Come together, in every nation
July 13th, 1985 saw the biggest concert the world has ever known. Live Aid.
Rightfully so, as one of the biggest stars in the music world at that time, Madonna was invited to perform at the US leg of the Worldwide Concert at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.
With her fiance watching in the wings, those 18 minutes and 11 seconds changed her life. Following a short set by Kool & The Gang, Madonna was introduced to the world by Bette Midler as ‘a woman whose name has been on everyone’s lips for the last six months, a woman who pulled herself up by her bra-straps…. and who’s been known to let them down occasionally‘ – a catty, but tongue-in-cheek reference to the recent Playboy and Penthouse photo ‘scandal’ which Madonna had endured so classily. Bette went onto state ‘she’s great, she’s hot, she’s a lot like a virgin, she’s Madonna!’
Only Madonna could start her show to the biggest audience she would ever play to with her back to the crowd, only revealing herself with a cheeky half-circle jump round to face them. God only knows what was going through her mind playing to not only her first stadium full of people, but following an introduction like that!
Considering half the planet were watching her at that point she showed few signs of nerves – quite an achievement considering how much we since know her to suffer. This was the first time most of the general public had had to seen our Mads perform live. The Virgin Tour, which only ended weeks earlier only played to US arena crowds. With a rather odd costume, not quite ‘old skool bangles and crucifixes’ and not yet quite True Blue era, Mrs Ritchie looked a little, well, frankly odd. The gold gypsy earrings and rather unstyled hair didn’t improve the look either. But her trusty backing dancers from the Tour, performing for the last time with her, looked more ridiculous so all was not lost.
Her set consisted of worldwide fave ‘Holiday‘, which was performed simply with the customary stop in the middle so Mads could say hi and thank her peers for coming. Next up was current smash hit ‘‘ which was performed in the Virgin Tour style with Mads showing off her excellent tambourine skills. Bravo. Finally, and excitingly for fans, a brand new song no-one had heard before – the aptly titled ‘Love Makes The World Go Round‘ – completed the set. For this new song she was joined by the Thompson Twins, who were enjoying their very brief five minutes in the limelight, and Like A Virgin album producer Nile Rodgers.
The performance of the song remains its only live airing ever, and sadly is one Mrs Ritchie would probably prefer to forget. To say her tuning was off-key is to be kind. The recent DVD compilers of ‘the biggest show on earth’ clearly agreed as it was omitted from the DVD tracklisting. Shame for us fans though. Madonna’s set was followed in the broadcast schedule by Freddie and Brian from Queen returning to the stage they had so emphatically owned earlier in the day, Paul McCartney‘s return to public performance after a long hiatus, with his technological-nightmare-ridden performance of Let It Be, and then the London all-star finale of Do They Know It’s Christmas. Did the schedulers realise how aptly they had positioned future-legend-in-her-own-right Madonna’s set? Unlikely, but it remains to this day probably the biggest single day of exposure in her career, one put into perspective by her crowning glory at the Live 8 concert a full twenty years later, showing she is the biggest star in the world.