Flip Flop Flying

Yesterday’s event

with 11 comments

I imagine I’m the eight millionth person to write something about Live 8 on their blog, but here goes…

Berlin seemed to be going about its business as usual. There was no sense that something major was happening until you got close to Tiergarten. Even at Potsdamer Platz, a close-by shopping centre with some cinemas and offices skirting it, folks seemed more interested in the Pope’s old car (remember the one from the recent eBay auction? Well, it’s sat in a shopping centre in Berlin now covered in banners for a casino’s website. There’s something deliciously wrong about the leader of the Roman Catholic church’s ex-auto now being used as an advert for gambling).

The place where Live 8 was held was the Strasse des 17 Juni, a big avenue that runs between the Brandenburg Gate and the Siegessäule. A rubbish venue compared to all the others we later saw on TV. It’s a street with loads of trees along each side, so it’s really narrow, and unless you got there hours before there was no hope of seeing anything other than the top of the stage. And only then if you stood on tip toes.

There was talk of the organisation of the show being a bit of a cock-up in the lead up to the show. That was highlighted by the official t-shirts saying “Live 8, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin” when the stage itself was at the Siegessäule (a bit like saying, let’s eat dinner in the lounge, then congregating at the door and looking back into the kitchen). This choice of where to put the stage bewilders me. 200-odd thousand people all having to stare directly into the sun the whole afternoon. Thanks for that, Live 8 Berlin, you did a great job in Making Eyesight History.
After wandering through the park and beginning to hear music getting louder, we got to the show just as German band Bap were coming on. I’ve always found their name amusing, but never heard their music. When I’ve asked people in the past what they were like, I always got howls of displeasure in response. Now I’ve listened to them I can suggest that you don’t listen to their music, people: it’s tawdry.

We made our way forward, to see how close we could get for Brian Wilson, passing the ice cream vendors who were making their own poverty history, passing a couple sat on the floor playing a flute and a bongo while one of the bands was playing, and, well, we didn’t get very far. So we doubled back to where some big screens had been erected, just in time to see Elton and Pete do their T-Rex cover in London, we got a beer, and settled-in (if that’s the right word) to wait for big Bri.
Audioslave, Green Day, ooh Tim Robbins talking about stuff just like in Team America, some anonymous German sound-a-like bands (Juli and Silbermond), and then… well, we decided to go home.
The delays between bands coming on stage were really long, the thought of squinting at a big screen with a two or three second delay between the pictures and the sound, and the temptation to see the far better London show on telly; it was all telling us to get in the car, dash home and watch Brian in our armchairs.

An aside, the first of two: as we walked back to the car, I saw an adult man wearing a t-shirt with Wiley Coyote on it. Isn’t there something ever-so-slightly tragic about seeing adults with cartoon characters on their t-shirts?

An aside, the second of two: wretched German singer Sasha was performing at the show. His music really is awful, and he’s got one of those faces you wanna smash in with a rusty axe. Not to be confused with top British DJ Sasha who, I seem to remember, the German Sasha tried to legally stop from using the name, even though, and I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the British fellow was around long before he was. So anyway, not to be confused with the top British DJ Sasha. Aaaah, but the folks who did the official Live 8 “event book” did confuse them, and wrote a glowing biog of the top British DJ Sasha. How we chuckled thinking that wretched German loserboy Sasha has been written out of the event! Put that in your scrapbook, Sasha’s mum!

Back at home, we’re flicking between two TV channels who themselves are flicking between the venues. And Brian comes on. Cuddly old Brian, forgetting some words, waving his hands around, looking a bit bemused, but smiling. Doing the fairly complex Heroes And Villains to a crowd that doesn’t look like it knows who this old chap is, and certainly aren’t ready for a gloriously detailed multi-sectioned song like Heroes And Villains. God Only Knows, California Girls, Good Vibrations and Fun Fun Fun follow: all lovely, and much better from the armchair than it would’ve been had I been shielding my eyes from the sun, watching Brian move his mouth on the big screen then hearing his words a few seconds later becauses of the delay of the big screen.
Of the big screen.

