The Greatest Show in the History of the World
London Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
July 2nd, 2005 – by: Isabetlog
Nearly twenty years ago to the very day, on 13 July 1985 at the Wembley Stadium in London - and simultaneously at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia - Live Aid took place. It was The Day That Music Changed The World. Broadcast live all over the world, it was an extraordinarily unforgettable event as people across the planet united as one for a single cause to save Ethiopia from a terrible famine that plagued millions of its people.
It all started in November of 1984 with a TV news report on the Ethiopian famine situation, which aroused, concerned and touched Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats.
The following summer, Band Aid snowballed and translated into Live Aid, the first ever charity concert of legendary proportions. Again spearheaded by Bob Geldof, Live Aid was organized in a time of technological deficiency - with no PCs, emails, fax machines, IDD, PDAs or mobile phones, where communication was done solely via telex and overseas calls had to be scheduled through operators hours in advance - Live Aid still managed to assemble the 80â€™s A-list of chart-toppers.
Until Live 8.
Billed as The Greatest Show In The History Of The World, Sir Bob broke his promise of twenty years to reprise his role as organizer of yet another global music event and continued the UKâ€™s mission from twenty years ago. It had now expanded from a trans-Atlantic showdown to a multi-continent demonstration. This time around, however, it was no longer a call for charity, but one for justice.
In response to Make Poverty History, the UKâ€™s campaign for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), Geldof once again brought together a whole breed of rock aristocracy to reign over the world.
But it was in Londonâ€™s Hyde Park where the worldâ€™s spotlight was on, where over 200,000 people were packed, and filling the space above their heads with flags, banners, balloons, flowers and frisbees. At 2pm, Paul McCartney and Bono instantly ignited a surge of emotion that lasted the whole day as they opened the show with Sgt.
Coldplay followed with In My Place. Chris Martin punctuated the end with Status Quoâ€™s Rockinâ€™ All Over The World - the song that opened Live Aid in â€™85 - with his right hand on his chest, Make Poverty History whiteband on his wrist.
Billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates, who has donated close to ÂŁ3 million for poverty relief, then took to the stage with his own message, â€śthe generosity we are asking for can save millions of livesâ€¦we can do this and when we do, it will be the best thing humanity has ever done.â€ť He then introduced Dido, who dueted with one of the most celebrated African artists, Senegalese singer, Youssou Nâ€™Dour, performing an angelic and heart warming Thank You and 7 Seconds.
The next acts that followed were the Stereophonics, a blue-stripe faced Michael Stipe and the rest of R.E.M., Ms. Dynamite, Keane and Travis. All impassioned by the cause, they each asserted the reason for their presence, the gravity of the situation and the substance of our support. So touching were their performances and messages there was hardly a dry eye in the Park.
Breaking yet another promise to not perform, out again came Sir Bob for an impromptu number, his one and ever popular I Donâ€™t Like Mondays. Delivered almost the same way as in Live Aid, there, too, was the classic pregnant pause after â€śand the lesson today is how to die!â€ť Though everyone was clapping with their hands over their heads singing and dancing along, there was redness everywhere in peopleâ€™s eyes and noses.
But for some, like veteran Annie Lennox, Live Aid was a missed opportunity. Having lost her voice, the Eurythmicsâ€™ involvement was impossible. Unwilling to pass up her chance this time around, her voice back to its original solid state, she opened with a heart-rending and chilling version of Why and topped it off with a thunderous classic, Sweet Dreams, proving to still be in top form.
Next were UB40, Snoop Dog and Razorlight. Then came another highlight of the day, an unsettling short film from 1984 on the Ethiopian famine. It featured Birhan Woldu, a young girl then moments away from deathâ€™s door.
Second-timer Queen of Pop Madonna then stepped in and held her hand as she set off to sing Like A Prayer. A kiss and a hug with Birhan after was more emotion than the audience could endure as a collective tingling of spines and rising of hairs transpired.
Newcomers Snow Patrol and The Killers played shorter sets. The former doing hits Chocolate and Run, and the latter taking advantage rocking the crowd with their sole number, All These Things That I Have Done. A barefoot Joss Stone stepped up after, followed by the spangly Scissor Sisters. The Velvet Revolver were the only metal heads to hit the stage.
Pop diva Mariah Careyâ€™s stint was eclipsed between Stingâ€™s and Robbie Williamsâ€™ performances. Earlier, the ex-Police man repeated his Live Aid repertoire of Message In A Bottle, Driven To Tears and Every Breath You Take to a welcoming audience.
A brilliant though short two-song set from The Who followed with Who Are You and Wonâ€™t Get Fooled again. Then, the most anticipated act of the evening - the return of Pink Floyd. It was a historical moment all on its own as Dave Gilmore and Roger Waters had unpredictably reunited after 25 years for Live 8. Breathe, Money, Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb were all carried out like it was only yesterday that they played last.
And finally, Sir Paul McCartney. The supreme ruler of the entire rock arena. He bookended a most spectacular day, and wrapped up with a string of Beatlesâ€™ hits.
Live 8 truly lived up to its label of being the greatest show in the history of the world. As one UK writer put it, â€śPassion for music came second to compassion for fellow man.â€ť Aside from the 200,000 people that were live witnesses to the Hyde Park phenomenon, 5 billion others watched on TV, according to Britainâ€™s News of the World - another record-breaking 8 out of 10 people tuned-in.
Live 8 also holds the record for holding the biggest internet audience in history where over a million people logged on to www.live8live.com. And not just to catch the best performers strut their stuff on stage, but in support of the Make Poverty History campaign, to put pressure on the leaders of the 8 most powerful nations by simply being there, to live up to their promise to eradicate poverty though debt relief, fair trade and more and better aid.
Such are the problems correlated with poverty.
And thatâ€™s not all. According to the Live 8 program figures, â€śover a billion people lack access to safe drinking water,â€ť another billion people, or â€ś1 in 6 of the global population, live on less than 65pence ($1) a day. Womenâ€™s reproductive health services, which would make childbirth safer, would cost $12 billion a year, the amount Europe and the US currently spend on perfume alone. Basic healthcare and nutrition would cost $13 billion a year. The EU and the US currently spend $17 billion on pet food.
Where Make Poverty History is the GCAPâ€™s rallying cry for its White Band Campaign in the UK, in the US it is One, and different others in over 60 other countries. Locally it is No More Excuses, Philippines. Initiated by Rock Ed Philippines, it aims for the very same targets, plus those outlined by the UNâ€™s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - through youth education via new media - eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child morality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development.
What Live 8 has accomplished so far is the G8â€™s doubling of aid to $50 billion.
â€śIt is not the kings and generals who make history, but the masses of the people,â€ť says Nelson Mandela. It is entirely up to us to mobilise and act together. Continuously and relentlessly. Only we can make these changes happen. Our leaders are aware of their accountability to the people of the world and they know weâ€™re keeping a close eye on them.
This year may be our last chance to free ourselves, and the millions of others around the world, from poverty in ages to come. At the rate weâ€™re going, it happens only once every 20 years. And through a pop concert, no less. â€śWhat a stupid way to run the world,â€ť argues Sir Bob.
So let us take heed in the words of Nelson Mandela, â€śSometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. Let us be that great generation. Make history in 2005. Then we can all walk with our heads held high.â€ť
Let us all join in on The Long Walk to Justice.
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