Monday, July 09, 2007

Live Earth - music, mixed messages, and whingeing critics

A number of Foxtel channels showed almost 24 hours of the Live Earth concerts on the weekend. It was highly watchable if you did as I did - digitally recording it and then fast forwarding through the constant ads for various Foxtel programs, and zipping past a couple of dud artists.
Biggest and brightest show was in London, while Beijing's was rather awful - icky music and with a tiny audience. A fairly token effort.
Crowded House, Foo Fighters and Madonna all seemed to go off (apart from Madonna's dreary charity single). And one artist who surprised me was Alicia Keyes, who came out with some solid soul covers. Much better than the mush that made her famous.
With simultaneous concerts, there were a couple of interesting doubling ups. James Blunt sang a Cat Stevens song in London (did an okay job of it I thought), and a little while later Yusuf (the ex Cat himself) turned up in Hamburg to sing some more of his own stuff. While Marvin Gaye's Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) was covered by Corrinne Bailey Rae and John Legend in London, then again a while later by Alicia Keyes in New York. I read somewhere that What A Wonderful World and Gimme Shelter also turned up twice.
Liked lots of other artists, and wished I'd been there to see them live - Keane, Snow Patrol, Macy Gray, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Baaba Maal, Joss Stone, Jack Johnson...
There have been plenty of critics pointing out the obvious irony of listening to enviro-messages coming out of the mouths of far from carbon-neutral cashed-up pop stars. But the world's media has spent years demonising greenies and turning collective deaf ears to environmental scientists (their warnings are ignored or at best put off as something for us all to face some day down the track, but not right now while doing something about it might cost us a buck or two). Big media rarely listens to anyone who's not rich and/or powerful anyway. If you're a hippie with a message about living sustainably in a beach shack with a veggie patch, nobody's going to give you air time. So getting big names to go even partially green and giving the message a new platform, how can that hurt? And, well, mega-concerts can be a lot of fun.
Pop stars aren't likely to change the world a whole lot, but a concert for a good cause is usually preferable to one that's solely for their bank balances.
Of course what would be really nice would be if people were willing to vote for politicians who didn't always put short-term $ before the future of our planet. End of transmission!

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