The rest of Live 8 we watched on and off, whilst trying to book a holiday online like the comfortable Europeans we are.
For me, from what I saw, Madonna seemed one of the best artists there. Like A Prayer, Music and Ray Of Light all sounded great. And it’s good to hear some of her best songs to help remember that she’s not just the wife of a shit film director and a member of some weird culty thing.
I also enjoyed Pink Floyd a lot, and shook my head with the are-they-really-back-together?-ness of it all. I fucking love David Gilmour’s guitar playing, and I was so happy to hear them playing Money: my favourite guitar solo EVER.
It was painful to see Morten Harket having difficulty reaching the high notes in Take On Me, (a song which has, for me, become synonymous with a tragic moment in an Austrian film called Böse Zellen, [the English title is Free Radicals]. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean. If not, and you fancy a depressing evening: go rent it, dude!).
Stevie Wonder always makes me happy, although seeing this Rob Thomas fellow sing with him was a bit odd. I want to hear Stevie sing Higher Ground not some dude who’s not fit to lick Stevie’s shoes. Don’t people have any humility? Where does Rob Thomas get off thinking he’s a good enough singer to be on the same stage as Stevie Wonder? Okay, Stevie may well have asked him to do it, but were I Rob Thomas, I’d have declined: Stevie, sing it yourself, that’s what the world wants to hear. You are a god. I am nothing but a lucky chancer.
Didn’t Bryan Ferry learn after Live Aid? His whistling on Jealous Guy is still crappy 20 years later.
Did you see Duran Duran? Doesn’t Andy Taylor look like Neil Young?
Anyone see Pet Shop Boys in Moscow? Were they good?
Any of you go to any of the concerts? How was it? You enjoy it on telly?

I’m trying not to be cynical about it all. I have no doubt that most people who played did it with good intentions (although I’m equally sure a few heard cash registers ker-chinging). I imagine most people who went to the show agreed with the main thrust of the idea behind the event. I just wonder how much good it’ll do. This is one of the problems I have with having star-studded concerts for these causes: it allows leaders to dismiss the motives of the audience turning up, it makes it easy for them to think that the people were there to see Robbie Williams or Coldplay for free, not because they want change.
The leaders of these eight nations have more than enough life experience to know that very few of us are so dedicated to causes that we continue in these large numbers to demand change. Won’t they just throw us a bone, promise X million pounds/dollars/euros/yen over X amount of years, money that more than likely is pocket change to them, that they can spin so it sounds like some major effort?
Su
rely it’s up to us to change things. It doesn’t take a second to sign the list, so if you’ve not done so already: get going, homeboys and homegirls.
And if we all did something small, things might happen. For my part, the first thing I’m gonna do is stop ranting about the rudeness of the folk in local coffee shops and find one that uses fair-trade coffee and just get my fancy cappuccinos there.

Written by Craig

July 3rd, 2005 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

11 Responses to 'Yesterday’s event'

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  1. Hear Hear! (Or should that be here here… I never did know.)

    I watched Live8 from the comfort of my own home. I was a little disappointed with some aspects of the London concert, but overall, I thought it was an awesome show.
    However, I wish very much that I could have been in Paris… Some of my favourite acts were performing there, and I had to settle for a 2″ slow, crackly webcast from AOL.

    I really enjoyed Placebo and The Cure, but was extremely annoyed by the infinitely long sound-checks… which were (on the BBC at least) covered up by inane interviews.

    Anyway, the most important point is that it has raised awareness, and I too have signed the list.

    lonely_orange

    3 Jul 05 at 3:44 pm

  2. I was lucky enough to be at the London concert and even luckier (is ‘luckier’ a real word?) to be close to the front. It was a beautiful thing! Madonna was good, Stereophonics, Razorlight, U2, Coldplay were all ace. Shame The Killers only got to do one song. In fact, they were all pretty ace. Although when UB40 performed, I think people realised just how much their backs and feet were hurting, and decided to shuffle around a bit, maybe go to the burger van…
    Amazing to think all those people came together for such a good thing, though I suppose alot were just there for a free concert

    Anna

    3 Jul 05 at 6:43 pm

  3. I was at the London concert too! I managed to stay in one place (right in the middle) without eating anything and having to go to the loo for about ten hours. What stamina! It was really really good, but just annoying about the whole in between acts thing that took ages and made the thing overrun by hours. I had to leave before the end, which was a bit disappointing. I really don’t know if it will make any difference at all. I’d like to think so, although I think it’s a bit over optimistic to say that even the G8 people can end poverty now. It’s just not going to happen. There are always going to be people living on the poverty line. Even in the UK. But, good cause and great music, so I’m not complaining! Felt a bit bad for Mariah Carey when she got booed though. She’s a diva, but she didn’t deserve that. It was embarrassing. Anyway, there’s my little essay. I have a cool mini video clip of everyone clapping to ‘We Will Rock You’ if you want to put it on here?

