:: Saturday, July 02, 2005 ::
Live 8. Philadelphia. July 2, 2005. Part of the most-watched international event in history.
I was there.
I got to help cover this massive event, one of the largest ever in Philadelphia and the world. It was such an amazing experience to be part of a historic event like this. I'm still processing just how incredible the event was.
If you haven't heard, Live 8 was a series of 10 free concerts held today featuring popular bands and singers in major cities around the world to try to influence the G8 nations (which are meeting this coming week) to provide more assistance to Africa, where a person dies every three seconds from starvation or disease. The extreme poverty has been worsened by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and many of the people in the continent's countries are desperate for help. Live 8 comes during the 20th anniversary of Live Aid, which featured concerts in London and Philadelphia and raised millions of dollars to help the poorest in Africa. This time, as their slogan goes, "We don't want your money; we want your voice." Live 8 organizers hope the the G8 leaders will be influenced by unity shown worldwide by those who watched the concerts, live, on TV, or online, and agreed with the message.
I got up at 5 a.m. after (foolishly) staying up a bit too late last night. I quickly got downtown and walked to the concert area to start my shift. I had been assigned to cover the morning events before the concert actually started at noon. I interviewed people who had stayed up the entire night to get a good viewing location and did some early reporting so the newspaper could get a story online for the newspaper's website.
I also covered a press conference for ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History, which is an umbrella organization for groups working to help those in Africa. Among the speakers were actor Chris Tucker, as well as members from the band Jars of Clay (I had never heard of them, but apparently they're famous?).
I then covered a bit of the concert as it began. Actor Will Smith introduced the show with a dramatic demonstration of just how bad the situation in Africa is: He had the audience members snap their fingers every three seconds. That's how frequently there is a poverty-related death in Africa, where the poorest die from diseases that we've long had cures for because they cannot afford the medicine.
The Black Eyed Peas were the first group to perform. They sang "Where Is The Love?" and "Let's Get It Started," among a couple other songs. Then Bon Jovi sang "Livin' on a Prayer" (an 80s classic popular with my college residence, Leverett House) and "It's My Life." Soon to part ways Destiny's Child followed with "Survivor" and "Say My Name," and a couple more songs.
I then had to go back to the office to do a write-up of what went on so far in the day, so I missed Kanye West, Will Smith (who performed blast-from-the-past "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"), the Dave Matthews Band (sad tear), and Toby Keith (yes, Bruce, I had a chance to see Toby Keith in concert here but missed it, and even though I could tell you that I profess no supreme love for country music or TK in general, I know you are still disappointed in me... you can go ahead and never speak to me again, ha!).
After finishing my writing, I was done with my 8-hour shift, so I went back to the concert. I caught the very end of Alicia Keys' set (she's a great performer; I had seen her in concert before, as I had Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child, and Bon Jovi). Then, Linkin Park came on and performed some of their hits. They were soon joined by Jay-Z, and they performed a few songs together, including Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'".
Def Leppard was next, and they seemed somewhat out of place with the rest of the lineup, but I did enjoy their performance of "Pour Some Sugar On Me," another classic cherished by my members of my college residence at our 80s dances.
Finishing the day were Sarah McLaughlan (with an appearance by Josh Groban, who joined McLaughlan during her song "Angel"), Jars of Clay (I didn't know any of their songs at all, and neither did most of the rest of the audience), Maroon 5 (my sister's seeing them in concert later this summer; I never realized that I actually like some of their songs until today), Keith Urban, Matchbox Twenty lead singer Rob Thomas (he sang his solo album songs but then sang "3 a.m.," which is a Matchbox Twenty song), and finally the legendary Stevie Wonder closed the show. Throughout the concert, there were introductions by Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, and Kami, the HIV-positive character from South Africa's version of Sesame Street. Paula Abdul made a cameo appearance near the end, too, while Stevie Wonder was performing.
Ah, it was a great concert. They said a million people were there on the streets at the concert. It feels great to be a part of it. I still think London had the better lineup, with Mariah Carey, Elton John, Coldplay, Sting, Madonna, U2, Paul McCartney, and REM (come on, "Everybody Hurts" and "Man on the Moon"!), but it was great to see so many energetic acts today. Now, I've got to do my part to help those in Africa... angry diatribe on this subject to come later...
After the concert, I went back to the office to pick up some items, and then I went to Penn's Landing, where there was another event, this one part of the city's Fourth of July celebrations. There was a free Ruben Studdard (of American Idol fame) concert, but I only caught his last song, which was his single "Flying Without Wings," a cover of British singing group Westlife's popular single (I suspect many of Ruben's American fans don't know this).
The concert was followed by a fireworks show, and I just have to say it was one of the biggest fireworks shows I've ever seen... and this is just a pre-July 4th show... there's still the fireworks show after the free Elton John concert on the actual fourth. Tonight's show was set to rousing music played on the loudspeakers, and the fireworks were pretty well timed to the music. I kept expecting the show to end because it had gone on for a while, but it still kept on going... it must have been over 20 minutes long. The finale was breathtaking, and loud, too. They set the fireworks over the water on the waterfront, so it made for a nice view.
Now, I'm getting ready to go to sleep because it has been a long, but deeply satisfying and memorable, day.
Anecdote of the Day: I was at the supermarket when I passed this lady wearing the most hideous outfit (think: revealing muumuu). I thought to myself, "Wow, those clothes makes her look terrible." But then a moment later, the man behind me says to the lady, "You're looking mighty fine tonight, miss" (exact quote).
There seems to be a disconnect...
:: SL 11:14 PM [+] ::