Live 8 – Philly Shines

First off, I have to say that I was highly impressed by how well Philly managed to pull off Live 8 on Saturday. The trains were all beautifully managed (well, at least the PATCO side – I heard grumbling about SEPTA), the helpers and city workers were all on the same page, and best of all, the people were all … well, particularly un-Philly like.

We had a caravan (19 people) heading in from Jersey, including 5 teenagers and 5 little kids, and were able to make it to the 2nd big screen with little effort. The trip itself was fun as we got to show off a little of the city – particularly to the kids – while admiring the spectacle around us ourselves. The sights were great to see – people smiling, a great vibe and and around the whole place, the activists, the inactivists, the young, the old, the parents, the practicing to be parents – it was all there to behold and left you with little to do but smile.

Although the shows themselves were a teensy bit disappointing (most of the acts were on for less than 15 minutes), it was still a great time. The Kaiser Chiefs started off very promising, putting on a heck of a set, followed by a very energetic and likeable Black-Eyed Peas. Then Bon Jovi came on to rev up his local crowd.

After that, the ‘show’ started to lose momentum throught the sets of Destiny’s Child and Kayne West who were enjoyable if not exactly pumping up the crowd. However, Will Smith really got everyone into the vibe with his set and pulling at the emotions of his hometown crowd. From there it was a mixed bag – Dave Matthews Band was disappointing, as was Alicia Keys – although the disappointment with her was that she didn’t play longer. Toby Keith was in there, and I remember thinking that he wasn’t bad, if again, not entirely entralling. One of the best sets of the night was that of Linkin Park and Jay-Z. They were energetic, they were fun, they were loud and they probably had the most raw passion of any act there. Awesome – I really need to see them live sometime.

Def Leppard was a joke – they came on late, and to be frank could have missed their set entirely. Many of the later bands like Jars of Clay and Keith Urban were okay but not very memorable. Even Sarah McLachlan was somewhat underimpressive – though her duet with Josh Groban was pretty good. And I think that the last two acts – Maroon 5 and perenially excellent performer Stevie Wonder were both excellent but a bit too short.

In the end, I think that might have been one of the major short-comings of this show – there was no time for the crowd to start getting into the often too-short performances. I wasn’t a fan of some of the acts, but I could have been just as happy relaxing (read:napping) through a 30-45 minute set of Destiny’s Child as I was through a 15-minute set. I see no reason why they couldn’t have taken this show into the evening, and adding some of the other acts that were rumored to be coming (including Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones and most especially Bruce Springsteen. It would have also been nice to see some of the local acts like The Roots or even Love Seed Mama Jump play. Heck, what about a Hooters reunion 20 years later? Okay, maybe not.

Still, the music was only part of the spectacle, and the other part was the people and the environs. We had a good time in that respect – the people-watching was excellent, as my wife’s Flickrstream can attest. There were those out for the Live 8 theme, as well as those out for their own reasons (many of whom really need to take remedial English classes). The food was a bit steep, but not excessively so considering the stranglehold they really had over us – we brought our own drinks and still spent $60+ on food and drink while we were there (did I mention that it was hot).

But in the end, after 8+ hours on the grass along the Ben Franklin Parkway, we were all satisfied with the experience. My son and his friends were enjoying the sun and fun, if not as much the music (not their favorite bands, I guess). My mother-in-law and other newly-met relatives from my wife’s side seemed to be enjoying the Philly area that they were being exposed to. And my new cousins (actually my wife’s cousins, but who’s counting) were having a ball – and made their way into the paper.

Like I said, I had a good time. I can think of ways to make it better, but overall I have to say that the day was a huge success. Philly should be proud of the way that it came off in this thing.

Other opinions
A different viewVillage Voice

Other Links »


Leave a Reply