[Review] ABLE2UK CLASSIC: Reliving Live8
Back in 2005 we experienced a day which we will never forget. We were fortunate to know about Live8 before the concert was announced, although we had no idea how massive this event would turn out to be. As the line-up grew, so did our expectations.
We didn't realise the kind of access we would be privileged to have until we reached the gates of Hyde Park and even then it wasn't until we found ourselves inside the Artist Garden that we fully understood how special the following twelve hours would be. Imagine walking into a sealed off area and the first person you bump into is The Edge from U2 who gives you a wave followed by a nod from Paul McCartney.
One person I personally always wanted to meet was Madonna; time and time again I had tried and narrowly missed a formal introduction with the superstar herself at BBC Centre. But it was at Live8 when this dream came true, just an hour before we had a brief chat with Bill Gates and was introduced to Brad Pitt by Guy Richie who was standing a few metres away from Elton John - You see what we mean about the day being special?
This is the final article we are going to revisit before the first decade of ABLE2 comes to a close. But choosing the relevant story wasn't difficult; this is the tale of how one very lucky journalist had the most amazing day of his life in the company of his best mate and guest-list to die for. If only Twitter was available on July 2nd 2005...
Over the past 5 years we have tried to start our reviews with a witty, amusing or just a damn right interesting opening sentence, hopefully you may have noticed some! However, we are stuck. In this review, story, report call it whatever you wish, no words, no matter how Shakespeare they are put together could do justice on the day we had on July 2nd 2005. A date which will stick with us until we die. It is with a great honour and a little lump in our throats bulging with unforgettable memories ready to burst we can now bring you our memories from Live8...
Pick a number 1 to 6. We were. The only thought going through our heads whilst waiting for our passes to arrive was, if we were lucky enough to be given a laminate which number would be printed on the outside? The laminates were graded with priority. 6 being the least imported and restricted access backstage and 1 being the most. Which was a pretty good job as the twenty minutes the butterflies had fits flying around in our stomachs the waiting was over and a '1' laminate was draped over our heads. We felt as we had just been knighted. After being graced with our access all areas pass we walked through Hyde Park and marched into the venue compound passing the Hard Rock Cafe VIP area, the Clear Channel hospitality, the press area and the D-List guest area. There was no time to visit these compounds, we wanted the stars, we wanted what the editor of Heat magazine would die for, and we wanted to be in the artist garden area. And we were. ABLE2UK had finally arrived at Live8 and we made a promise to stay out of the celebrities’ way and go unnoticed for the next 12 hours. But that went to pot within the first minute as the first person we bumped into after going through the fence was U2'S Adam Clayton. Something told us that the day was looking pretty promising and you know what? We weren't wrong. Lets first off all try to review the mammoth show in the best way we can and then we will come back and escort you backstage as our plus one!
The line up was a music lovers dream as well as a journalist's nightmare. Workers from various publications and tabloid papers had 27 potential reviews to report back from within hours. Many opted for the easy way out and splattered photos over a two page spread in their entertainment columns. Believe us; we were tempted to do the same. Before the stage had McCartney's footprint marked on it at 2pm we could see our article stacked with assorted gifs of band images swiped from various WebPages. Although we thought better of it. Today was history and we wanted to keep it as fresh in our minds for everyone who reads this site. So here's a fairly in-depth report, in order of how the gig of the decade unraveled...
There was no body else who could had been chosen to open such a momentous day. Sir Paul McCartney was joined by Bono on stage to sing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The day had well and truly started and as Macca finished, U2 started. When the first bars of 'One' were heard we knew that the day ahead was going to one to cherish and will were experiencing a piece of music history. Everyone in Hyde Park was having a time of their lives, despite being crammed up like animals in a Spanish zoo. Little animal cruelty was seen in the U2 set though as doves were released out into the audience, the idea was presumably to watch our feathered friends fly out across the park, this didn't happen as they turned round and headed backstage, and these doves had their heads screwed on! From one cemented rock idol to a new one, Bono's band was replaced by Chris Martins'. Coldplay made the crowd numb when they played one of the most moving songs penned since Live Aid, Fix You is the song which could make world leaders don a white wristband, cancel debt and bring world peace. OK, maybe it isn't 'that' powerful, but it certainly brought a tear to our eyes. Water kept dripping down our cheekbones afterwards but happily they drops were from tears of laughter as Matt Lucas and David Walliams introduced Elton John as Andy & Lou. After Andy being 'wheeled off' the only gay on the bill (except Michael Stripe, Scissor Sisters and Robbie who hasn't a clue which side he bats for!) Elton John with came on stage and told us Saturday Night is Alright For Fighting Back. This is an ideal opportunity for this very writer to waffle on about the true meaning of LIVE8 and how the world was fighting for justice in third world countries. Instead we will just carry on with our report and tell you that Pete Docherty amazingly turned up in time to ruin Elton's final song and as Dido was next on the bill it seemed an ideal opportunity to nip backstage for some light refreshment.
