Live 8

It needs to be asked: could CTV possibly have found a worse host for Live 8? Seriously, is anybody else as annoyed right now as I am? Or am I the only one lame enough to be up at 7am the Saturday after Canada Day (which I celebrated by staying in and reading about Ken Kesey and LSD) to watch potentially seventeen hours of footage? Again, it needs to be asked.

But on a more serious note, does anybody else find it ironic that this broadcast is, like, rammed with commercials? I thought Live 8 would have been televised commercial-free; evidently, I’m excessively naive. I hate to be such a cynic–in the last couple days I’ve actually started warming up to the whole operation–but when you’re watching a live broadcast of a concert that’s ostensibly designed to help stamp out poverty (not to mention the fact that so many people have criticized the G8’s debt relief strategy for fear it will make the third world even more vulnerable to corporate pillaging and plundering), it makes you question some people’s motives for getting involved in the first place. “Live 8…brought to you by Bud Light.” Does anybody else see the problem here?


Everybody’s favourite Canadian, Ben Mulroney, has just joined the CTV Live 8 broadcast…and within seconds of arriving has delivered two of the undisputed gems we’ll hear all day. (Paul’s glib remarks/pithy retorts are in brackets.)

  • Re. Bono: “He wears his politics on his sleeve without sounding preachy.” [Paul: “If he didn’t preach, he wouldn’t speak.”]
  • Re. Pink Floyd: “Any music fan, this will take your breath away.” [Paul: “…because you will have slit your wrists.”]

And you wonder why we’re hetero life partners.

As we speak, the ego has landed. But he doesn’t preach…just so you know.


I was about to post a comment from David Stubbs about Coldplay…but when Will Smith walked on stage in Philadelphia and gave–why mince words?–a brilliant, moving speech about the need to eradicate third world poverty, and for the first time since this Live 8 hoopla started up last month I feel as though I “got” it. Just can’t believe it was the Fresh Prince who swayed me.

Personal highlight so far: Green Day playing an uncensored “American Idiot” in Berlin. Personal lowlight: Tom Greene and Dan Ackroyd’s ridiculous introduction to the Barrie show. Can someone please explain to me why Dan Ackroyd is always drafted in to host these large scale Canadian concerts? First SARStock, then Across the Causeway, now this? When will it end?


How I wish I could simply transcribe mine and Paul’s day-long MSN conversation regarding Live 8. You’d laugh yourselves silly…and also learn more about music than you imagined possible. But in lieu of pasting what I’m sure would be a three GB file, here are the highlights:

  • Who decided it would be a good idea to get a black, AIDS-infected Sesame Street puppet to introduce Jars of Clay? Can somebody please explain this to me?
  • Maroon 5 covering “Rockin’ in the Free World”, eh? I feel as though someone should have nipped this one in the bud.
  • Gotta love the dudes in Barrie who booed Celine Dion…’cause, y’know, giving your time and energy to something like Live 8 deserves our scorn and mockery. I guess they were still getting over the fact that they wouldn’t be seeing the Dave Matthews Band.
  • Our Lady Peace…man, what the hell happened there? Easily the worst performance of the entire Live 8–and when you consider that Live 8 included a performance by Pink Floyd, that’s a lofty statement indeed.
  • The London show looked utterly phenomenal; I’m still slightly in awe of what I saw from Hyde Park (I can only imagine what it was like being there…Tim, looking forward to your full report). But I think what amazed me the most is how the legends of music can do more with a gesture, a chord, a gaze over the audience than most of their fellow musicians could do with an entire set. Robbie Williams, for instance, spent fifteen minutes trying to persuade everybody how important he is…and then the Who walked on stage and utterly obliterated his entire performance within the first six seconds of “Who Are You”.
  • U2 were great–it’s really too bad they were forced to play so early in the show. (Also, good on them for not playing “Vertigo” twice in a three-song set…congratulations, boys, you’re learning!)
  • Coldplay…again, their popularity explained please?
  • Sting was awesome…which I’m surprised to hear myself say, since I’m not really a big Police fan. “Message In a Bottle” was one of the highlights of the day for me.
  • …and speaking of surprises, Gordon Lightfoot! Not that I was there, of course, but watching it on TV he seemed to have the audience under a spell. Nobody so much as moved while he was playing…and when he finished, the audience erupted. Made me want to run out and acquire his entire catalogue.
  • Now…okay: it pains me to say this, but the Tragically Hip (who are playing right now) were a monumental disappointment. Honestly, I am now so glad I didn’t make the trek up to Barrie to see this show–they played the most utterly predictable set you could imagine (“My Music at Work”, “Ahead by a Century” and “Poets”), Gord’s voice sounded rough, the rest of the band seemed out of sync…I mean, sure the crowd was eating them up, but to me they sounded awful. And no, I can’t believe I just wrote that, either.
  • The Who were fabulous–even better when you consider the drummer and bassist were both session players drafted in for Zak Starkey and Pino Paladino (the latter of whom is joining forces with–ugh–John Meyer). Like I said, the Who can do more in a single gesture than most bands can do with an entire set–and to that point, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was also the political high point (at least from a musical perspective) of the entire day, despite Our Lady Peace’s pathetic attempt at writing a topical song.
  • I can’t confirm this–but I’m pretty sure that, during the course of Pink Floyd’s set, I was able to graduate, have a career, get married, have kids, retire, move to Florida, develop cancer for a third time and then die. Again, I can’t confirm it. (And for the record–and in all seriousness–I’m glad so many people enjoyed their set; I’m sure if you’re one of them that “Comfortably Numb” was the high point of the entire day. As for me and Paul, nothing will ever make us comprehend this band’s popularity–and our MSN conversation is a testament to this fact.)
  • Good to see Sir Paul regained his voice since “Sgt. Pepper”. “The Long and Winding Road”…such a gorgeous tune.
  • London gets U2, the Who and Sir Paul McCartney; Barrie gets one-third of Run DMC. Gotta love it.

