Live 8 Coverage

Back to me, then. I’ve been extremely flattered by the feedback I’ve received on my Live 8 coverage. The photos have quickly shot up my most viewed chart on Flickr – positions 2,3,6,7,8 and 9, as well as 11 to 19 – and there are some really pleasant comments. The Bill Gates shot was languishing at 150 views or so until Wednesday, when it suddenly shot up to 650. It must be linked from somewhere, I guess.

I’ve also had some very kind emails about the blog writeups, including one from the London Evening Standard who asked if I’d write something for their letters page. Due to not receiving the email for a while, I ended up with a 45 minute deadline for 200 words. I cobbled something together and emailed it off, then made the huge mistake of re-reading it a couple of hours later; it seemed awful! I got hold of an e-copy of yesterday’s paper, feeling a little guilty about looking for myself when the first 20 pages detailed a terrorist attack. But that’s silly, there’s no point thinking like that. I wasn’t in there, and looking at what they did publish I should have styled it differently. Still, it was still great to be asked!

Many thanks to all the people who’ve said nice things – I really appreciate it!

Live 8: Final Thoughts

Sunset at Live8If I have any regrets, I wish we’d moved into the crowd a little sooner. I’d love to have sung along with Keane, properly watched Bob Geldof perform ‘I don’t like Mondays’, and swayed to ‘Everybody Hurts’. But, if I’m truthful, I don’t know whether I’d have lasted. I was approaching the limit of my standing ability after seven hours in one spot, and we were in a great place for a view of the finale so I’m glad we didn’t move. It wasn’t like we wasted the time either – we needed food etc.! I shall buy the DVD and catch up on the parts I missed.

I have a tendency to iconify pop stars, and it was an interesting experience being able to actually see these terribly famous people. Quite inspiring, really. Call me slow, but it brought it home that they’re just people – here are people just like me, but they’re on stage performing for two billion worldwide. It may be a pretentious thing to say, but all that really stands between anybody and greatness is hard work.

Even taking into account my propensity for hero worship, Bob Geldof is now my role model. He saw an opportunity to make a difference and took it. I’m sure there were no shortage of people quite willing to tell him that it would be a pointless gesture, or that nobody would pay any attention, or any number of reasons why he shouldn’t bother. But he did, and look what he’s accomplished. Of course there were hundreds of other people involved, but he appears to have been the driving force. His eloquence, passion and sheer dynamism were an inspiration. I want to be like that! Having seen him in the flesh, it doesn’t seem as out of reach as it once did.

Whether the Make Poverty History goals are achieved in full or just in part, there can be no doubting that the world stepped back and took notice this weekend. Political change via entertainment in front of a hostile media (who quickly changed their tune come Sunday morning) – it’s an amazing achievement. I’m not going to say I was ‘part of it’, but I was there. And that’s something I can tell the grandkids.

It was one hell of an experience, and many thanks to Lil for being such great company, to the lady who gave me her tickets, and to her friend’s dog, who nine weeks ago felt a little horny.

Live 8: Memorable Moments

A few things I jotted down that haven’t really fitted in anywhere else…

Bob Geldof on Stage

The guy standing behind us during the Pink Floyd set was apparently a huge fan of theirs, and we knew when exciting things were happening because he kept saying ‘oh my god’. Apparently the band members putting their arms around each other was a big moment! Good for him – it’s nice to see such enthusiasm.

Large beach balls (and inflatable fish) flew around the audience from time to time, relying on people to punch them back up into the air. One landed on me twice.

Between acts the big screens would cut to footage from the other worldwide concerts. We saw Greenday, Bon Jovi, Will Smith, Destiny’s Child, Bryan Adams, and the Pet Shop Boys. And the Pet Shop Boys again. And again. I think the Moscow concert consisted of the Pet Shop Boys only 🙂

When Sting was playing the guy standing next to Lil was jigging around, and from my vantage point it looked very much like he was, well, wanking. Sorry to be crude, but he did! I don’t *think* he actually was, but I couldn’t get a close enough look to say for sure.

Shortly before Paul McCartney walked on stage for the finale, the audience began singing ‘Hey Jude’, which he then sang. How did they know?

Kofi Annan was there! Kofi Annan! He didn’t say much, oddly, but he was on stage!

Madonna

The most emotional moment of the concert, for me, was when Bob Geldof showed a film of starving African children, which ended by focusing onto one young girl. Bob turned around and said: “We don’t clap that, do we. This girl had ten minutes to live, and because of Live Aid she this year took her agriculture exam. This beautiful woman is here today.” At which point she walked on stage to the loudest applause yet. It was a stunning moment, I thought. She thanked the crowd through an interpreter, and then remained on stage while Madonna dedicated ‘Like a prayer’ to her.