After last years NME's most hated band, Stereophonics wiped the smile off journalist faces and raised the standard again which Dido lowered it was time for Michael Stripe to find the nearest pot of blue paint, brush it over his eyes and take to the London stage. REM rarely fail to disappoint and their LIVE8 set was no exception, battling it out for tear jerker of the day against Coldplay the funeral favourite, 'Everybody Hurts' made the grass of Hyde Park grow a few more millimetres thanks to the weeps of the women in the crowd. After Miss Dynamite and Keane it was time for Travis to ask the crowd why it always rain on them, except of course it didn't. Annie Lennox received a warm welcome and everything seemed right in the world, until of course another film was shown on the giant screens to remind us what the day was all about. UB40 allowed those who could a loo break, we didn't bother watching them either, but made a beeline to the pit to watch the first act of the day which made the executives at the BBC cover their ears and wish they opted for a pre recording, Snoop Dogg. It didn't matter to Snoop that he was live on every radio station, BBC1 and playing to 2 billion people across the world there was no reason not to drop a few 'motherfucks' in his good clean banter between his motherfucking songs. Those who were quickly putting pen to paper and complaining about their TV license being put to bad use allowing rock stars of today swearing at tea time should have done one of two things. Either calmed down so they wouldn't miss Razorlight and Bob Geldof playing or at least waited twenty minutes so they could also add their disgust at Madonna telling the 9.6 million UK audiences to 'fucking do something!’ There was no bad language with Snow Patrol who followed, but probably a couple of curses from the audience when they heard that Joss Stone was on the bill! Joss has had an incredible year and has sold more records than any other UK female singer (probably!) however we still think she isn't much cop! The guys from Scissor Sisters must have had a difficult decision on their hands, in spitting distance of the venue the annual gay pride was taking place. A day where the gay community pounce around the capital stopping traffic hoping to make people aware of gay rights. Two things to point out, firstly they march went unnoticed in the press thanks to LIVE 8 and secondly disrupting traffic isn't the best way to win people over, especially when there's the worlds biggest gig taking place and the public transport is bad enough trying to accompany music fans. Luckily Scissor Sisters waved the rainbow flag properly and gave a storming performance fit for any kind of Queen!
Slash is a legend. One of the finest guitarist of our time he managed to make his latest band, Velvet Revolver one the most exciting acts of the day and Brandon Flowers from the Killers had the difficult task to follow, even though they only played one number it was one up on The Bravery who are their rival band! Sting then told us about a message in a bottle which may have read 'Be warned, the diva from hell, Mariah Carey will play next after you and demands a red velvet carpet with diamonds sewn on by the hand of an African goddess leading straight from her dressing room onto the stage'. Apparently, it turned out that all Carey demanded was a decent microphone. One of her 'Yes' people probably didn't have the balls to tell her that it was her high pitch voice which made her crap and not the mic. After the sudden demand of earplugs and the howl of dogs being taking for a walk elsewhere in the park Mariah left the stage ready for the man who can do no wrong. Robbie Williams. Everybody's favourite rock star broke his policy not to play his most famous song and gave Hyde Park to chance to sing 'Angels'. The Robster also sang 'Feel' and 'Rock DJ' this was his first live gig since Knebworth two years ago and rumours are he will be back on tour next year. Before Paul McCartney returned to the stage to end the incredible day there were still two legendary bands to take centre stage. The Who and the reformed Pink Floyd made sure their albums made a nice profit over the following week, although Pink Floyd crushed hopes to their fans that this was the start of a comeback. Even though our pass allowed us on the stage we resisted joining the stars that congregated for the finale led by Macca and George Michael. Midnight saw the end of the ten hour spectacular show which we believe will never be topped in our lifetime and for that matter, probably nobody else's! The overall highlight was probably the girl Bob Geldof brought on stage after showing a picture of her twenty years ago when she had minutes to live which just went to prove that history can change and the day could make an enormous difference to those living in poverty.
