Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
93

How We Saved Africa: The Live Aid Videos, In Order


Do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago today? Maybe not, if you are young. But if you are less young, chances are you spent at least some part of the day in front of the television, watching rock stars perform in front of 72,000 people at England's Wembley Stadium or 99,000 people at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium. July 13th, 1985 was Live Aid.

The event, organized by the Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof in an effort to raise money to bring food to millions of people starving in Africa, was in some ways a huge success: over two billion people watched the worldwide broadcast, and it's been estimated that over $280 million was raised. Unfortunately, it has also been estimated that much of this money never made it to the people for which it was intended-that it instead went into supporting military dictatorships that in fact oppressed their citizens.

And so the show stands as much as a symbol of folly as it does of goodwill: the rich and famous rock stars assuaging their guilty consciences, when really: how much fuel was burned to jet Phil Collins across the Atlantic on the Concorde, just so he could play a shitty set with a reunited Led Zeppelin? Other particularly shitty sets were performed by Duran Duran, Bob Dylan and Keith Richards and Ron Wood, and Paul McCartney, whose microphone didn't work. But, you know, I think good intentions should be appreciated. And lots of the music was pretty great.

Here are videos, arranged in the order in which they occurred the day of show. At the very least, the footage provides for a wonderful time capsule of ridiculous fashion and amazingly bad haircuts. Madonna wanted to know if you were ready to get into the groove! And you can totally see Freddie Mercury's penis.

And how!

93 Comments / Post A Comment

LondonLee (#922)

You forgot Status Quo! They opened the show.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kiYAIM4N_A

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Ya, and the nerdcoriest moment of the whole show, co-organizer Midge Ure in a Matrix trenchcoat (fourteen years early), greeting the crowd as if he were logging in: "Hello World!"

keisertroll (#1,117)

Oh, fuck. YOU ALSO FORGOT THE HOOTERS!

keisertroll (#1,117)

And also, in Philadelphia, promoter Larry Magid let some complete unknown take the stage shortly before the concert officially started.

Dave Bry (#422)

Oh. Yes. I didn't forget. This is not a complete list at all. There were like 60 acts that performed that day. And not all of them have video up on Youtube. (No Billy Ocean! I wanted to watch "Caribbean Queen.")

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

In case any of you share my Paul Weller fixation, here's the Style Council:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQkENf57OgU

keisertroll (#1,117)

Too bad I was not even a year old when this happened, five miles from my house. But, at least I saw LIVE 8!

I saw Live Earth! (The first one.)

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Madonna's current boy toy doesn't remember Live Aid- and he's likely tired of getting into her dried out groove.

Come back, George Michael. The world needs you.

(NB I usually think that at least once a day. It's nice to get it out.)

C_Webb (#855)

He SAID he wouldn't let us down. He SAID he wouldn't give us up!

Mount_Prion (#290)

The only person in this post who is still saving Afrikaaaah, tirelessly, is Bono.

Bono cares, y'all.

garge (#736)

And you try saving Africa with your anchor down!

It's really hard.

sunnyciegos (#551)

Cheap cynicism is too easy. You're better.

garge (#736)

Baggage with megalomaniacs! It should wear off eventually.

Mount_Prion (#290)

My cynicism isn't cheap. I actively hate Bono, and this takes genuine effort.

deepomega (#1,720)

No comment, Olds.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

TY;DR

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

See, the semicolon there performs two functions.

What?

cherrispryte (#444)

You know, I could go into a VERY long rant about how "White Man's Burden" it was for these fucking celebrities to try to "save Africa" and the challenges/failures of development aid in the 1980's, but I am instead just going to point out that I was a baby when this concert happened, and y'all are OLD.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

I *love* the Logan's Run vibe around here.

(Silence)

You know, Logan's Run, disco utopia, kill the olds… released in (consults imdb) oh my god.

I escaped Carousel just by being to lazy to show up.

keisertroll (#1,117)

FISH AND PLANKTON AND SEA GREENS AND PROTEIN FROM THE SEA

C_Webb (#855)

More useful than Sam Kinison's painfully hilarious rant at the Ethiopians: "There wouldn't be a famine if YOU PEOPLE WOULD MOVE WHERE THE FOOD IS!", which I think I watched five hundred times on HBO that summer.

brent_cox (#40)

@dntsqz "Logan's Run" is the Millennial "Atlas Shrugged" but they just don't know it yet.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

@brent: TW;NS

Art Yucko (#1,321)

[Truer Words; Not Spoken]

I was a 15 year old fledgling punk rock kid, and I STILL think Freddie Mercury was awesome.

And had an armadillo in his trousers.

Triple_Lindy (#5,915)

I try not to be over the top on the internets, but that was one of the rock's most legendary performances. Ever.

