(*rather* belated) reflections on Live Aid - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-20-2002, 03:42 PM   #1
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(*rather* belated) reflections on Live Aid

I didn't know anything, I just listened. For years, all I knew of Bono was his voice, his words, his band, and it was more than enough. The music is powerful medicine. Yet, I always was an archives kind of girl, a rock'n'roll historian who'd dug out every review, every Billboard chart, every interview to be found on the roots of my music and of the heroes who rescued me from my grey world, namely the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, and every artist they called influences.
U2, however, was an Eighties band, they didn't show up in anybody's archives, they just turned up on the radio and seized my imagination with those songs. In the Eighties, I was a starving art student, no TV, just a couple of music magazines for news. I didn't see videos, I didn't see Live Aid, never knew how U2 "broke out" with that performance, didn't even really know what they looked like on stage until Rattle and Hum came out in 1989. By which time, of course, they had rearranged my DNA with The Joshua Tree, and captured most of the world at the same time. That much I knew.
Now it's 15 years later, and thanks to the Internet community, I'm researching the archives again -- this time, the U2 video archives. In rock'n'roll, Bono at 41 is a sort of elder statesman, especially after this latest, triumphant tour. I'm enjoying watching him and the boys age along with me; the lines around their eyes are appealing, and a slightly grizzled maturity on four still-fiery hearts is reassuring. I've seen a thousand photos of them throughout the years, of course, but I've learned that those do not do justice to the animated Bono. I've been enjoying The Fly's jaded swagger and the close-cropped frontman of POPmart, but last night I watched Live Aid for the first time.

That fresh-faced singer was a revelation. The song, Bad, is a revelation, isn't it? What a choice for such a "greatest-hits" kind of affair (and an Eighties one at that *bad synth-pop flashback*)... That singer, barely 25, looked out on that crowd with the earnestness and conviction of the fresh-faced Henry V...knowing that winning their trust meant -- somehow -- winning this battle. His eyes as he sings the first lines -- If you twist and turn away...If you tear yourself in two again... His eyes demand quiet, they burn with respect for the suffering. They perhaps even pray. The size of the audience seems not to matter; he trusts them to hear and to sing, as if they're all in a club together. And they do. They listen, when he cues Walk on the Wild Side the volume, the unity, is astonishing! It's one thing to watch a 20-year veteran with history and a killer back catalogue work his crowd; it's quite another to see an up-and-coming band take 15 minutes and a non-single to a 12-hour marathon of hitmakers, and hold 70,000 non-partisans breathless. (Although I take a certain pride in seeing all those U2 flags that made it right up to the front ) And of course -- the dance. He sings to a stadium as if it's just the right size for his heart, and he finds just one (well, three) to take in his arms because that's how big a heart ought to be.

Why should I be surprised? Why am I so touched, so vulnerable after all these years of knowing full well what they do? Not sure, but that young Bono moves me...it's more than instinct, it's faith. At 25, I was just as hungry, but invisible. Bono was -- the "blind ambition" as he's said, his was an almost reckless enthusiasm, perhaps, in simply shouting out to his God. Shouting it out: he never doubted that that was okay, that it would be fine with God (while the "pop" world was kinda irrelevant) if he had this conversation with the people, the more the better. In that performance, his reach was higher than I could imagine, his audacity beyond my comprehension, his compassion the stuff of my dreams. Why did he not fly apart??

It took me until 2001 to truly perceive that Bono is just a guy with a life like me. His hunger was always so deep, his restlessness so vocal, his spiritual dialogue so vehement, that they outshone all his ordinariness. Really, what I'd been hearing all those years was his Muse (and my own), unmitigated by boring mortality; I'm older now, I see he's a person like me, and through my own spiritual journey, I think I know why he doesn't fly apart. But I'm still in awe of that 25-year-old. If I had seen him that day when I myself was just 22, lost and small, it would have changed my perception of him not a whit. He looked like he always sounded, except for one thing: this time, I saw the ordinariness, and I saw it transformed by that Muse, by that outsized faith in Love -- the kind that makes us do the right thing. I make no apology for saying this: on Live Aid I see an angel, pure in heart, his fiery faith lifting him up -- sure, beyond "shame" as some would have it, but also beyond "safe," believing with his very life that to touch is to heal, and damn the cynics. He is an innocent, who feels the pain of the world as I did; he is strong -- or at least, vocal -- as I was not.

