Backstage At Live 8: Bono Works The Crowd, Jay-Z Keeps Cool

The entertainment behind the scenes is almost as good as what you see onstage.

LONDON and PHILADELPHIA — Backstage at the Live 8 concerts in Philadelphia and London, the memorable moments came as fast as our correspondents could send them in. Here are some highlights:

  • Perhaps proof that no good deed goes unrewarded, artists playing the London Live 8 concert whiled away their time between sets in a secure backstage compound equipped with massage tables, a cafe area, dressing trailers, catering and a full bar. The true power nexus of the Hyde Park grounds was undoubtedly the area of the artist compound where the dressing trailers for Sir Bob Geldof, Sir Elton John, Coldplay, Annie Lennox and U2 converged in the shape of a large “U.”

  • Bono worked the backstage crowd like a stumping politician (which one could argue he is) with a smile and handshake for anyone who might want one. Meanwhile, Live 8 (and Live Aid) organizer Geldof, rolling with a posse that would make Elvis proud, garnered cheers of “Thank you, Sir Bob!” as he made his way from the main stage to the media compound to greet the press.
  • Artists mingled early and often, even those not on the bill. Former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft was spotted hanging out in Coldplay’s trailer before that band took the stage (apparently hatching a plan for their collaboration during Coldplay’s set on the Verve’s 1997 hit “Bittersweet Symphony”). The guys from Keane were positively beaming in the artist compound before their performance, obviously thrilled to be part of the event. Sting and his wife, actress Trudi Styler, sauntered backstage like rock royalty, elegant and inseparable.
  • Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour may be a rock god to fans, but he looked every bit the family man backstage with lady and children in tow as he made his way to the stage to watch Elton John perform. After Elton’s set, Gilmour chatted with long-estranged Floydmate Roger Waters, even warmly shaking hands — a display that shocked the Floyd fans in the vicinity.

      Live 8 London: Madonna, Snoop, U2, Coldplay, Velvet Revolver
      Live 8 Philadelphia: Black Eyed Peas, Destiny’s Child, Dave Matthews, Kanye West, Alicia Keys
      Live 8 Around The World: Shakira, Audioslave, Good Charlotte, Green Day, Simple Plan


  • Paris Hilton and Ashley Stewart rushed through the backstage area and made their way to the front of the stage to dance and sing along to R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon.” Brittany Murphy shimmied and skipped backstage as Tom Cochran’s “Life Is a Highway” played over the PA.
  • If you’re ever curious about exactly how many cameras are in a room at any given time, send in Paul McCartney. As he made his way through the backstage area, every disposable, digital and cell-phone camera in the hall materialized from out of nowhere. Publicists, journalists, managers and other musicians were all suddenly just fans.
  • Still, amid the assembled A-list entertainers, who attracted the biggest backstage throng? U2? McCartney? Geldof? Nope: Bill Gates. Mo’ money, mo’ problems, apparently.
  • Strangest backstage sighting in London: Actress Faye Dunaway, who made the rounds dressed from head-to-toe in white, adding to the idea that perhaps she was actually some sort of sleep-deprived illusion.
  • In Philadelphia, the backstage scene actually started the night before the show. During soundchecks, Kanye West and Linkin Park seemed to be doing a bit more than talking about mutual admiration. Could they be possibly plotting something onstage or in the studio? Time will tell …
  • Later on Friday night and into Saturday morning, Will Smith held a Live 8 kickoff party at the 23rd Street Armory. Will’s longtime partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff, kept the dance floor packed by playing bangers like Tony Yayo’s “So Seductive,” but when he went into an old-school set with songs like Heavy D’s “We Got Our Own Thang,” a few men in the crowd started breakdancing — one even did a one-handed handstand and started spinning. MC Skillz, Jeff’s hype man, jumped in the crowd and started dancing with the breakers to the sounds of Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time.” Out of nowhere, Grandmaster Caz popped onstage and started rapping “Rapper’s Delight.”
    Live 8 artists stress debt relief, critics of the plan sound off and the G8 summit is explained in “Live 8: A Concert To End Poverty” on Overdrive.