Louis Fyne (#2,066)

Is, was, every will be.

ericdeamer (#945)

Yes!

C_Webb (#855)

So I'm old. I still remember being pissed that the best acts (in my estimation) were all on the other side of the pond, and I'll have you know I just bawled like a cretin watching the live "Do They Know It's Christmas." (Aside: if you leave out the teeth, how hot was Bob Geldof?)

City_Dater (#2,500)

@ C_Webb:

Bob was smoking hot way back then, as my teenage self was achingly aware. He might have helped start me on the path to a lifetime of Bad Decisions in Tight Black Jeans.
Thanks, Bob!

And that Sam Kenison rant is still funny, and painful.

C_Webb (#855)

City Dater, your name is oddly apt for my story of walking out of a Nerve date during which a guy tried vehemently to persuade me that Bob Geldof had murdered Michael Hutchence, and the auto-erotic asphyxiation (or whatever) was a coverup.

sox (#652)

"Bad Decisions in Tight Black Jeans"

This should be the name of your next album, City Dater. Yes and yes.

City_Dater (#2,500)

@ C_Webb:

That is possibly my all-time favorite rockstar murder rumor. These kids with their "Courtney killed Kurt" have no idea what they missed…

City_Dater (#2,500)

@Pattycakes:

Liz Phair is probably hard at work on this even as we sit around typing about it.

bronwyn (#3,351)

You Americans! Always with the teeth. If you never smile, a lack of flouride in the water system is never detected.

(And yes, Geldof was smokin').

Bittersweet (#765)

Geldof is less smokin' if you've seen The Wall. No one looks smokin' looking insane and shaving his eyebrows.

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

Teary with sadness and nostalgia…and love for Chrissie Hynde!

Dave Bry (#422)

Yes! God, she's the best. I think, after watching all these, that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers won the day. That version of "Refugee" was just blistering.

Saw The Pretenders at Summerstage last summer.

She still rawked soooo hard.

Peter Feld (#79)

Thank you so much! I was despondent to miss seeing Elvis Costello that day, due to the time difference between London and California (and lack of YouTube in 1985). Pretty ballsy of him to lead a singalong with 72,000 people, on a song normally heard with an orchestral arrangement, on solo guitar. And his invitation to sing along is slyly subverted by the nuance with which he sings the chorus. And can you imagine nowadays that the line, "There's nothing you can do that can't be done" would send a packed stadium into cheers of recognition?

The Pretenders, "Chain Gang," were also fantastic.

Dylan's comment during his set about doing something for the farmers gave birth to Farm Aid.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Performed less than a mile from the house I grew up in, 9.22.85:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY5x8pF512k

Peter Feld (#79)

Oh and there was nothing more annoying than hearing Geldof introduce "Do They Know It's Christmastime" as though it was the pinnacle of the day's performances – aside from the absurdity of hearing that execrably condescending, First-World elitist song in July. (Although still better than the original video, where the pampered 80s stars march into the studio as if headed off to battle, grimly donning their headphones.) That fucked-up thing never really caught on this side of the Atlantic, especially after Michael Jackson and co. showed everyone the right way do this kind of thing.

C_Webb (#855)

Um … what? Michael Jackson and Co., who a) only did a song because they felt one-upped, and b)whose refusals to cooperate with each other to get the song made inspired an entire Doonesbury book called "Check Your Egos at the Door?"

LondonLee (#922)

@Peter – That might be the wrongest comment I've ever read here.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

The choruses are both memorable?

Dylan is the only one on either record who sounds at all aware of the complications of these projects, *and* he somehow manages not to spoil the good part, which was and is *silly lucky nerds trying to use their power for good.*

C_Webb (#855)

I can't believe I ummed. Shame. I haz it.

Peter Feld (#79)

Great, what do I win?

Think what you like about "We Are The World," but a song that commiserates with starving animist or Muslim Africans because they're missing Christmas is the height of nauseating.

LondonLee (#922)

Actually, Ethiopians are mostly Christian.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@Peter: Go for three!

laurel (#4,035)

@PF: Huh. I thought the song title questioned Africans' ability to tell that it was Xmas given that Xtians were not behaving in a demonstrably "peace on Earth, goodwill to men" way toward suffering people. Not gosh, Africans don't get to have presents and feasts, poor things.

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

I remember exactly where I was – down on the North Wildwood beach, glued to a transistor radio and subjecting my family to a MASSIVE sulk. The biggest music event ever was happening in my city, and there I was, trapped on a family vacation in Jersey.

I look back now and realize that I disliked all but maybe 4 of the acts that played in Philly, so, meh. And, being 13, I probably would have cried if I had had to personally witness poor Simon LeBon hitting The Worst Note of All Time.

