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?
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.