Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8 Review

The World's Greatest Concert Ever came and went, for 10 hours from last night till early this morning. So did it live up to its hype? Who were the most outstanding performers?

I have recorded the whole show in my DVD hard disk, but I haven't watched all of the performances. It's 10 hours for goodness sake! But I did catch the bulk of it I guess...

From London, Hyde Park
- Dido --> Life For Rent, White Flag, Thank You
I've never been a huge fan of Dido and I wasn't converted after watching her performance yesterday. She did an unplugged version of Thank You and thanks but no thanks, it didn't bring the house down. Her songs sound good on radio, but they're not the sort of stuff that rocks huge arenas.

- Stereophonics --> Dakota
They performed their latest hit from their new album, and it was a decent effort. Quite enjoyed it.

- Keane --> Somewhere Only We Know
The guitar-less band didn't perform too badly and actually managed to psyche up the crowd even with a rather subdued song like this. The piano player was a little over-enthusiastic though.

- Annie Lennox --> Walking On Broken Glass, Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves, Sweet Dreams
One of the participants of the original Live Aid 20 years ago, Lennox does seem to be a little out of place in the show, especially since she hasn't released any new material in recent years, unlike U2 or Sting. The first 2 songs are unfamiliar to me, and it wasn't until Sweet Dreams that she proved that she could still rock.

- Madonna --> Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light, Music
Madonna was also one of the participants of the original Live Aid, but unlike Lennox, she still maintains some relevance today, even though Music was released 5 years ago. Thankfully, she did not attempt to sing any of her more recent material. American Pie anyone? "I'm drinking a soy latte, it goes into my bodae..." But I must say she still looks quite good though.

- Joss Stone --> Super Duper Love, I Had A Dream
There's no denying that this 18-year-old has a big voice, and she uses it to good effect. Performing the groovy Super Duper Love, she brought the crowd to their feet and demonstrated why she is the new Princess of Soul.

- Scissor Sisters --> Laura, Take Your Mama
The first song was unfamiliar to me, but I loved their live rendition of the latter. I don't know if the female member of the group was singing the same part as the male lead singer or not, but I couldn't really hear her throughout the song. Maybe they just blended sooo well.

- Velvet Revolver --> Fall To Pieces, Slither
This was certainly one of the best performances of the night, as Velvet Revolver brought the house down with their 2 hit songs from their debut album, Contraband. The seasoned pros that they are, they demonstrated class in everything they did, from the military get-up by Scott Weiland to their stage antics. Slash stole the show as always with his heck care attitude, even smoking a cigarette as the cameras rolled away. And he's still wearing the same black leather pants and top hat, amazing.

- Mariah Carey --> Make It Happen, We Belong Together
My first impression was, "Oh my, Mariah IS fat". Sorry, but that was the first thing that came to my mind. However, The Voice was very much still intact, thank goodness. I was half-expecting her to sing Hero, but she chose to sing her current hit instead. After all, the show is as much about plugging your own album as raising awareness about poverty in Africa. A good performance overall.

- Robbie Williams --> We Will Rock You, Let Me Entertain You, Feel, Angels
This has got to be the best performance of the night. Robbie proved why he was the king of British pop as he rocked the 150, 000 crowd in Hyde Park with his infectious energy and charisma. Opening with We Will Rock You, he set the tone for his performance and followed it up with the hyper-catchy Let Me Entertain You. Feel was sublime, but he had the whole of Hyde Park singing Angels with him together...and I mean the WHOLE of Hyde Park. And with good reason too: Angels was recently voted at the Brit Awards as the Best Single for the past 25 years. He sure knows how to put a good show.

From Philadelphia, USA
- Will Smith --> Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It, Switch
I'm sorry, but Will Smith is an actor, not a singer. At most, half a rapper. Philly might be his hometown, but having Will Smith on the show just cheapens it. One of the lowlights of the show. But I must say his speech was rather good.

- Black Eyed Peas --> Where Is The Love, Let's Get It Started, Don't Phunk With My Heart
After watching their performance, I think BEP sound better on record than live. This might be strange, but I think that they tried a little too hard to be hip and happening. The live versions veered quite a bit away from the original such that the songs lose a bit of their identity, and they were shouting and yelling most of the time. Sometimes, it's better to play it straight.

- Alicia Keys --> Unknown song
This was one of the acts I was most looking forward to, but sad to say, Alicia Keys disappointed me with her single (televised) song, and it wasn't anything familiar too. It was definitely low key and low budget, as she played piano with a 4-piece backup, but it wasn't the full band. It was a slow song that wasn't too exciting or moving either.

