Featuring Various Artists
Four months after the Live 8 concerts were staged the DVD has hit the shelves just in time for the holiday season. If you have lived under a rock this past year Live 8 was a series of concerts held in conjunction with the Make Poverty History campaign on July 2nd and July 6th. The goal was to pressure leaders of the world?s eight most powerful economic nations to increase aid, negotiate fair trade and drop the debts of the world?s poorest countries.
Many of the world?s most popular musicians and public figures took part in the events, which was approximately seen and heard by 3 billion people across the globe. Though heavily criticized by many as serving as promotional tool for artists to sell their music, the Live 8 events were successful in the fact that they drew the west?s attention to the G8 summit that was being held at the Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland from July 6-8.
The four-disc set features 10 hours of concert footage, 120 performances, unseen footage, live messages, audio options, subtitles for the spoken word sections and a booklet consisting of essays from concert organizer Bob Geldof and writer Paul Vallely. For more information on the Live 8 DVD collection visit www.live8livedvd.com. All proceeds from DVD sales will go to the Band Aid Charitable Trust for African Relief.
Focusing mainly on the London show, disc 1 of the Live 8 DVD showcases a wide array of performances from mainly U.K. artists but select performances from Rome, Paris, Berlin and Philadelphia are also featured. The most memorable shows come courtesy of the ever-inspiring U2 who kicked things off with Paul McCartney for a rocking rendition of the Beatles classic ?Sgt. Pepper?s Lonely Hearts Club Band?.
British hip hop queen Ms. Dynamite puts on a good show while Will Smith?s snapping finger demonstration (which demonstrated that a child dies every three seconds of extreme poverty) reminded the crowd why these concerts were being held. British act The Kaiser Chiefs rocked Philadelphia and Annie Lennox?s stirring solo rendition of her hit song ?Why? that ran in congruence with a heartfelt video featuring HIV inflicted individuals was an emotional highlight.
My faults with disc 1, as with the entire DVD is the editing of performances. They could have cut one Coldplay song out and another from Elton John and added more Ms. Dynamite and Green Day who both have only one song apiece featured in the whole set. I also cannot figure out why Geldof?s performance of ?I Don?t Like Mondays? was included. This is an individual whose recording career has been non-existent for over twenty years and like Live Aid in 1985, Geldof?s inclusion feels tacked on rather than necessary.
Most memorable moment: Annie Lennox?s performance
Moment of shame: Drug poster boy Pete Doherty?s lacklustre duet with Elton John.
Picking up where disc 1 left off, the second disc in the set once again heavily features performances from the London and Philadelphia shows. Flipping back and forth from performer to performer and concert to concert, disk 2 is prominently more diverse in its artist selection than the first disc. Kanye West puts in a high intense show in Philadelphia (only one song?), Will Smith?s harmless raps entertained the Philly crowd and Sarah McLachlan put on an emotional performance singing her sadly beautiful song ?Angel.? The Scissor Sisters were as quirky as ever playing in London and former Police frontman Sting modified the lyrics to his 1983 smash hit ?Every Breath You Take? singing ?We?ll be Watching You? in regards to the G8 leaders whose images adorned the stage and video screen behind the British singer.
The tragedy of extreme poverty became more apparent as Geldof played the Canadian Broadcast Corporation?s video of the 1985 Ethiopian famine that aired at the original Live Aid and featured a young child on the verge of death named Birhan Woldu. Geldof then surprised the crowd by bringing Woldu out where the now-young attractive woman embraced and kissed singer Madonna creating what was easily the most momentous moment of the entire Live 8 event. At that instance the concert switched from being just another awkward love and music peacefest to an event of tremendous significance.
Most memorable moment: Birhan Woldu?s appearance
Moment of shame: Seeing Paris Hilton singing along with Velvet Revolver?s set at the London concert. Does she have to be everywhere?
With the exception of the Africa Calling concert held at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England, Disc 3 documents the remaining hours of the Live 8 concerts that were held on July 2. Brilliant performances from the likes of a fragile Neil Young in Canada playing his first official gig since his brain aneurysm and African artist Vusi Mahlasela from Johannesburg are early highlights while Robbie Williams? commanding set in London revealed just how popular this guy is overseas (and how unknown he is on this side of the pond).
