A Live 8 review from Mtv.com
Bob Geldof promised “the greatest concert ever” as he revved up his global jukebox one more time on Saturday. And, with fierce sets from original Live Aid participants U2 and Madonna, a reunion of psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd and the first-ever
The latter was the figure given for how often a child dies in Africa of extreme poverty. Will Smith dramatically illustrated the point by repeatedly snapping his fingers and exhorting the estimated million-plus crowd in Philadelphia to do the same, creating an eerie crackling sound that slammed the point home.
It was just one symbolic gesture in a day full of strong words and energetic performances aimed at influencing this week’s G8 conference in Scotland.
Perhaps the day’s highest drama came during a set by Live Aid alum Madonna, who also provided one of the musical highlights with an electric performance of “Like a Prayer.” Twenty years after she took the stage as a budding star, Madonna was introduced by concert organizer Bob Geldof, who called her the “queen bee of rock.” Geldof also introduced a woman who had had “10 minutes to live” when she was featured 20 years ago in the African-famine documentary that inspired the original concert.
With the dramatic image of her emaciated face frozen on the stage’s massive screen, Geldof invited the now grown woman to stand beside him. Smiling broadly during an extended ovation, she urged the crowd to keep up its support and was eagerly embraced by Madonna, who kissed her and held her hand for several minutes.
“Are you ready to start a revolution?” asked Madonna, who, like many of the day’s performers, was dressed in an all-white outfit. “Are you ready to change history?” Backed by a choir also dressed in white, Madonna pranced the stage for a spirited gospel-rock rendition of her 1989 hit with the crowd clapping along and repeating the event-appropriate line “I hear your voice.” The set also included a run-through of “Music,” during which Madonna bumped and grinded with a pair of breakdancers.
The show in London’s Hyde Park opened with a historic collaboration between U2 and McCartney, who kicked off the show by teaming up for a live performance of “Sgt. Pepper’s.” “It was 20 years ago today,” McCartney sang in the song’s legendary intro, immediately bridging the gap between this consciousness-raising event and 1985’s Live Aid, which raised more than $100 million for famine relief in Africa.
Backed by a horn section in brightly colored Sgt. Pepper’s outfits, the quintet played in front of an onscreen collage that mimicked the cover of the landmark Beatles album, a pileup of floating faces that included John Lennon, Madonna, Abe Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Nelson Mandela and Arnold Schwarzenegger.