Bittersweet (#765)

HG, you and I might be the same person, except that I was trapped on a family vacation down the beach at Rehoboth. And I was so besotted with SLB that I didn't even notice how shitty he sang.

brent_cox (#40)

Also trapped on vacation. In Indian Rocks Beach, FL. Though I did watch some of it. I remember thinking I should be enjoying it more than I was.

Art Yucko (#1,321)
C_Webb (#855)

My cynicism came after my boobies, and I had none of either at that point.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Mine was rapidly gestating and my man junk was, too.

C_Webb (#855)

If I wasn't such a lady, I'd ask which is bigger.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

despite thinking of myself as a gentleman, I'm always happy to get specific about the measurements of my cynicism.

deepomega (#1,720)

I lied, I have a comment!

Good intentions aren't enough.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

…………………but awesome Stadium Pop isn't?

Dave Bry (#422)

Agreed, Deepomega.

C_Webb (#855)

"Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a leopardess* above the Serengeti."

*sounds like "lepress" in the song, but what with the whole Africa Lite theme, I assume he's referring to leopards, not lepers.

deepomega (#1,720)

I bless the rains down in Africa.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Well, if that particular synth-riff can't save Africa, I don't know what can.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Ozzie's blouse would not be out of place on the Grandmas in Boca. Still the man came to party.

sallytomato (#549)

Oh man, I still get a little misty thinking of this because I WENT! All I remember is the horrifically hot weather, Duran Duran, and coming home with a contact high.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Jealousy, are you really taking me over now, about a show that happened a quarter of a century ago???

Jealous. Jealous!

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

My bad — that was envy.

sox (#652)

I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere with one freaking tv station, which was not mtv, so unfortunately I was probably just playing with dollies out in the yard with my Duran Duran record turned up so I could hear it. sigh…

scroll_lock (#4,122)

I was right there with you watching him all summer. "GET THAT SANDWICH OUTTA HERE! It doesn't work unless he looks hungry!"

scroll_lock (#4,122)

^Obvs at C_Webb re Sam!

I used the concert as a cover to cheat on my live-in boyfriend. I said I was going to watch the concert with a friend, and instead headed over to other guy's house. Yes, I used the world's biggest charity concert to act like a slut. It was the summer I turned 30. And damn I had fun.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

"What a Glorious Evening!"

-Lionel Richie

Bittersweet (#765)

Geldof would have cried over this perfidy, but he was probably even then plotting to kill Michael Hutchence.

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

As a former participant in a clandestine affair, I can say that opportunities for a decent chunk of time are few and far between – so you are most definitely excused. At least by me (and my heathen morals).

chouette (#2,277)

In the olden days before the advent of the internets and the ubiquity of cable, children of the eighties who were rural and craved urbanity, jerry-rigging the clock radio in the morning, before school, to get scratchy snatches of Alex Bennett's radio show on the Quake… Live Aid was The. Global. Event. in a nascent global world. And yeah, for people in their twenties it might sound hopelessly naïve that a girl in electric blue eye shadow, foiled by her mother and the west coast that music could save hungry people, but I believed. And in some respects that starry-eyedness has stuck with me, has made me a more thoughtful and compassionate person. Sure, we can all scoff at the peacocking insincere pageantry of it, and from the benefit of hindsight, the wastefulness of it. I thought it was magic.

Also – Tina Turner. That dress.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Yes! No! wait! we love the insincere pageantry — it's the confused, patronizing part we still feel squeamish about…

AnotherStrayCat (#4,970)

I think Mr. Petty made a poor song choice. Sometimes you really do have to live like a refugee.

laurel (#4,035)

Oh dear. [facepalm]

garge (#736)

A;HALKJDFLAK;SKLDS;ASHLKFJD

Dave Bry (#422)

Ha! Yes. (But he played it so well!)

Also, Elvis Costello singing "All You Need Is Love," when, if there ever was a day that made it apparent that you needed more than that. Food, for example.

LondonLee (#922)

And it was probably unwise of Paul Young to change the lyrics of his number to "every time you go away you take a piece of meat with you"

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

Not to mention Weller: "You're the best thing that ever happened to meat in the world." A little snide, I thought.

C_Webb (#855)

And INXS's "What You Need" was just tacky.

bronwyn (#3,351)

Not quite on topic, I know, but I was struck by how many of these performers still have a career – they may not be running strings of hits, but most of them can still sell out reasonable size venues. I'm not sure if that's admirable, or a comment on our ever increasing yearning for old, comfortable music.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

Oh, Powerstation: we hardly knew ye.

I wish Bob Geldof was still referred to as that Boomtown Rats singer.

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