Monday, July 04, 2005

Were You Still Up For Hey Jude?

Although I watched more of Live 8 than I had planned to, I didn't quite last the distance. I went to bed as Pink Floyd started performing to a backing track that sounded remarkably like the theme tune to Are You Being Served? I half expected Mrs Slocombe to walk on and tell us she'd put a Live 8 wristband round her pussy.

Much earlier in the day, and a full eight hours before the watershed, a band member, possibly from U2, told an interviewer they had travelled to the original Live Aid in Noel Edmonds' helicopter. He'd been worried that if it crashed the headlines would say they went down on Noel's chopper. A very Carry On or Are You Being Served? thing to say. And disappointingly un-rock-n-roll. Where's John Lydon when you need him?

One of the first acts was the inappropriately named REM, whose lead singer hardly blinks at all. I'm sure the lead singer of REM is a very nice man who loves his mother and is kind to animals. But to me he's one of the scariest-looking men on the planet. And one of the most repulsive. Dressed in a dark suit, as he was for Live 8, he looked even more like an employee of the Kray Brothers, the last leering face you'd see before you were propping up a motorway bridge, but not before he'd had some fun with a soldering iron on your genitals. Maybe he was the reason that AOL's webcast carried a prominent warning about content and said 'viewer discretion is advised'.

Graham Norton - ousted from prime time coverage of the Philadelphia concert because the London one kept to the schedule as punctiliously as Virgin Trains - has said in the past that Mariah Carey is the prima donna from hell and that she employs people to put a drinking straw in her mouth when thirsty. But one didn't expect her to demonstate this in front of a global audience of billions.
However, a woman was summoned from the wings to place the straw from a bottle of water in her mouth in the middle of her set. This woman appeared to be clutching a variety of ointments and Carey told us she was her masseuse. We prayed that a massage was not about to follow, with Carey prostrate on the stage and this woman's knee in her capacious buttocks, as happened with young Andrew Murray at Wimbledon. Incidentally, although women's legs rarely impinge on my consciousness, Carey's short, tight black dress did reveal that she has thighs like Wayne Rooney.
Later, Carey shouted to the wings for a microphone stand. "I know I said I didn't want one but now I've changed my mind." I bet the over-stretched stage crew loved her for that. The not-so-subtle mesage of all this nonsense was 'I'm such a big star that I can't swig water from a bottle like everyone else and I can change my mind mid-performance about what I need for my act.'

Highlight of the day: Jeremy Clarkson telling Jonathan Ross he was in agony with back pain. He said he'd slipped a disc. No, Jeremy. It's the universal law of Karma, a punishment for all the offensive things you say about minorities. And what were you doing there anyway? Surely the whole event reeked of the political correctness that you've made a fortune from sneering at?

The problem with people of my age watching such events is that you find yourself turning into your father and moaning that none of these people can sing. One person you can't say that about is Annie Lennox. But my god, how that woman's voice depresses me. By the time she'd done the same three songs she always does, I'd decided to cheer myself up by playing a Leonard Cohen album. He's a little ray of sunshine in comparison.

Actually, I found nearly all the music totally joyless. Perhaps it was partly that artists chose songs that chimed with the purpose of the event.
The exception was Robbie Williams. More than a ray of sunshine, Robbie was a solar flare of ego, energy, cheesiness and pure joy. Nobody can work a crowd like Robbie. Indeed he was the only one to jump into the crowd, although that was partly because many of the other acts were so old that they'd never have been able to climb back onto the stage.
Nor were the viewers at home forgotten. Show Robbie a television camera and he'll press his face against the lens and start making love to it. The naffness of all this is redeemed by the fact that his tongue is always in his cheek. He's both taking the piss and having a ball. It seemed to me the only time that entertainment triumphed over worthiness and that the atmosphere in Hyde Park came through the television screen.

Robbie was introduced by David Beckham who at one point dried completely but not before he'd said it was an 'historical' day instead of an 'historic' one. But that was a small blip for David and probably the first time he'd chosen a word of four syllables over one of three.

Watching McCartney, The Who and Pink Floyd made me curious about how teenagers feel watching people old enough to be their grandfathers performing rock music. For they are the first generation to have experienced this.
My generation were often exposed to older legends of popular music like Gracie Fields and Vera Lynn but that was a different genre of music. Rock and pop music was something new and mostly disliked by our parents, with a few exceptions like Cliff and baby-faced Paul McCartney. Bands like The Who were certainly regarded with horror. Do young people today see them as elder statesmen of a musical tradition that stretches back 50 years? Or does it seem a bit like watching your father disco-dancing at a family wedding?
Is it perhaps my generation that feel so uncomfortable seeing The Who perform today, if only because we see a mirror image of our own mortality?

