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Live 8: One Day, One Concert, One World

Africa Calling: Live 8 At Eden

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For many decades the benefit concert has been a tried and true method for raising both money and awareness for deserving causes. Over the years with advancements in broadcasting, multimedia presentation and the internet you no longer had to actually attend the concert in person to be part of the social event. In 1984 Irish singer and activist Bob Geldof of Boontown Rats fame organized a gathering of some of the biggest talent in music as Band Aid to produce the hit single, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’. The sales of that record raised millions for famine relief. Then in 1985 Geldof again wanted to make people aware of the world for the plight of many in Africa, AIDS, famine and rampart poverty. This concert was dubbed Live Aid and again millions where raised for a good cause. Geldof is a man who is never satisfied to sit on his laurels, as the twentieth anniversary of Live Aid was on the horizon he planned a bigger and far more elaborate set of concerts, the likes of which have never been seen. The result was given life on July 2nd 2005, Live 8. There where nine concerts planned, one in each of the economically powerful G8 nations and another in Africa. These concerts represented a once in a life time force of nature, musicians gathering the collective voices of millions, presenting their humanitarian plead to the men who made economic policy of the world. These nine concerts with some 150 bands and performers have been captured on two separate DVD sets. Two million people attended in person with an estimated 3 billion watching on the net or television. Their combine voice urged the eight world leaders to listen to a simple three point plan that hopefully would prevent the deaths of 30,000 children each day.

Live 8: One Day, One Concert, One World

This four disc set released by EMI Records is the most mainstream of all the coverage Live 8 would receive. It is a completely addictive box set. The energy of the live concert is infectious. Once I started watching I found myself going from track to track. The layout of the discs is perfectly suited for the presentation of such a vast amount of performances. You can watch it sequentially, or you can go to a separate menu and search the listing of groups and artists. Starting with disc one a globe spins, you zoom down to England and you hear the opening notes of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The camera focuses on a park that is completely covered with people. You view moves to the stage revealing Sir Paul McCartney holding his guitar standing next to U2’s politically active front man Bono. The horn section is dressed in the colorful and famous Sgt. Pepper outfits, even though these concerts are for a serious cause the bands did not forget they where there to entertain as well. The whole box set is full of unusual juxtaposition of talent. Bands and performers you never would image on stage together are there performing their best loved songs and newer fair to the cheers of a sea of fans.

Some of the other highlights of disc one:

U2: Beautiful

Sir Elton John The Bitch is Back / Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting

Dido & Youssou N'Dour 7 Seconds

Black Eyed Peas Where is Love

Annie Lennox Sweet Dreams

Disc Two:

Destiny's Child Survivor

Madonna Like A Prayer

Will Smith The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Brian Wilson Good Vibrations

Disc Three:

Mariah Carey Hero

Pet Shop Boys Go West

The Who Won't Get Fooled Again

Stevie Wonder/Rob Thomas Higher Ground

Pink Floyd Comfortably Numb

Disc Four: (Extras)

Good Charlotte

Shakira

Faith Hill

Tim McGraw

Seriously, where else could you have a DVD box set that combines Faith Hill, Madonna and Elton John? This is with out any doubt the most eclectic music DVD ever produced. Even non musicians got into the act. Performances are introduced by such A List personalities as Bill Gates and Natalie Portman. Every generation will get something out of this. For those like myself with a few more years under our belts we can remember concerts of our youth with Pink Floyd, the Who and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Those a little younger will enjoy the Black Eyed Peas, Destiny’s Child and Maroon 5. There are performances enough to go around for all. The set is not preachy at all. While the message is one of life and death the performers are doing what they do best, give fantastic performances. There is a level of energy in this set of concerts that I have not seen in a long, long time. The combination of different acts presents some of material in a way that is unexpected and delightful.

The technical aspects of this box set are as well thought out as the concerts themselves. The full screen video is crisp and clear. For a live performance there is an amazing lack of any defect to mar your enjoyment. Editing this set must have been some effort considering the sheer amount of raw material to go through. The audio is extremely well done. It is presented in both Dolby 5.1 and DTS. The DTS did seem to provide a little more expansive feel to the rear speakers. Both had a reasonable channel separation.

Live 8 At Eden: Africa Calling

While most of the world’s attention was focused on the main Live 8 concerts there was another major even that took place on July 2nd, 2005 in Eden Project located in Cornwall, South West England. The producers working closely with WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) collected some of Africa’s finest musicians to assist in this global effort. Many people might ask why they should purchase a two disc set that has nobody famous in to doing songs you never heard of. Please, if you are thinking this at all remember that the United States is only one member of a large global population. Here in the States we tend to become so involved with our own version of music, dance and culture that we forget about the whole rest of the world. This box set will open your eyes to some incredibly fantastic performances.

Disc one opens with a performance from Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited. The beat of the music surrounds you, drawing you in until you feel the comfort and support this music can provide. Geoffrey Oryema and Land of Anaka perform a little later on with Peter Gabriel. While some acts where energetic, full of dance this performance was more on the serious side. It reminded me a lot of the folk songs of my youth. Back then a man with a guitar would sing of the injustice in the world. The language may be different here but the spirit remains. Artists are often at their best when standing for a cause and this concert is a prime example. As Oryeme sings in a soulful voice Gabriel moves closer providing a haunting harmony.

African music is at the heart of so much of the music we are familiar with the novice will not feel left out. The origins of blues, hip-hop, rap, several percussion heavy formats are all here. Even if you never displayed an interest in music from this ancient continent give this boxes set a chance, you will not be sorry. Since many of the world’s economic based problems affect Africa most seriously these performers have the absolute moral right to mention the dire conditions of their homeland. Still, they are there to perform and they do so with flair and imagination.

Rhino has done a great job with this two disc box set. The menus are clear and easy to follow. The video is as close to reference quality as possible with live material. The color balance is absolutely perfect. The brilliant colors of the costumes stand out with every detail noticeable. As with the other Live 8 set the audio is available in both Dolby 5.1 and DTS. Once again the DTS track gives a more realistic live feel to the sound. The music will fill your room transporting you to the concert. Not only is this a great way to broaden your musical tastes it just happens to be one of the best produced live concert DVDs I have seen.

These two box sets will literally take you on a musical journey you will want to revisit time and time again. No matter what your normal taste in music happens to be there is something here for you. More importantly, there are tracks that will introduce you to music you never thought you would enjoy.

Posted 10/30/05    Reposted 11/30/05

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