As all of us must, he left that kind of innocence behind -- but not his Muse. That same spirit elevated us all throughout last year. Bono's heart is as open now as it was in 1985, and the light of his Live Aid performance is likewise no less intense today. Do we ever stop being 22, green and uncertain deep down inside, any more than we stop being ten? I only know there's a frightened young woman inside of me with a little more hope in her heart, and a little less despair, because a brash young man with a faith to move mountains caught her across time in his gaze, and said, "We're gonna be okay..."

peace all,
Deb D

take some time out and entertain the questions of a
longing heart
-- Steve Beard

the greatest frontman in the world - by truecoloursfly: http://www.atu2.com/news/article.src?ID=1575

[This message has been edited by truecoloursfly (edited 02-20-2002).]

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Old 02-20-2002, 04:19 PM   #2
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I loved Live Aid. What a beautiful memory!


[This message has been edited by *Stormy* (edited 02-20-2002).]
Old 02-20-2002, 05:26 PM   #3
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I remember Live Aid being the first televised concert event I ever watched. I was 14 at the time, already a U2 fan for 2 years and had seen them in concert a few months earlier.

I remember setting my alarm clock, and sneaking downstairs at 4 in the morning because I didn't want to miss a minute of the Wembley portion of Live Aid, and I didn't know when U2 were going to be on. So I crept downstairs - I watched The Boomtown Rats, and watched Freddie Mercury perform after long last. I watched Sade. By the time U2 came on the sun was high in the sky and the world outside my livingroom was alive with the other kids my age playing. My parents had left to do some shopping and my older brother left for work. I was alone with my MTV, completely lost in a moment but I had lost track of the time.

Then the moment I was waiting for arrived. U2 took the stage and I sat there on the couch ready to reminisce the show I had seen earlier that year. But I was in for a completely different experience.

Don't get me wrong, I've always been moved by the work of U2, I've always found beauty in their music and their songs have always given me peace. But that day, as I watched U2 perform at Live Aid, I shook. What happened on that stage during Bad was nothing short of a miracle... and I realized it then being only 14 that I may never witness something like that ever again. (and I haven't) Now, I'm not one to put Bono or any of the band members on a pedestal, let alone a saintly pedestal, but there was something about that performance that made me feel the presence of a higher source. There was something almost mystical about it, yet comforting. The other band members gave their all, but the performance was mostly about Bono who took the cues from his 3 muses. It was as though Bono was possessed by something not of this earth. Sure I had seen U2 perform their magic onstage before and since Live Aid. I tuned in to watch the Amnesty International concerts as well. But nothing compares to what happened on stage during Live Aid. I haven't seen the performance since then even though my best friend taped it for me. It's not that I don't think the magic would be lost, or that the performance would seem different through a pair of older eyes - it could be that I want to keep the freshness of what happened on my television screen, the magic that I felt when I was that young girl, alive in just my memory (and the diary entry I scrawled later that night) Untainted and unhindered by hindsight.

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Old 02-20-2002, 05:29 PM   #4
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Thank you. That was eloquent.
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Old 02-21-2002, 05:18 AM   #5
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That was perfect Deb. And also your writing adams_mistress, congrats you both. Im a Live Aid child, I really am, thats when and why everything started to me. Never get tired to watch and listen to that performance...and to read about it.

Deb, you gave me an idea. Im sending you an email later, now gotta go to work.

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Old 02-21-2002, 11:51 PM   #6
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that was WONDERFUL. Thanks... the real reason I'm such an archives freak is because I love to read people who have been as moved as I've been by music (especially jaded critic-types). Just hearing how someone was there for it, and was moved, is as good as having been there myself, truly. Thanks.
follower -- tip o' the hat, Ma'am. Thankee.

Deb D
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Old 02-22-2002, 03:30 PM   #7
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If anyone has the BBC broadcast (whole show) on DVD or CDR I have a few U2 boots to trade.


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Old 02-23-2002, 01:10 AM   #8
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Deb and Adam's Mistress..Thank You. I was too young to know much about live aid, thank you for capturing atleast some of its magic and essence in words. Beautiful.
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Old 02-23-2002, 01:24 AM   #9
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I think the mystic U2 had then, was attributed to the fact that they were something special, and they hadn't even reached the height of their career yet.

Watching U2 then was probably like watching the Beatles perform in little clubs in Liverpool before they recorded an album and came to America.

They were something big just waiting to happen.

The more of these I drink the more Bono makes sense.. - Bean from the KROQ Breakfast with U2.

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