Whatever.....whichever.....I do wish Pete Townsend hadn't done that scissor leap into the air on Saturday. And not only because a man of his age could easily have put his back out.
Would Scarey Carey have lent him her personal masseuse? I wouldn't bet on it.


At 9:47 AM, Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

Thank you.
Saved me the trouble of watching it.
Although your fondness for Mr Williams does somewhat cause one to question the validity of the rest of your criticism.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Betty said...

I know this is my usual fawning nonsense, but another wonderful post.

The slipped disc may not have done for Jeremy Clarkson, but hopefully he will eventually explode due to a combination of overbearing smugness and trying to zip up his 28 inch waist jeans.

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't really comment on your post, Mr Lupin, because the missus and I had the privilege and good fortune to be at the Africa Calling gig at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Over 20 superb bands and performers, many of them megastars in Africa but denied a chance to perform at the main Live8 gigs because Geldof deemed them not sufficiently appealing to a wider audience. Sheer effin class from start to finish.

- Tony -

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Talking of Vera Lynn, David Dimbleby had to gently tease a little bit of White Cliffs of Dover out of her on A Picture of Britain last night. If only our elder statesmen of rock (knights and non-knights) had the same reserve. And why did The Floyd dedicate Wish You Were Here to Syd? Why not someone who would've wanted to be there? Phil Collins, perhaps.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger cello said...

I forgive you your Robbie Williams enthusiasm, as a self-confessed and unashamed lapse of judgement. You've earned something frivolous and totally decorative after a several quite weighty blogs recently.

I didn't watch much - not my sort of thing really - but did you think it was all worthwhile? Do you think it will make any difference to the G8 summit?

I'm not sure. But if there was even the merest chance that it might, I'm all for it.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous asta said...

I watched from beginning to end, almost.
We in Canada didn't get to see Ms Carey in diva mode, but we did see her with the children's choir and she was terrific, despite the hooker dress.
Madge did't appear to have thought out her turn onstage beond making sure everyone was dressed in white.

I agree with you about Robbie. Love him or hate him, he knows how to work a crowd.
Destiny's Child in Philadelphia was lackluster, Kayne West was electric.

We were stuck with a mostly ho-hum roster and Tom Green and Dan Ackroyd as MCs.
Neil Young was worth the wait.

What was most glaring for me was how little time was given to the "new" acts and how few of them there were.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Awwww Willie....I thought the Who were the proverbials, but then again, I am of a certain age.

I think that the "Dad dance" of the day should go to mr Peter Gabriel, organiser of the Eden Project shindig (toatal attendance 4,000 ish). Anjelique Kidjo (sp?) dragged him onsatge with about 15 young and lithe boys and girls and Anjelique herself thrusting her nether regions hither and thither with all the gusto of a 14 year old.

She'd dragged M Gabriel onto the stage whilst telling the crowd that he wasn't English....he had an African heart. Well I'm here to tell you that the minute he started trying to dance he became English through and through. Seriously, it was me up there, chock full of the rhythm but physically, mentally and culturally unable to express the Fred Astair within.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

For some reason Blogger has stopped emailing me comments so I had no idea that all these were here. But thank you.

For now, can I just say that I'm not a really a fan of Robbie Williams or his music. But, like so many people, I admire his showmanship. He's a good antidote to the breathtaking pretentiousness of so much modern pop music.

cello, will it make a difference? Remember the Iraq march? The difference this time is that Blair and Brown are in cahoots with the protesters. Andrew Marr even called it a 'conspiracy'.

I read that one of the African singers in Cornwall was told by Geldof that nobody who had sold less than 4 million records would be allowed at Hyde Park. I found that pretty shocking.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger earlyman said...

Hmmm, Bob Gandolf is obviously a very passionate man but, as my mother commented only the other day, "he is a scruffy bugger and no mistake". Shame the african artists were shunted to one side so lots of estate agents could listen to Coldplay. I'm not too sure where I stand on the whole watching-old-rock-stars-waddle-about thing. Don't get me wrong, I respect these people immensely. The music that they have given the world is timeless and deserves all of the credit it gets. Likewise, the attitiude that Dave Gilmor has shown with regards to the "how the f**k am I going to spend all of my money? Here have lots of it and do some good" is both refreeshing and rare. How dare Razorlight refuse to give any extra royalties from record sales post live8 on account of being a young band! Selfish little s***s need to be reminded that they have got what may well be the stupidest and cushiest job in the known universe.
Nice to see that Fat Rob still doesn't know the words or stuctures of his own b****y songs (see how he didn't sing a single chorus? All of 'Angels' was left for the crowd to sing too. He even did that at Guy Chambers wedding!)

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