Madonna, who came to the stage following the appearance by Birhan Woldu, their arms held high in yet another stunning moment in the historic making of Live 8.
Today and everyday, each and every one of us must be acutely aware of how truly grateful we are for the food that sits in our cabinets and refrigerators. Regardless of how much time we devote to considering our good fortune, very few, if any, of us can honestly appreciate what we have been blessed with, simply because of where and when we were born. Even with the vision of a thousand men and the compassion of a thousand women, the situation facing millions of our brothers and sisters in Africa would shock us. But on this day, this great day of Hope and Justice, we took a stand. I have learned now that in fact our stand did help change history. So let me tell you about the greatest day I ever witnessed, about a dream that is yours if you want it, about a chance to change the world for evermore by only standing and being counted, for sharing your voice and for setting aside your ego, whatever its size, for the love and compassion, for our sisters and brothers. Live 8 was not the conclusion; it was the beginning. And it is up to us to ensure that words promised are acted upon. For this is what we must do. Not a lone concert, nor a revolution of the people, but a stand for an evolutionary change for all of humanity.
To find out more info about Live 8 and the ONE campaign, visit www.one.org and/or www.makepovertyhistory.org.
Make sure to "Continue Reading" for Live 8 Philadelphia Images...
- Josh Hunter
JamBase | Worldwide