Bob Geldof promised "the greatest concert ever" as he revved up his global jukebox one more time on Saturday. And, with fierce sets from original Live Aid participants U2 and Madonna, a reunion of psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd and the first-ever live performance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by a Beatle, he delivered.
With millions watching the globe-spanning concerts in person (see [article id="1505158"]"In The Crowds At Live 8: Music, Mud And A Shared Desire To Help"[/article]) and an estimated billion or more tuning in to the broadcast for what will likely be the most-watched music event in history, the twin messages of Live 8 were inescapable: "We don't want your money, we want you" and "Three seconds."
The latter was the figure given for how often a child dies in Africa of extreme poverty. Will Smith dramatically illustrated the point by repeatedly snapping his fingers and exhorting the estimated million-plus crowd in Philadelphia to do the same, creating an eerie crackling sound that slammed the point home.
It was just one symbolic gesture in a day full of strong words and energetic performances aimed at influencing this week's G8 conference in Scotland (see [article id="1504853"]"What Is The G8, Anyway?"[/article]).
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
Perhaps the day's highest drama came during a set by Live Aid alum Madonna, who also provided one of the musical highlights with an electric performance of "Like a Prayer." Twenty years after she took the stage as a budding star, Madonna was introduced by concert organizer Bob Geldof, who called her the "queen bee of rock." Geldof also introduced a woman who had had "10 minutes to live" when she was featured 20 years ago in the African-famine documentary that inspired the original concert.
With the dramatic image of her emaciated face frozen on the stage's massive screen, Geldof invited the now grown woman to stand beside him. Smiling broadly during an extended ovation, she urged the crowd to keep up its support and was eagerly embraced by Madonna, who kissed her and held her hand for several minutes.
"Are you ready to start a revolution?" asked Madonna, who, like many of the day's performers, was dressed in an all-white outfit. "Are you ready to change history?" Backed by a choir also dressed in white, Madonna pranced the stage for a spirited gospel-rock rendition of her 1989 hit with the crowd clapping along and repeating the event-appropriate line "I hear your voice." The set also included a run-through of "Music," during which Madonna bumped and grinded with a pair of breakdancers.
The show in London's Hyde Park opened with a historic collaboration between U2 and McCartney, who kicked off the show by teaming up for a live performance of "Sgt. Pepper's." "It was 20 years ago today," McCartney sang in the song's legendary intro, immediately bridging the gap between this consciousness-raising event and 1985's Live Aid, which raised more than $100 million for famine relief in Africa (see "Live Aid: A Look Back At A Concert That Actually Changed The World"[/article]).
Backed by a horn section in brightly colored Sgt. Pepper's outfits, the quintet played in front of an onscreen collage that mimicked the cover of the landmark Beatles album, a pileup of floating faces that included John Lennon, Madonna, Abe Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Nelson Mandela and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Twenty years after they incinerated the stage at Live Aid, U2 burned bright again in London, inspiring the crowd with impassioned takes on "Vertigo," "One" and "Beautiful Day." During the latter, Bono -- dressed in black and wearing his trademark wraparound shades -- inserted the names of all of the day's concert host cities (Barrie, Ontario; Berlin; Johannesburg, South Africa; London; Moscow; Paris; Philadelphia; Rome; and Tokyo). Mid-song, a flock of white doves was released and Bono ended with a few lines from the Beatles' "Blackbird," intoning, "All your life, you have just been waiting for this moment to arise."
"So this is our moment. This is our time. This is our chance to stand up for what's right," Bono said. "Next week, eight of the most powerful men in the world will meet on a golf course in Scotland. The stakes are high. This is our moment. We can make history by making poverty history."
|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.|
In a day of collaborations and duets, two of the most unlikely hookups were also the funkiest. During Stevie Wonder's set in Philly, he traded verses with Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas on a soulful rendition of "Higher Ground," which was topped moments later by Maroon 5's Adam Levine, who hit some stellar falsetto notes on "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours." Wonder closed the show with a blazing take on "Superstitious" that had the entire crowd dancing.
Between Björk playing her first gig in over two years in Japan, the Pet Shop Boys in Moscow, Simple Plan and Jet in Canada, the Cure and Shakira in Paris, the Mahotella Queens and a host of other African artists in Johannesburg, and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw in Rome, the music never stopped.
The London show's emotional finale featured a sing-along with McCartney on "Hey Jude." Joined by, among others, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Mariah Carey, and the Who's Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, Geldof issued his final plea for the day. "We'll see you in Edinburgh," he shouted. It was an invitation to join a massive march scheduled for July 6 in Edinburgh, Scotland, just outside the site of the G8 meeting.
Some highlights from around the world:
Philadelphia @ Philadelphia Museum Of Art
London @ Hyde Park:
Tokyo @ Makuhari Messe:
Berlin @ Siegessäule: