Swearing, confused messages, the failure of sing alongs, an unimpressive bill….
Check out and readÂ an in depth observation of Live Earth:
Neil McCormick finds confused messages and an unimpressive line-up at London’s Live Earth concert “If you wanna save the planet, jump up and down!” urged Madonna.
Can global warming be stopped by an out-of-breath, middle-aged, super-rich narcissist in a leotard and high heels?Â Â Â
The superannuated pop queen MadonnaÂ was certainly up for the challenge, but judging by the negligible response to the text message number displayed on stage, I suspect the public may have been justifiably confused by the link between aerobics and the environment.
As global satellite multi-media musical entertainment, Live Earth was just about adequate.
As a platform for stadium politics, it was a dismal affair. “Can you help save the earth?” bellowed Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles. Cue muted murmur of support. “We might be screwed if that’s the response,” he half-joked.
The whole tone felt misjudged: Al Gore appeared by satellite, to no great reaction in the stadium, and seemed to be addressing a small audience of native Americans, not seizing the world by the reins.
The message itself was confused: Keane performed in front of the legend “Insulate your ceilings and walls”. Razorlight performed America to footage of penguins. Duran Duran stuck to supermodels, but somehow tried to turn Girls on Film into an ecological anthem. Simon Le Bon urged the crowd to sing “Change, change, we gotta start the change” without much success, perhaps because he was having trouble singing it particularly well himself.
The failure of singalongs became something of a theme of the day, bands appearing to expect a much greater familiarity with their hits than was apparent. Only a smattering of acts made any genuine attempts to engage with the issues.
Will.i.am of the entertaining Black Eyed Peas had an angry, despairing rap and singer-songwriters David Gray and Damien Rice performed a new version of Que Sera, Sera in which they pondered a future where we would be “drowning in our own s**t”, but the laissez-faire chorus of “Whatever will be, will be” probably summed up the mood better.
The bill was, if we’re honest, not particularly impressive. Live Aid and Live 8 were the greatest gatherings of musical talent ever seen, but they didn’t happen by accident. On this evidence, Gore lacks the persuasiveness and contact books of Geldof and Bono. Where were the great campaigning rock bands of our times?
There was no U2, Radiohead, Coldplay, REM, Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan (indeed, no classic veterans at all, which may have accounted for the failure of the singalongs). Where were the collaborations and reunions? Live 8 got Pink Floyd, Live Earth got Spinal Tap.
The experienced stadium rock acts briefly instilled a sense of occasion, honours going to Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters and Genesis. Up and coming arena acts Kasabian and Snow Patrol held their own, but then the mood would drift with middle-ranking pop from Paolo Nutini or Corinne Bailey Rae. Jazzy piano soul from John Legend sent the horde streaming towards the toilets.
Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, woke a lot of people up to the very real and imminent dangers of climate change. But the inconvenient truth of Live Earth is that it was a soulless telethon, with no clarity or drive.
The concluding lyrics of Madonna’s closing song, Hung Up, may be ironically prophetic: “You’ll wake up one day / But it will be too late.”