Ironic that with broadcast, cable, and satellite tv capability, the best and only way to see any of the music performed at today's concerts around the world is through a three inch window in my computer screen on aol.com. As feared, MTV is wasting their bandwidth by carrying the same program on both MTV and VH-1 (why?) and what they are showing is chopped up highlights with interviews. I doubt any artist's set has been aired it it's entirety, and we're talking 10-20 minute sets. The performances are said to be available on demand on aol.com over the summer, which is nice, but the quality of a video stream has yet to match that of a television signal. In any case, it's nice to see the worldwide music audience support the music and by default the cause gets helped too I suppose. Here's a few highlights so far, all times edt (thank you aol.com).
Sir Paul McCartney with U2, London, 9:00am
U2 w/Paul sounded great opening the show with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," complete with animated Sgt. Pepper cover backdrop video, and a horn section dressed in the Sgt. Pepper uniforms. Nice touch. Had to run out between 9-10am, hope to catch the rest of this set and Coldplay later on the repeat.
Elton John, London, 10:00am
The bitch was never so, back, as it were. He'll be headlining the Philadelphia 4th of July concert in two days at the site of today's Philadelphia Live 8 show in front of the Art Museum.
Dido, London, 10:20am
Bob Geldof introduced Bill Gates (yikes) who introduced Dido, who opened with a nice version of "White Flag," then she brought out Yousou N'Dour to sing with her on "Thank You" and Neneh Cherry's "Seven Seconds." Great stuff.
Brian Wilson, Berlin, 1:10pm
"Heroes & Villains, God Only Knows, Wouldn't It Be Nice, Good Vibrations, Fun Fun Fun." God bless Brian Wilson.
Bruce Cockburn, Toronto, 1:36pm
Opened with "If I Had a Rocket Launcher," also played a nice version of "Waiting for a Miracle." I think I missed a song in between, hope to catch a replay sometime.
A-ha, Berlin, 2:35pm
Who knew these guys were even still together. They sound great, even played "Take On Me" (how could they not).
Deep Purple, Toronto, 3:00pm
Again, who knew these guys were still a band. They sound great too, even if they look a little scary as old guys with long hair. Flipping the dial, Dave Matthews is on right now in Philly, the Killers are onstage in London, and it's getting dark in Rome. There have been a lot of interesting artists local to their countries who have been very cool to check out on the worldcast.
Joss Stone, London, 3:15pm
Glad I jumped back to London in time to catch Joss Stone with a superb backup band. The sound over aol.com is amazingly good and the picture is even better than you would expect from a computer video stream. No hope I guess for these sets getting any broadcast airtime, maybe they'll release a dvd one day. "I Had a Dream Last Night" was nice and slow and soulful. The guitarist actually has a guitar with the guitar body cut into the shape of Africa, like the Live Aid/Live 8 logos (yikes). She's ending her set with "Some Kind of Wonderful." What a voice - is she still sixteen? seventeen? Hard to believe.
Philly is seeing replays from other cities on the video screens, including Tim McGraw singing "Live Like You Were Dying" from Berlin. An African group I don't know is playing now in Toronto. It's dark in Rome as an Italian group is sounding really good on the stage there. The light is fading in Berlin and the crowd seems to be too, judging from the aeriel view. I'd really like to get a replay of all the sets in their entirety - some of these artists who are unknown outside their home country really sound great. Too bad the feeds from Paris and Rome don't give an overlay with the group's name. The Scissor Sisters just took the stage in London; I'll freely admit I don't get them. More later.
Linkin Park with Jay-Z now rocking Philly, not exactly my cup of tea. It's dark in Berlin, not sure who's on but they sound pretty good. Scissor Sisters just ended in London. It's twilight now in Paris, there's a French band playing, crowd seems to be thinning there too. Toronto between sets, everywhere seems to have gotten great weather today. Rome is going strong into the night with an Italian artist. Heading toward 4:00pm, Velvet Revolver's up next in London, time to go sweep the patio. Just patched the wireless laptop computer into the stereo in time to hear Sting in London on the outdoor speakers, 4:30pm. Will have to catch Bryan Ferry later on the repeat; he's on simultaenously in Berlin.
Mariah Carey took the stage in London at 5:00pm much to the seeming delight of the crowd there. Meanwhile an interesting duo is singing classical style in Paris, sounding really good. A band I can't identify is playing in Toronto. Sarah McLachlan is now playing in Philly - hope I can catch her full set on the replay. Meanwhile a great sounding band with a female lead singer is playing Rome, got to find out who they are, 4:45pm. I wouldn't count myself as a fan of Maroon 5 but they're sounding pretty good right now in Philly, 5:10pm. Robbie Williams is playing in London, an Italian guy is singing in Rome, Paris is between sets, a group I don't know is on in Berlin, and another group I can't identify is playing in Toronto at 5:17pm.
The Who, London, 5:40pm
Townshend seems to be wearing his age a little better than Daltry, but neither of them look as scary as Deep Purple. "Who Are You" was never my idea of a great Who song, but they still sounded great on "Won't Get Fooled Again." Scanning the cities, Paris and Berlin are between sets, Jann Arden is playing in Toronto, Rob Thomas is in Philadelphia and an Italian guy is singing in Rome.
Pink Floyd, London, 6:05pm
Word is that Roger Waters has not performed with the other three guys in twenty-four years, talk about a falling out. MTV actually went live for Floyd, only bailing during the last (and best) song of the set which consisted of "Breathe," "Money," "Wish You Were Here," and "Comfortably Numb." Gilmour looked kind of steely but man did he cut some great lead guitar and the Floyd sounded as great as they ever did. If they really patched things up and took this on the road, yeah, but did they really...
Stevie Wonder, Philadelphia, & Paul McCartney, London, 6:30pm
The Philadelphia and London finales happened simultaneously which apparently short circuited whatever was left of the brains calling the shots for the MTV "coverage" as neither set received a proper airing, even with the miracle of tape delay. Thanks to AOL.com once again for providing unedited access to all the music. McCartney had a great pool of talent to bring back on stage for the finale, including a surprise duet with George Michael on "Drive My Car." The all star reading of part two of "Hey Jude" seemed kind of rote by this point, but hey you can't end a big charity concert without the obligatory all star finale.
The Philadelphia rumor mill had been in high gear all week regarding possible suprise appearances for the finale with speculation including everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Michael Jackson. The speculation hit fever pitch Saturday morning when an xpn announcer repeated rumors that Bob Dylan and/or the Rolling Stones might show up. None of that materialized, however Stevie Wonder did a superb set to close the show in Philadelphia, and although the available star power was somewhat less than in London, Wonder utilized several of the artists on the Philadelphia bill to join him on various songs. One can only hope that one day they'll release a dvd with complete sets, although that's hardly likely.