A few paragraphs ago we promised to come and take you on a guided tour of the backstage area, and we always keep our promise. So come and share the most celeb fest area we have ever encountered in our lives. As you can probably imagine, there were quite a few hospitality areas. Hard Rock Cafe for corporate guests, a media area and a cornered off sponsor compound. But the place where everybody wanted to be was the artist garden. Located directly back of the stage the Embassy club catered for every single celebrity fit to have an artist pass. We caught Brad Pitt having a chat to Guy Ritchie; could this mean another film in the pipeline? Paul McCartney was the only artist not to have an actual dressing room and was happily walking around meeting everyone. U2 had a small gazebo outside their dressing room area and were met by Bob Geldof before jumping on a plane to continue their world tour, another band that had tour commitments were Coldplay who still managed to find time to play. Shame on you Oasis!
The comedy posse did quite well. Ruby Wax managed to blag herself into the camera pit to watch the show with Ricky Gervais, who incidentally came to the rescue of Peter Kay who was nearly denied access because his hat disguised his identity and was nearly kicked out. Chris Evans wasn't allowed access and had to watch the gig from the golden circle alongside the head of the BBC, Alan Yentob who wasn't best pleased at being thrown out. Although he did manage to make stage access for the finale. After a short disagreement with security Johnny Vaughn managed to keep his place and Edith Bowman joined them with her radio host, Colin Murray. Gervais told us that he was nervous as hell about going up on stage but we told him there was nobody out there which made him laugh, although we still didn't magazine an invite to be on his new show, 'Extras'. That honour went to Madonna when Gervais met her and comically asked her what her name was!
Elton John stayed in his dressing room for much of the time, but Pete Docherty could be seen roaming around. He told us that he was slated by the press after his performance two days earlier at the Wireless festival; we lied and told him that the Babyshambles set was pretty good when in fact it was the worst thing we have seen for ages! REM were sussing out the backstage layout ready for their headline Hyde Park show later in the month and Miss Dynamite was seen eating in the vast marquee which had two tables worth of food which included sausages, burgers, strawberries and cream, cold meat, fish and a full bar dishing out free drinks to all the guests. Tom from Keane could be seen everywhere and Travis rarely stayed inside their dressing room.
We managed to bump into Bill Gates after he 'spent a penny' and managed to scoop some 'priceless' scandal. One of the organisers from Oxfam asked Gates if he would be part of an advert to raise awareness for poverty. The film, which most of you have already probably seen, shows various celebrities clicking their fingers every two seconds to indicate the death of a child in Africa. Gates turned down the request claiming that 'he can't click his fingers'. A more pleasant celebrity was Snoop Dogg, who despite having security as big as Bill Gates ego still welcomed the children backstage to have their programmes signed by him.
Razorlight arrived around 4pm and stayed until the very end and we managed to meet Madonna. At last our conquest to meet the Queen Of Pop came to an end. Madge had her own dressing room with a white curtain to stop onlookers peering inside. There was a second double dressing room for her band and two security guards did not leave the outside compound. Robbie, whose dressing room was directly opposite manage to get an invite to meet her and hubby Guy was seen popping in and out. Madonna eventually came out to meet ABLE2 and we gave her our praises, although with a lack of eye contact you could tell she wasn't interested. Other fans were given the sending off from security and when Madge went for an interview in the BBC compound outside the artist garden it was a closed set. But at least we can now say we have met Madonna.
Joss Stone was another celebrity who stayed until the end, apparently after the show guests were told not to leave the backstage area until at least an hour. This even included Paul McCartney, Bob Geldof and the diva herself Mariah Carey. Now even though we have slagged Carey off we can reveal that she isn't as bad as the reputation she has.
We managed to meet her actually inside her dressing room. Although it was done out quite nicely it was nothing special and she is a very pleasant woman, mind you her music still sucks in our opinion! Slash was spotted by our guest we took in the artist marquee having a meal and Roger Daltrey had his own dressing room separate to the rest of the band. George Michael was quickly rushed in for his surprise appearance and somehow managed to leave straight away.
The media area was packed with portacabins with various DJ's including Vernon Kaye, Jo Whiley and new Radio Two boy Chris Evans. Because the show over ran by 2 and a half hours the two parties at Cafe Royal and The Embassy club didn't see many celebrities as hoped although with a day so mind blowing this was no dampener and we can safely say that we had the best day in our entire lives. Let’s hope that there will be no need for another poverty concert but at the same time lets pray that another historic concert will take place in our lifetime.