18 Jul 2010

Post 222: Live aid: A Great thing but I've no truck for people who rely on luck

I am in a rare position this week, I know what I'm going to write about this week and next, this week is going to be about the rather remarkable TV program which I caught on iplayer about the making of and the putting on of Live Aid in July 1985. And in no way related to this I think I should probably address a subject with which I'm all too familiar, swearing, next week.
Anyway, I got an email about this Live aid program on Thursday 15th. I am fascinated by the power of humanity and live music and the associated peoplescapes and nothing was more about peoplescapes than Live aid. The 80s was a bit of a sh*t decade in the world's history (be honest with yourself), we were in the middle of the cold war, (which I don't remember because I was too young) which was terrifying to live in and made no sense but it was small wonder everyone was at each others throats.
Frightened, uncertain people are angry people. Thatcher and Reagan didn't give a toss about people just countries and geopolitics, they were both about trying to apply top-down solutions to bottom-up problems, ultimately government is about trying to create policy to make our lives better and easier and the way it's done is to try and work as many iterations of a policy into it suiting a particular individuals circumstances but there are always individuals and subsets of society that policy doesn't apply to. These people feel wronged and disenfranchised and in Thatchers Britain it was the poor, the unionised and ethnic minorities who fitted into this category. It was 'f*ck you jack I'm ok politics'. OK, apart from that last bit, this is beginning to sound like a sociology or politics essay and I doubt that can be good.
It was against this backdrop a pushy, Irish, foulmouthed, aggressive fading popstar decided, just decided -that he would put on an enormous global event in aid of Africa, particularly Ethiopia, which was in the middle of a famine. In my opinion the most powerful images ever were the post holocaust images and it was the power of the images of the famine in Ethiopia that had prompted Band Aid.
The 'feed the world' 'do they know it's christmas' effort written by Midge Ure.
I'm glad it happened this way round actually because had Geldof been responsible for the single and the diminutive Midge Ure been responsible for the concert, the single would have been sh*t and the concert wouldn't have happened..
Understandably, people (cynical people like me) thought the whole thing was just a publicity stunt to try and rekindle the careers of some ailing rockers. To his credit Geldof did everything he could possibly do to try and persuade people this wasn't the case, he refused to be gratuitously photographed with starving children when he visited Ethiopia, unlike say princess Di, who always grabbed whatever opportunity she could.
I took Bobs compassion as genuine until years later at Live eight when he shamelessly sang 'I don't like Mondays, I think it is undeniably top in any league of self indulgent moments that the world could have done without. Another reason I thought he was being genuine were his painful to watch impassioned pleas that frankly made him look a tit unless he judged that people would hang an 'at least he tried' tag around his neck. Maybe something else that lends weight to this theory was how ridiculously overambitious the whole thing was. In the programme someone said the announcement of the concert then was like announcing the same concert on the moon today. It was bonkers. Even though the technological hurdles were immense without even asking them first, he announced the one off reformation of Led Zeppelin and the Who, neither of whom were even on speaking terms with themselves, I am quite surprised that he didn't announce the 2nd coming of Jesus, or maybe he thought he didn't need to because he'd already be singing 'I don't like Mondays'. I get pissed off if someone alters my plans and who the f*ck is Dom Pardey? In announcing live aid in the way he did, Geldof was betting everything he had on red and I'm afraid we describe that as stupid, we just do. The fact that the resulting concert was a massive success has everything to do with Geldof being a 'jammy git'
the resulting concert was awesome despite Status Quo, Spandau Ballet, Elton John and Phil Collins performing. It featured some of the most unforgivable haircuts in music history and made Bono into the most earnest, worthy sanctinonious twat in human history. Queen, and Freddie Mercury stole the show
and a particular highlight for me was Led Zep blaming Phil Collins (playing the drums sans gorilla outfit) for the awfulness of their performance in Philadelphia.
There is no doubt in my mind that the world is a better place for Live Aid happening. It raised awareness about something happening which was gut wrentching and enough to make anyone cry. It is hard to not be cynical about it though especially when you consider the potency of having 1.5billion people watching, what lets it off the hook was that it was an exercise set in human falibility, ie, it could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. Geldof was a lucky man and as an unlucky man I don't respect gamblers (or at least gamblers who don't respect odds that are heavily stacked against you), Live 8 had more realistic ambitions but I am much more cynical about the motivations. I have too much time to think and not enough things I can do. As usual I am eternally grateful to my friends for suffering my company at something I've been going to for years but will never make any sense of: The Lambeth Country show. You can't get any more inner-city than Lambeth so how can it have a country show? It mixes falconry, jerk chicken, scrumpy and reggae music. It is mad and Becky and Harry Morrison took me yesterday. If the sun's out it's lovely and was an excuse for an afternoon out in a fair-like atmosphere where everyone just enjoys the sunshine in Brockwell Park juxtaposing the country and city at it's most invigorating
I am grateful to Becky and Harry for organising it and for friends Helen and James; and Karen and Toby for coming along, I had a long chat with Toby about finding a writing course that'll get me started because after all becoming a writer is all I can do. Also Helen and James who have always been great support and Harry and Beckys twins behaved impeccably
and more was to come, as when I arrived home~730 my old friend Guy who I hadn't seen for ages had come round to cook me dinner. I may have been pretty tired but when people go out of their way, you make an effort for them and if that meant eating Guy's cooking...


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