    Tori

    4 Jul 05 at 10:23 am

  4. The only two minutes of the whole thing I really felt were valuable were those when Andrew Marr spoke to Jonathan Ross about, y’know, what’s actually going on with the G8 and Africa. He did what he’s so good at, i.e. laying out complex political issues in a no-nonsense, realistic, easy-to-understand way. He really is a great broadcaster.

    So, according to him, making developing nations self-sufficient comes down to:

    + Aid, for the pressing problems
    + Debt relief
    + Fairer trade rules
    + Good governments in developing countries

    That’s why Mariah Carey singing “Hero”, and 8 million bands across seven hundred countries in front of 36 billion sunburned people just fills me with a fair helping of cynical bile. We know what the world has to do, Andrew Marr’s told us. All this “awareness raising” costs a vast amount of money, takes up a whole lot of people’s attention, and won’t make a jot of difference because it’s a one-off thing that everyone is already forgetting right now.

    You want to Make Poverty History? Fine, send 50% of your net income to someone with less money than you, for the rest of your life. Of course, then you’d probably have to get a smaller house/flat, and maybe not buy every Coldplay album when it comes out, maybe a few less DVDs, drink less… oh, sorry, is this sounding like a bit too much sacrifice? How about just going to a free concert for ten hours and calling it quits? Yes? Alright then.

    I know I’m cynical, but Making Poverty History, or anything like that, requires big, long-term effort. A huge massive one-off event seems to be the antithesis of that. We had Live Aid. We had Band Aid. We’ve had Live8. What, will we do this every 20 years, for the rest of time?

    pauldwaite

    4 Jul 05 at 10:59 am

  5. Here’s the clip that Tori mentioned. Thanks Tori.

    The points you attribute to Andrew Marr seem spot on. Not quite sure about everyone giving up half of their income. The thing that I think is depressing is, not matter how pressing the issue of last Christmas’ tsunami was, suddenly governments managed to find huge amounts of money to throw around cos there seemed to be a global governmental one-upmanship contest. And will we, the citizens of those nations, miss that money that got sent to people who needed it? Not really. Enough of our taxes get wasted on shit we don’t care about (“new fighter jets? mmm, yes please!” most of the people don’t say) The governments have enough of our taxes to donate a shitload of money (donate as in aid and debt-relief), and put in place a system of fair trade. We all may, in the long run feel the pinch, but fuck it, it’s a pretty small pinch comparitively.

    Craig

    4 Jul 05 at 11:20 am

  6. I also watched the London show from home, but not by choice. I had to decided if going to Berlin or London was more important than leaving Europe at the end of the year for someplace warm, so I stayed home.

    The London show was great!

    J

    4 Jul 05 at 10:09 pm

  7. that should have said ‘Berlin or Paris’, not ‘Berlin or London’.

    J

    4 Jul 05 at 10:11 pm

  8. The Pet Shop Boys were appropriately fabulous on the feed on Phoenix.

    There’s a good explanation in the Tagesspiegel of what went down with the Berlin location that seems very plausible — Sir Bob wanted the Brandenburg Gate in the background, which wasn’t really possible because of construction, but mucked up the potential for better spots (why not just Alex?).

    The Big A

    5 Jul 05 at 11:14 am

  9. I missed that bit on Phoenix, sadly.
    I read somewhere else that the organisers had also wanted to have it in front of the Reichstag, but Berlin’s decision makers stood in their way.

    Craig

    5 Jul 05 at 11:23 am

  10. Yeah, apparently they were worried about the sprinkler system on the lawn there and Thierse said you couldn’t go putting up the stage while the Bundestag was in session.

    Sounded really like not enough time.

    The Big A

    5 Jul 05 at 11:48 am

  11. And all those hedges would’ve been destroyed!

    It’s strange really, with all the lovely open space you feel as you go around Berlin that there was nowhere for it to be.
    The car park in front of the Olympiastadion could’ve been doable, I guess.

    Craig

    5 Jul 05 at 11:57 am

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