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for July 11, 2005

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Is Eight Enough?
by Mike Sauter

Bob Geldof called out to the London crowd shortly before the Live 8 finale, "Ladies and Gentlemen, have you ever seen anything like it in your lives?"
Ummm, yes.. twenty years ago. And, frankly, better.
Okay, it was cool that U2 and Paul McCartney belted out "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" at the start of the show to make the connection ("It was twenty years ago today...") that Live 8 comes at nearly the two-decade anniversary of Live Aid.
But it was very telling that U2's anthemic high point in 2005 was "One" with its use of the question mark as its predominent puncutation, contrasting with the band's career-defining 1985 performance apex of "Bad"--a declarative anthem using the exclamation point as punctuation of choice.
Unlike Live Aid, which was easily explainable and very direct in its origin--people are dying, give money to help them--Live 8 was much more of a question mark. Umm, Sir Bob? You want us to do what exactly? March to where? Or just text-message who, and demand what?
One can therefore forgive Sir Paul for crying out "Do you wanna get back? I wanna get back!" during his performance of--duh--"Get Back" (although one must note that McCartney's entire Live Aid/Live 8 oeuvre includes nothing post-Beatles).
So the past is the predominent musical touchstone for Live 8--but a rather jumbled past with the puzzle pieces not quite fitting snugly together, in a way that would have brilliant if it was intentional.
Like when Robbie Williams in London kicked off his set with Queen's "We Will Rock You," while earlier in Berlin, Green Day did a version of "We Are the Champions" (with frontman Billie Joe Armstrong frighteningly nailing Freddie Mercury intonation of "Neeoah time for losers..."). But such purposefulness was doubtful.
At least the Pink Floyd reunion was brilliant. Gilmour and Waters may look like the aging Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth from the TV series Emergency! but, man, can they still play. Gilmour is still a guitar hero, and Waters looked relaxed and enjoying himself. Breezing through Dark Side of the Moon's "Breathe" and "Money," the title cut from "Wish You Were Here," and The Wall's "Comfortably Numb," it made the whole day worthwhile.
To its eternal shame, MTV cut away from the Pink Floyd reunion. [And may they never cease publicly flagellating themselves for it. - Ed.]
Perhaps the cable network was a little jumpy twenty years ago during Live Aid--with Alan Hunter narrating annoyingly over part of Elvis Costello's otherwise great solo version of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love"--but it was downright A.D.D. during this go 'round (with emphasis on the "disorder"). It's as if the channel was pissed that they actually had to play some of that "music" that's in the network name instead of the usual diet of reality game shows, corporate promotion, and musical lip service.
Interestingly, ABC's highlights show edited the word "shit" from Pink Floyd's "Money" yet kept intact the "who the fuck are you?" line from The Who's "Who Are You" at 8:50pm. ABC is also to be shamed, however, as they cut away from Pink Floyd's "Money" before it ended.
Although the Floyd reunion generated heat, apparently no one could generate enough excitement to induce Kenny Jones to reunite with The Who. Zack Starkey plays drums for The Who these days, leading one to question whether any new album should be titled Who's Left? Townshend looked like a French vintner and Daltrey looked somehwat surprised to be there, like if Willie Aames was somehow cast in a hot new sitcom.
But, hey--in Philadelphia, Will Smith brought out a drum line while shouting "that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!", as if some dude on a tri-tom somehow punk'd the whole world. So who can critique anything within Live 8 when it gets this surreal?
At least Joan Baez wasn't blurting out "This is your Woodstock!" at this one.
And, at least, there was some cause in mind and not just a shameless bid for nostalgia-fueled commerce (that was your Woodstock, Joan). As Bono said, "We can't fix every problem, but those we can, we must."
So from now on, let's all encourage Paul McCartney never to perform only the coda to "Hey Jude" as a cheap ploy for an all-star singalong.
After all, we can't fix every problem. But those we can, we must.

©2005 Mike Sauter

[The preceding originally appeared at Mike's Minutiae, which is Mike Sauter's little corner of cyberspace. Mike has graciously permitted its appearance here at Altrok.]

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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