The original Live Aid concert was the Woodstock of my generation (those of us born in the 60s and 70s), so it was impossible for Bob Geldof to capture lightning in a bottle again. From the spontaneity that gave them birth to the performances we saw that day, the 1985 concerts were amazing in so many ways. I’ll never forget watching my favorite band of all time, Led Zeppelin, reunite for a set with Phil Collins, who had played in London earlier in the day and then taken the Concorde to Philadelphia.
Live 8 was destined to pale in comparison, in my view, but, of course, Bob Geldof didn’t organize the 2005 shows because he wanted to relive the past. He did so because the problems he wanted to address two decades ago still exist, and I give him all the credit in the world for wanting to bring attention to them once more. Living in a country where sometimes we lose sight of what’s really important, I thank Geldof for being tireless in that way. I don’t know what religion he worships (if any), but his selflessness puts him head and shoulders above Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others who talk garbage rather than truly try to help others.
Getting back to this four-disc set, the best part of it is that we don’t have to deal with those idiotic MTV and VH1 VJs who kept interrupting the concert broadcasts to blather about stupid crap or talk to drunk attendees who just wanted to mug for the camera. I was looking forward to seeing Pink Floyd reunited, and I was blown away when they cut away toward the end, rather than show the complete set. I noticed they did that to The Who and other bands as well; luckily, none of that nonsense appears on these DVDs.
No matter what kind of music you like, I’m sure you’ll find something to appreciate among the dozens of acts featured in this set. Each disc enables you to access performances by artist name, a handy feature considering there are few people who like literally every band on these DVDs.
The video quality of these discs certainly isn’t high-def, although, as you might expect, plenty of care was put into ensuring that the performances sound great. You’ll find the bonus features on disc four. The bulk of them consist of performances by bands that weren’t included in the main concert film, for whatever reason. You’ll also find a pair of videos, one accompanied by The Who’s “Who Are You?” and the other with “Why Does it Always Rain on Me?” (I’m unsure of the artist) as its soundtrack. They were shown during the concert and help drive home the Live 8 message.
Finally, we get a tiny video clip with Ricky Gervais, who seems to be channeling his character from his HBO show “Extras” as he delivers an amusing greeting to concertgoers, as well as a 15-minute guided tour of the backstage area at London’s Hyde Park and an eight-minute clip that covers the Pink Floyd reunion, complete with the rehearsal for “Wish You Were Here.” Unsurprisingly, the band members are frank in their discussion of why they decided to get back together, despite the bitter acrimony that drove them apart over 20 years ago. That last one is the most interesting as far as this set’s documentary materials go. I would have liked to see more stuff like that, but I realize that once you fill these discs with the concert footage, you don’t have more room left over.