  • As Philadelphia showtime neared on Saturday, the performers’ preferred mode of transportation was not limos, Rolls Royces, Maybachs or even tour buses: White 12-passenger vans were the way to go. There’s a small trailer park on top of a hill near the concert site where production, media and the artists’ dressing rooms are set up. It seems as one act is coming, another is leaving. The Black Eyed Peas were ushered from their trailers and into a van in a light-speed scamper that recalled the A-Team. As the Peas went down the hill, the Dave Matthews Band rolled up in three separate vans.
  • Actor Don Cheadle, in a suit and Timberlands, was walking around the trailer park on the Philly site, looking over a sheet of paper that seemed to be a script. He stopped only to shake hands with one of the organizers and go over some specifics. Nearby, Chris Tucker took in the scene from beneath a white tent that matched his all-white suit, and Russell Simmons could be spotted having a walk-and-talk meeting with a man who looked like he was briefing the mogul on the day’s events.
  • When you’re the first act on the bill to perform, you find yourself with a whole bunch of downtime. After their set, the Kaiser Chiefs laughed and joked while sitting on all-terrain vehicles in the trailer park. They even helped the security make sure nobody got run over. “Watch the car, watch the car!” they yelled in unison to passersby, mocking a security guard who was telling people to get out of the way of a limo that was pulling up.
  • Meanwhile, Will Smith was pulling up in a convoy of black SUVs. He popped out of one, holding his sleeping daughter in his arms, and darted to his dressing room.
  • One fan in the VIP section was obviously at Live 8 more for the politics than the music. Soon after one of rock’s most successful groups had performed, he said, “Bon Jovi? Who cares about him? I want to see Reverend Al [Sharpton].”
  • One fan in the VIP section shared his secret for celebrity photo ops. “Man, I took pictures with everyone today,” he said while Destiny’s Child were performing. “I took pictures with Russell Simmons, Chris Tucker, Jimmy Smits, and you know I’m going to get one with Beyonc√© later. I just tell them, ‘Hey, I’m your fan. Let’s take a picture.’ It works every time.”
  • A few feet away, a woman who looked to be a grandmother’s age was enjoying the concert more than many of the younger spectators, putting her hands on her hips and swirling around in a circular motion while Destiny’s Child played “Survivor.”
  • Unfortunately, a woman several feet away wasn’t enjoying the show as much: She was laid out on a stretcher, surrounded by EMTs. Apparently, she took “Survivor”‘s lyrics to heart, and was walking around with her friend before DC finished their set.
  • In between sets, stagehands began spraying water from a hose onto the sun-drenched crowd (see “In The Crowds At Live 8: Music, Mud And A Shared Desire To Help” ). Few seemed to mind and raised their hands in the air — but one woman sneered, “If I wanted a bath, I would take one.”

  • Another timeless moment: Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff dancing backstage while watching Kanye West perform “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks.”
  • After Will Smith’s performance (see “Jay-Z, U2, Madonna, Pink Floyd Deliver Live 8 Highlights” ), his drumline wanted to keep the party going. So they kept drumming away as they walked through the trailer park.
  • Biding his time before his performance with Linkin Park, Jay-Z chilled in his white passenger van while bodyguards circled the vehicle.
  • Paris Hilton and Faye Dunaway were among those who made their way to the area in front of the Hyde Park stage during Velvet Revolver’s set. Apparently everyone loves a man in a good top hat.
  • The backstage accessory of the day in London? Hands down, the cowboy hat. From Paris to dozens of hangers-on, it’s the gear of choice. A close runner-up: cell phones with no connectivity.
  • With so much heat in Philly, people were bound to show some flesh. Among the many once-hidden tattoos put on display was on a picture of Biggie and Bob Marley sharing a smoke, which adorned a man’s back.
  • Meanwhile, “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul, wearing a slinky black backless dress, was spotted posing for pictures with local police officers and fans before being whisked away to the ultra-exclusive VIP area. Afterward, one cop was heard telling his commanding officer, “Yo, chief, you just missed it. Paula Abdul was standing right there. Right there!” “Are you kidding me?” the chief responded, looking for Abdul. Seconds later another officer walked up and excitedly asked, “Hey, did you guys just see Paula Abdul?”
  • Elle MacPherson and members of the Killers were seen rushing from the backstage area toward the Hyde Park stage as the reunited Pink Floyd finally made their return.
  • Slash, Brittany Murphy and Travis’ Fran Healy weaved through photographers to get a peek at the Who during that band’s brief London set.

Get involved: Learn about the poverty crisis in Africa, the proposed solutions, and how you can help. Plus find all of our coverage of the international Live 8 concerts and more at our thinkMTV Live 8 hub.