As Lil and I were making our way through the crowd, the announcer said: “Ladies and gentlemen – Brad Pitt!”. You should have heard the screams. A woman next to us turned to the people around her and said “He’s promised to me, I just need to get near him” and promptly darted forward, pushing her way through the crowd. People were hoisted up onto shoulders and cries of ‘We love you Brad!’ abounded. He was quite eloquent, too.

The ladies toilets had no queue at one point! That was just weird.

David Beckham introduced Robbie Williams – the scream factor doesn’t really get much bigger than that!

View from Above

At various points the screen showed photographs of the world leaders who’ll be present at the G8. Only George W. Bush got booed.

George Michael made a surprise two minute appearance with Paul McCartney in the finale. It was rather odd – he walked out, sang one song, then walked off again. A good surprise, though. I’d have liked to have heard a duet between them on The Long and Winding Road – it’s a close call on whose version I prefer.

Travis sang ‘Staying Alive’, which must have taken some doing! Fran Healey said he had to wear particularly tight underwear, then proceeded to pull them from his trousers – they had a ‘Make Poverty History’ waistband.

I was watching Dido when somebody behind me said “Hey, she’s lip-syncing!” She wasn’t. The big screens had no sound, so the picture was necessarily a little ahead of the sound from the stage. Like she’d be lip-syncing 🙂

Peter Kay filled in time before The Who, but was a little strange. He walked out and said: “Hmmmm, what shall I sing?”, then lead us all in ‘Show me the way to Amarillo’. He was a bit weird after that, walking off for a couple of minutes after finding out that The Who would need some more time.

Ricky Gervais doing 'The Dance'Ricky Gervais said that Bob Geldof had just taken a conference call with Tony Blair and George Bush, who had agreed to quadruple aid, so we could all go home! Then he admitted that wasn’t true: “good news! There are still lots of poor people – we can carry on!” He then did ‘The Dance’ from The Office, to rapturous applause 🙂

Dawn French made the mistake of saying she wouldn’t sing, which prompted a chorus of ‘sing! sing! sing!’ from the crowd.

Most of the merchandise sellers were my age and very attractive. That was a bit mean, how am I meant to think straight and order three different sizes of t-shirt in varying quantities correctly in those circumstances? Not that I got to that point, as it happened.

Madonna, amongst others, swore quite spectacularly – we wondered whether the BBC had the show on a delay. They didn’t, apparently. 400 complaints! It’s not like the swearing was aggressive, though. Well, apart from Snoop Dog.

Live 8: Podcasts

Lil and I recorded one very brief podcast before the show:

Live 8 Podcast #1 – Walking

I recorded clips of two sets, when the crowd was singing:

Live 8 Podcast #2 – UB40
Live 8 Podcast #2 – Scissor Sisters

Finally, if you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like to be surrounded by 150,000 people singing ‘Angels’ as loud as they can, here’s your answer. I recorded all of Robbie’s set – I figure the Live 8 people won’t mind me putting it here as it’s in stunning 8-bit, 8khz sound. I’m afraid you can on occasion hear me singing (argh) but it’s not me doing all the yelling 🙂

Live 8 Podcast #4 – Robbie Williams

Live 8: The Performances

REM on Stage - 2It’s hard to know where to begin. It feels worryingly like showing-off to go through the people we saw, but I’m really not…I won’t go through everyone 🙂