There are rumours floating around the various Pearl Jam message boards that Eddie Vedder is backstage at Park Place and waiting to come out and perform with Neil Young. I guess time will tell if this is real or not…but even if it comes to fruition I’m glad I chose to spend Live 8 Day the way I did. Come to think of it, getting to “share” a live rendition of “Money” with Paul was worth it all on its own. Watching twelve uninterrupted hours of television is seldom a smart idea; today, however, it’s proven to be a brilliant call.


Believe it or not, I just spent sixteen virtually uninterrupted hours watching coverage of Live 8…which is more than Tim Jebb spent watching Live 8, and he attended one of the shows! The lesson, as always: I’m a dork. But you know that already…and since I’ve got nothing to hide, here are my final few, fragmented thoughts from a day spent watching the “biggest concert in the history of the world”.

  • The rumoured Eddie Vedder appearance never came to fruition–and so my decision not to attend the Barrie Live 8 concert proved to be 100% correct (more on that in a second).
  • My friend Margaret came over tonight, and together we watched three-quarters of CTV’s highlights package (which included, among other things, the twelve hour, thirty-one minute-long version of “Money” by Pink Floyd). Once again, the overriding message (at least from a musical standpoint): we might never see a festival line-up the likes of the London show ever again. I mean, where do we begin? Pink Floyd–who despite my pathological hatred are an undeniably uberpopular band–were playing their first show together in twenty-four years, and they weren’t even the headliners! U2 opened the concert, while Coldplay (whose popularity will never, ever cease to baffle me, but whatever…) were second. Just an incredible array of talent–again, it’s unlikely we’ll see anything of its equal anytime soon.
  • Back in Barrie, meanwhile, the Tragically Hip’s underwhelming performance was redeemed by the final two acts, the Barenaked Ladies–Steven Page’s mimickry of Bryan Adams was absolutely priceless–and Neil Young (even sans Ed). But could they have chosen a more predictable finale than “Rockin’ in the Free World” (with Neil on freaking acoustic guitar) and “O Canada”? Maybe you had to be there–but from my living room, it felt stale…and since virtually the exact same roster of performers did the exact same song at Music Without Borders Live in 2001, it felt tired.
  • The undisputed highlight of Live 8: DJ Jazzy Jeff making a guest appearance during Will Smith’s set in Philadelphia that led to Smith leading the audience in–you guessed it–the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel Air! Priceless stuff…seriously, you’ve got to find a video of this song. (And while you’re at it, try and find Kanye West doing “Jesus Walks”–another stellar moment from Philly.)
  • I can’t believe I spent sixteen hours watching this…or that I’ve written five blog entries about it. Someone, please: find me a job.

But in the end, I think the most important thing (at least from my perspective) is that my cynicism about Live 8 and its potential effect on next week’s G8 summit in Scotland was washed away about halfway through U2’s opening song. The more I watched, the more I became convinced that this was something special–to the point where I was signing the on-line petition and thinking of different ways in which I could become involved in my community. Bob Geldof, Bono and the rest of the Live 8 braintrust have been taking a lot of flak in the media recently–a point that Barrie’s idiot twin hosts made a point of underscoring when they tore up a Rex Murphy article condemning the Live 8 concerts–but today they got the final word in: Live 8 was a monumental success. If it manages to sway political opinion, it will have succeeded beyond anybody’s wildest dreams…although as a former cynic, I feel as though it’s already accomplished enough.

And with that, I’m off to bed…because apparently watching sixteen hours of music on television is exhausting. Happy Live 8 Day, everybody.


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