- Bon Jovi --> Livin' On A Prayer, It's My Life
Livin' On A Prayer was fine, but It's My Life was a bad choice. It's a song that sounds good on record but not so live. Also, Jon Bon Jovi seems to have lost some of the passion for the song (Prayer) 20 years after its release, and he sings it almost casually now. Would have preferred him to sing it was just a little bit more fervour.

- Linkin Park --> Breaking The Habit, In The End
LP was surprisingly subdued and wasn't as lous as I expected them to be. Maybe it's the sound, but I think they lacked energy yesterday. Or maybe the crowd just wasn't responding to them.

- Dave Matthews Band --> American Baby
This was my most anticipated item for the night, but sadly, they only televised one song. I was hoping they would play old favourites like Ants Marching or Tripping Billies and get aired, but it wasn't to be. Their version of American Baby was a little disappointing too, as the finale, where the drums and sax go on a rampage, was quite muffled and I couldn't really hear what they were playing. This was the first time I heard the track live. Maybe I expected too much.

- Kanye West --> Diamonds From Sierra Leone, All Fall Down, Jesus Walks
I'm not a big fan of Kanye, but after watching his various live performances, I know that he is one talented fella. One of the few hip-hop black artistes to perform, Kanye did not disappoint and put up a solid performance.

- Destiny's Child --> Survivor, Say My Name, Girl
This would be one of the last times Destiny's Child take the stage together, now that they recently annoucned that they will be splitting up after their Destiny Fulfilled Tour. The girls are hot as usual and their vocals were good, but were a little let down by the sound system, where Michelle and Kelly were a little drowned by Beyonce. I would have loved them to perform Lose My Breath and Independent Women, but maybe they weren't right for the occasion. Still a good performance overall.

The others
- Green Day --> American Idiot, Holiday, Minority, We Are The Champions
Green Day put on a no-holds-barred performance as they rocked the 150, 000-strong Berlin crowd. They even uttered the F-word several times, and to hear that live on Cable TV, it was shiok. No censored bullshit. This was also one of the better performances of the night, and their closing rendition of We Are The Champions was simply wicked.

- Bryan Adams --> Back To You, All For One
I couldn't recognise Bryan Adams when he took the stage. It wasn't until his name was flashed that I realised that the person with the short, boyish haircut was him! And his complexion seemed to have worsened too. Bryan Adams has been out of the music spotlight for some time now, so it was quite a pleasant surprise to see him back on stage. His choice of songs were, however, questionable. While Back To You was a nice enought tune, it wasn't that well-known and the crowd didn't seem to respond to it much. He did All For One unplugged, with a solo acoustic guitar, so it was rather low-key. Think it would have been better had he chosen Summer Of '69 instead.

- Pet Shop Boys --> Go West
I didn't realise that the Boys are so old! The lead singer had white hair and was balding even! They should rename themselves Pet Shop Men instead! However, the voice remains and their version of Go West was quite good I must say.

Parting Thoughts
There are simply too many performances to be listed here, a testimony to the scale of the event. It certainly lived up to its expectations as the Greatest Concert Ever. Never before have you seen a greater collection of music stars, performing for the same event for free, sharing the same cause. It will go down in history for sure.

In all, it was a music lover's dream to watch 10 hours of solid entertainment, even though some of them did fall short of expectations. Still, it was like a Greatest Hits Tour of Music as each artiste belted out their most famous songs (I'm sure not all were televised).

I was half hoping that MJ would make a special appearance and sing Man In The Mirror and Heal The World, which would be ultra meaningful, but I think it is also better for him to remain out of the spotlight at the moment.

I have recorded the entire show in my DVD hard disk and I will transfer it to DVD for keepsake. Maybe 20 years down the road, there'll be another Live Aid/8. But hopefully it'll be for another cause. Let's hope that poverty will truly be history.


At 12:22 am, Blogger sottovoce said...

I somehow don't think that Joss Stone is that fantastic, live or recorded.
Because I feel that her voice is rather one-tone thru out her songs, meaning she has very little dynamic range and she sounds the same t/o the song. But then again, maybe one day a song of hers will impress me.

What did U2 sing?!!??

Robbie rocks. Angels is nice, but Eternity and She's the One are really heart wrenching. I also liked his duet with Kylie, very old school(where he reportedly tried to shag her) Feel is ultimate. It's a SUPER cool, sei3 song that suits him. I watched one performance where he just stood there with his arms wide open and let the piano part wash over him.

Mariah has been fat since forever lah... ever since that fateful Oscar night in 1998 i think when she sang When You Believe and she wore white and everyone thought she looked like a mermaid.

Not to forget the wonders of airbrushing on the covers of Rainbow, Charmbracelet, #1s and Mimi.

Could I please borrow the concert from you? If you can't bear to part with it, then maybe I pass you some DVD-Rs and you help me burn? Thanks so much. =)


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