I watched quite a bit of it, but not all of it. These are just my impressions of what I saw. One of the really cool things (IMHO) about Live Aid and Live 8 was that it separated the great musicans from those who are propped up by producers and studio marketing money.
U2’s appearance at Live Aid was what made them into the international stars they are today. Their Live 8 set was was great (playing a song with Paul McCartney didn’t hurt, either!), but they had nothing to prove. They are already on the short list of “greatest rock bands on the planet”, and their Live 8 appearance was another data point in their favor. They were relaxed, professional, and they rocked. They had the unenvialbe position of going first, and they made it look easy. Coldplay had the unenviable position of going next, and they sounded turgid and boring in comparison.
In contrast, Duran Duran were huge in 1985, but their Live Aid set was atrocious and their carreer went into a sharp decline after that. At Live Aid, Simon Le Bon’s voice broke during “A View to a Kill” (which was a horrible song anyway) really badly. It was humiliatingly bad. On Saturday, their set at Circus Maximus was going fine. They were doing “Save a Prayer”, which Le Bon said they had intended to do at Live Aid but ran out of time, and it was sounding pretty good and the Le Bon went for a high note that’s not even in the song and his voice broke again. It wasn’t the long atonal bleating kind of breaking that he did at Live Aid, but it broke. Kind of took the wind out of their sails. Then they went into “Wild Boys” and it was teh suck. It was kind of sad.
I didn’t get to see much of Green Day’s set in Berlin, but what I saw was aces. They did “American Idiot” and gave me a whole new appreciation of the song. The crowd was going nuts, too. They also closed with “We Are the Champions,” which was one of the big moments at Live Aid and (I think) one of Queen’s last performances with Freddy Mercury. Green Day also killed with it.
Joss Stone’s set was barely seen on MTV, but it sounded like she had borrowed Prince’s band for the day, she was in great voice and she worked the crowd like…well, Bono.
I’ve never been a fan of Destiny’s Child, but I have always been a great admirer of Beyonce’s…assests. I saw their set almost by accident, and I didn’t turn it off. She’s got a great set of pipes to go along with her…assets…and I was thoroughly entertained.
Jay Z and Linkin Park’s set was heavily covered by MTV. The rap/metal thing sounded even more awkward than usual, and the band (not Jay Z, whose incredible ego carried him through) looked uncomfortable and timid. The MTV people said the set was “electrifying”, but besides actually being powered by electricity, it didn’t look that way to me.
Velvet Revolver, on the other hand, threw down in London. I tuned in out of morbid curiosity to see the dinosaurs embarass themselves, but they fucking rocked. Slash is a freaking guitar god.
Sting made the right choice of doing all Police songs, and doing them as “old school” as possible. Why couldn’t he have gotten the Police back together to do “Message in a Bottle”, “Driven to Tears” (which rocked), and “Every Breath You Take”? He may not get a career boost out of the concert, but he reminded people that his old stuff was pretty good.
Alijica (sp?) Keys did the sensitive piano/singer/strings thing, and actually made it work. Like Beyonce, I was shocked to hear that she actually has talent!
Stevie Wonder was a fucking pro if ever I saw one. While the song was going on, he was cueing the guy he was dueting with (was it Timberlake?) and singing circles around him. All class. And the crowd ate it up.
The Pink Floyd reunion was emotional, but shaky. Maybe it was its shakiness that lent part of the emotion, if that makes any sense. Live music is kind of like NASCAR in that you’re always kind of looking for the wreck. They seemed to wobble, but they never actually hit the wall. But it was very compelling–at least until MTV cut off the solo in “Comfortably Numb” to go to commercial.
That’s all that pops to mind right now. I want to watch some of the individual performances that I missed while they’re still up on the site.
The biggest loser of the day, IMHO, was MTV, whose coverage couldn’t have been worse if they had deliberately tried to sabotage it. Somebody needs to lose their job over it. Maybe several someones.