What everyone was anticipating though was the reunion of Pink Floyd who shortly before the concert announced a one off reunion just for Live 8?the group?s first appearance as a foursome since 1981. I?ve never been a huge fan of Floyd but seeing Roger Waters on stage with the three other members of the band was a satisfying moment. It was reported that the reunion caused a huge jump in Pink Floyd album sales but the band, unwilling to profit off the reunion show, donated all royalties to charity.
In Philadelphia, Rob Thomas (of Matchbox Twenty fame) and Adam Levine from Maroon 5 joined up with funk-soul legend Stevie Wonder for the closing of that concert while in London Paul McCartney was joined onstage by dozens of performers for a rendition of ?Hey Jude? too close that edition. It was the typical ending you?ve seen at any all-star concert event (Live Aid, The Freddie Mercury Benefit, Farm Aid) and though it was a little cheesy it seemed a fitting way to wrap it up.
Most memorable moment: Pink Floyd?s first performance as a quartet in 24 years
Moment of shame: Robbie Williams? rendition of Queen?s sports anthem ?We Will Rock You.?. Mr. Williams is no Freddie Mercury.
Described as ?The Final Push,? Live 8 in Edinburgh was held four days after the other concerts on July 6, coinciding with the opening of the G8 Summit being held at Gleneagles. Annie Lennox makes her second appearance with a rocking rendition of ?Sisters Are Doin? it for Themselves,? and Bob Geldof finally plays something other than ?I Don?t like Mondays? when he treats the crowd to the Scottish folk song ?The Great Song of Indifference.?
Live 8 concert co-organizer Midge Ure makes an appearance singing the Ultravox hit ?Vienna? to an enthusiastic crowd at Murrayfield Stadium. Ure of course co-wrote, with Geldof, the Band Aid hit ?Do they Know It?s Christmas Time? and was a member of such popular European acts as The Rich Kids, Ultravox and Thin Lizzy.
Most memorable moment: Bono on stage holding the box that contained the CD of the Live 8 list featuring 38 million signatures.
Moment of shame: U.K. Pop Idol winner Will Young?s performance with James Brown. The world doesn?t need another Justin Timberlake; frankly one is too many.
Found on disc 4, the extras really don?t go into any depth or offer any insights and surprises. I would have liked to see more performances and backstage footage included from all the ten concerts. A documentary on how Live 8 came to be and another on the severity of poverty in Africa would have been proper additions.
There are a couple of short films included, the second one--played out to a Travis song-- reveals how much the western world spends on things like candy, jeans, sneakers, fast food, alcohol, pornography and cigarettes compared to foreign aid given to the poorer nations in the world. It?s a disturbing realization that cannot help but make you feel guilty.
With the insurmountable task of summarizing the global event of Live 8 on DVD, Bob Geldof decided to lean heavily on established stars from the U.K and the U.S. The DVD tries to include as much as possible within in a limited time frame (10 hour running length) but fails in its attempt for diversity. Much of the footage focuses on the London and Philadelphia concerts while Berlin, Rome, Canada, Moscow and Johannesburg are regulated to occasional appearances.
Geldof?s not dumb; London and Philadelphia were featured prominently because having the most popular artists on one disc set will result in higher DVD sales, which means more money to the Band Aid trust to fight extreme poverty in Africa. Special DVD editions are also available for the Rome, Berlin, Cornwall, Canada, and Paris shows. Sometime in the future possibly before Christmas next year, the Philadelphia and London shows will be available separately in their entirety.
Overall Live 8 on DVD will satisfy those looking for highlights only, which the DVD is packed full of?but for those individuals keen on watching a more comprehensive compilation or those who live in a country who served as host for one of the shows that were relatively ignored by this set, pick up one of the individual concert DVDs, they offer a more complete package.
***1/2 stars out of 5 stars.
Originally posted December 7, 2005 at: http://dvd.monstersandcritics.com/reviews/article_1067232.php/DVD_Review_Live_8