  • Elton John’s one of my favourite singers, and it was great to see him live. He sang ‘The Bitch is Back’, ‘Saturday Night’s All Right’ and a duet with Pete Doherty, who apparently acted rather weirdly (couldn’t see much of that from where I was).
  • Dido was really very good indeed – she can sing beautifully, and I hadn’t realised how attractive she is.
  • REM got one of the biggest cheers of the concert when the ‘Everybody Hurts’ riff began. Everybody likes that song, and most of the crowd stood to sing and sway. I wasn’t sure about the blue eye-band thing Michael Stipe had going on, but the more I think about it now, the cooler it was 🙂 He came on stage and said: “We’re REM, and this is what we do” – I liked that.
  • Ms. Dynamite walked onto the stage with an extremely high-pitched ‘How you doin’ people?!’, which caused a woman next to me to exclaim ‘ooh’ in a what-the-hell-was-that manner
  • Velvet Revolver - 2Keane are one of my favourite bands of the moment, and I thought they put in an excellent performance. They played ‘Bedshaped’, which is my favourite of theirs.
  • Annie Lennox was really, really great. She sang a very moving song, too.
  • Razorlight endeared themselves to me when the lead singer said: “Give peace a chance – John Lennon said that. Music can change the world – Bono said that. Sign the f***ing petition – I SAID THAT!”. I bought ‘Somewhere Else’ via iTunes yesterday.
  • Only Bob Geldof compared to Madonna in terms of stage presence and gravitas. She really had a majesty, I thought. ‘Like a Prayer’ was the first song I started singing along to, and I didn’t really stop after that. ‘Ray of Light’ and ‘Music’ really got the audience going.
  • I liked Snow Patrol so much I bought their album once I got home – ‘Run’ is great!
  • Joss Stone was very impressive given that she wasn’t even born during Live Aid! Her songs weren’t particularly to my taste, but I could appreciate how good she was.
  • Robbie singing Angels - 2Lil and I had been looking forward to the Scissor Sisters all day, and they didn’t disappoint! They handled the audience very well, and their performance was a masterclass. They played a new song specially for the occasion, too.
  • Velvet Revolver were loud 🙂
  • Lenny Henry introduced Sting with something like the following: “…and he was in one of the biggest British bands of all time. This is going on so long it’s almost a tantric introduction – I could go on all night, but I won’t, it’s Sting!”. Sting changed the words of “Every Breath you Take” to include references to democracy and ‘We’ll be watching you’. I don’t know whether that was referring to Zimbabwe, Iraq, or something else.
  • Robbie Williams was one of the major highlights of the evening, I thought. He sang ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Let me Entertain You’ and ‘Feel’. He then said “I’ve got to sing it, haven’t I?” and the crowd absolutely erupted. Everybody knows the words to Angels, and even I was singing along at the top of my voice! He was pretty funny, too.
  • Pink Floyd - 4Watching The Who was like live CSI! I only really knew the songs from the introductions to CSI and CSI: Miami, but it was most cool. The blood-curdling scream at the end of ‘Don’t get fooled again’ was very impressive!
  • I felt a little bad watching Pink Floyd as to be honest I don’t know all that much about them. The rest of the audience were in hysterics, and I gather it was something rather special 🙂 I’m still racking my brains trying to remember where I know ‘Comfortably Numb’ from – sure, I could look it up, but what fun’s that!

Live 8: The Not-so-Great

I won’t dwell on the (very) few bad points of the day, but I do want to mention them.

The only real sour note was Mariah Carey’s act. She walked out to a little booing from the crowd, for no reason that I could see. She then didn’t help herself by generally acting like a diva – she had a lady whose job it was to hold a glass of water for her while she took sips, for example. That didn’t go down well, and when when she started to sing her third song there was very loud booing. That was really pathetic. She and everybody else gave their time for free at this concert. The tickets were free. It was a concert designed to stop world poverty and save millions and millions of lives. If you don’t like somebody, you should just shut the hell up. The only reason to boo anything is if you want to hurt someone’s feelings. How ungrateful, spiteful and childish. I’m told you couldn’t really hear it on TV, thankfully. As you may have gathered, this pissed me off somewhat.

Inside the ParkAlso, you should have seen the mess! There was newspaper everywhere as we were walking in, and by the end it was genuinely difficult to find somewhere to put your feet. Bottles and boxes and paper literally covered the grass. I’m sure this happens at every concert and public gathering, but it’s a little demoralising. I mean, how difficult is it to just put stuff into your bag and throw it away later? The people who cleared up deserve medals.

It was also a bit of a shame that we missed U2 and Coldplay, but I’m sure it was a genuine error of timing and I’m not really annoyed about it. I’ll just have to catch them in concerts, I suppose – such a trial!

Live 8: Our Day

I’m going to use various posts to talk about Live 8. I may well repeat things I’ve written in flickr photo descriptions.

Queuing down Park LaneLil and I left for the concert at around 1100, I think. We took the tube to Green Park and followed the crowds. We saw a sign saying ‘Show Entrance Queue starts 2000m’, which caused some groans from people around us. There were a few people holding ‘need a ticket’ signs. I’d bet that if they’d held signs saying ‘Will pay

Live8 Photos

Night Falls

Phew. That’s all the photos uploaded – they’re all in the Live8 Set.

There’s still a huge amount I want to write down, but I’m just too tired! Lil’s wrapup is here. I share her sentiment that it was an absolutely awesome occasion.

Working on Photos

I’m going through the photos, editing them as necessary, then uploading one by one. They’re all tagged with ‘live8’, and can be found here or here for the most recent, slightly larger.

Dido on Stage

Update: Right, that’s about half of them uploaded. I need to go eat something now before I fall over 🙂 Most of my favourite shots have yet to come. There aren’t any more of just the screens, either 🙂

End of the Day

End of the Day

Well, my photoblogging plan failed rather, when Orange’s internet access conked out once we entered the main ‘arena’. Sorry about that. We just got back in 5mins ago after standing for nearly 13 straight hours (well, Lil was, I had 7mins or so on the grass eating a burger) and I’ve rarely been so tired. Was a bloody fantastic concert, but I’m afraid I don’t have the strength to write anything just now 🙂 I’m still a bit wound up to sleep easily, but hopefully that’ll fade. Speak to you tomorrow.