Sunday, July 08, 2007

A concert to remember

Keith Urban and Alicia Keys perform at Live Earth at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey 7/7/07
Image courtesy: BBC

The best way to avoid an overdose of anything is to insert different kinds of whatever it is you are overdosing on, into your programme. For example, to avoid a movie overdose, switch to comedy in between your mafia drama marathon and you’ll enjoy the genre again instead of getting sick of the black ties and trigger-happy honchos swaggering about. That said, Live Earth was an excellent way to start off my concert-viewing, because the sheer range of music ensured no music fan would be disappointed. There was something for everyone. Of course, the rock fans probably gagged when Kelly Clarkson, KT Tunstall and Akon came on stage, but to be fair, they played some excellent songs as well and anyway no one is trying to compare them to The Police or Roger Waters anyway. That would be sacrilege.

So. I attended my first ever music concert yesterday, and that was Live Earth and it was fantastic. Hey - you there - I can hear you saying ‘Did she just say FIRST music concert’, and the answer is yes, you read it right. It certainly made up for the concerts I haven’t been able to go to till now though because I had the chance to listen to close to twenty artists in one day and most of them were jolly good, so I’m certainly not complaining!

We thought we’d be a bit smart and go ‘early’ (read an hour and a half before the show was scheduled to start, because it was all ticketed anyway), but the plan was not so successful because the queues at Secaucus Junction to get into the shuttle buses which would take us to the Giants Stadium snaked along for quite a few miles. After waiting for an hour, we finally got into a bus and reached the venue at about two minutes to one, which was when the show was supposed to start. It was a hot, sunny day and I amused myself by taking in the atmosphere as people trickled in to the massive stadium and reading a book for one hour and seventeen minutes, because that’s how long it took for the show to finally kick off. The Scottish folk/pop singer-songwriter KT Tunstall was one of the first people to take the stage. I love her songs, humming along to them on a regular basis when I listen to them on the radio. She didn’t disappoint. She sang three of her most popular numbers, ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’, ‘Suddenly I see’ and ‘The Other Side of the World’. People unfamiliar with her music may have heard some of it in the background in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Ugly Betty’ and of course Katharine McPhee’s version of ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ on season 5 of American Idol, which contributed to pushing it up the charts.

She was followed by a band that was introduced as having come “all the way” from Long Island :-D Taking Back Sunday apparently got their name from the lyrics of a band they listened to called The Waiting Process. The rock group is a band I wasn’t familiar with, but I found out later that in 2004 they were the opening act for Blink-182 at one of their concerts, and they also contributed a song to the soundtrack of the just-released ‘Transformers’, though it didn’t feature in the movie.

Keith Urban came on stage next. Again, I know him more as Nicole Kidman’s husband of drug-snorting fame, but the country music star obviously has a pretty illustrious career of his own, with seven number one songs in the US. One of the songs he performed at Live Earth was a cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ with Alicia Keys. Alicia took to the stage on her own later as well.

Then of course, it was time for some yo-yo’ing by Ludacris. I know I’m writing a lot of trivia in this post, but who would believe Ludacris’ real name is Christopher Brian Bridges?! Anyway, one thing that no one can say about African-American singers (I like being politically correct hahahahaha) is that they are NOT entertaining. They know how to play the crowd, they know how to get the crowd on their feet and let’s face it – hip-hop is rad, y’know?!!! Kanye West performed ‘Gold Digger’ which was obviously supereffingtastic, and I was up on my feet, as was most of the audience, through most of it.

Kelly Clarkson, AFI and Akon are some of the other pop and hip-hop artists that played (technically AFI is supposed to punk-rock, but I don’t quite feel they played punk rock yesterday). My sister-dear is a big fan of Akon – I remember him most for his squeaky ‘Lonely’ which irritates me no end, but thankfully he didn’t play ‘Lonely’ and the songs that he did sing were pretty foot-tapping. Kelly Clarkson has a fabulous voice and showed that she was more than just an American Idol (she was the first winner of the contest in 2002, for those of you who are not big fans of Simon Cowell!!).

I’m losing track here – I don’t remember the exact order in which the bands came on, but I’m going to keep at it because I had such a good time and kept saying ‘I’m SO excited’ to the husband as the show progressed, in the manner of those giggly teenagers I sniggered at while we were waiting to get into the arena :-D The Dave Matthews Band, Fall Out Boy and the Smashing Pumpkins satisfied the rock fans and then there was John Mayer who again is an upcoming artist whose music I quite enjoy. I loved ‘Waiting On The World To Change’ particularly. I believe he is playing in London in September – if any of my loyal blog readers is there then, I’d say go listen.

I wasn’t sure whether Al Gore would be in the New York event or the Washington one, but he was very much there yesterday, and what’s more, he stayed for quite a few hours because he came on stage twice. Melissa Etheridge was of course one of the people he introduced and yes, obviously she played the Oscar-winning song ‘I Need To Wake Up’ from Gore’s own ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, as well as another compelling song called ‘Imagine That’ – I’m not sure if she wrote it just for the event. She spoke a lot about global warming and the climate crisis during her songs, actually.

The best acts were indubitably the last. There was Bon Jovi, who sang ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’,‘It’s my Life’ and ‘Dead or Alive’, each song brilliant (of course). By then the sun had gone, the lights illuminated the stage brightly, and with the faint smell of weed in the air (smoking inside the stadium was prohibited but someone definitely broke that rule!!), I felt like there was nowhere else I would rather be at that particular point in time. But then it only got better. Roger Waters (YES!) – I don’t know what to say about this legend without sounding like an idiot, but I was certainly comfortably numb when another brick in the wall was performed, if that makes any sense at all. And then – and THEN – the Police. Sting. Yes. Message in a bottle. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Kevin Bacon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame, Petra Nemkova (the guy sitting behind me shouted out ‘Who are you?’ when she came on stage – I didn’t know myself but apparently she’s some Russian supermodel), David de Rothschild, the British adventurer and environmentalist who is one of 42 people to ever reach both geographical poles and of course Al Gore, were some of the people who introduced the acts in between performances and exhorted everyone watching to pledge to protect our earth.

Live Earth has been heavily criticized by a load of people – to those people I’d just like to say, please read this article that appears in Time today. I’m no proponent of the Save Our World campaign, but at the end of the day I wasn’t going to sit at home when legends were playing at a concert that I wanted to go to anyway, and if they were playing to make more people aware of an issue that could do with some discussion, I don’t see anything wrong with that! I’m going to quote from the article :

But would the Earth have been better off if we all stayed home and did nothing, literally? "That's a fair thought," Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson told TIME before his band's Tokyo show. "It's also a cynical one."

That’s a different topic for a different blog post, though!

P.S I didn't take my camera because we were told that we were not allowed to but after I got there, I realised I was stupid not to have - so no pics UGHHH!

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