Now Playing: Pin-Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Sometimes I miss the 1980's. It was a simpler time; everything was black and white. Thatcher was a cunt, South Africa was evil, the bomb was set to drop at any minute and Live Aid was shite; a disgusting spectacle that fled controversy and completely failed to address the politics of the situation in Ethiopia.
But here we are in a new mediocre century, Africa is still fucked and Sir Bob is at it again with son of Live Aid- Live8. This time I am somewhat ambivalent. I cheered as cheeky old Bob caused panic at Edinburgh City Council by inviting a million protesters overwhelm the capital. I often amuse myself by imagining that Bob and Bono secretly hate each other. Let's face it Bob would kill for Bono's record sales and Bono would die for Bob's saintly status. You know I'm right. I'm even quietly impressed by the work Geldof has done to bring the issue of debt relief to the attention of the media and in turn the public. But something just doesn't feel right.
It's not that I doubt the sincerity of most of the participants because surprisingly I don't. It is inevitable that the whole thing will be an artistic catastrophe, that doesn't bother me, as I will do my best to avoid it. Yet I still have my misgivings.
I am disturbed by the total absence of any African musicians on the bill. I'm afraid that Geldof's excuse that he picked the line up on the basis of record sales to ensure high viewing figures doesn't stack up. If your aim is to get high viewing figures what is the point of having U2 and Coldplay on the bill? I strongly suspect that U2 and Coldplay have a fair few fans in common and that dropping one of them from the bill in favour of an African artist would not adversely affect viewing figures at all. It's all the more alarming when you consider that we are to be treated to Madonna and Sting dueting on John Lennon's Imagine. Who the fuck wants to watch that? Even taking into account the appalling taste of the general public, that cannot be anything other than a switch off moment. Even in my blackest depression I never thought that I would one day witness anything worse than John Lennon singing Imagine but there we are- another first for the 'Queen of Pop'.
I should also point out that my knowledge of African music is limited to those bits on the news where a red faced member of the British monarchy stands watching a group of topless African ladies singing and dancing. So I'm not writing as an aggrieved fan of African music. However Live8 with no African involvement smacks of rich white westerners patronising the poor black folks. Furthermore the notion that Madonna and Sting singing Imagine would attract more viewers than anything the entire continent of Africa could come up with is, I would have thought, grossly offensive. And for people supposedly committed to improving the economic lot of Africans, missing the opportunity to give a few African musicians worldwide exposure with the inevitable boost in sales and interest that entails smacks of idiocy.
I'm also very suspicious of the way the government are acting over this. They seem pleased about it, which makes me doubt it's effectiveness. My best guess is that they have worked out some policy that appears radical but costs nothing and are banking on the fact that no-one will guess what they're up to.
I was thinking of going to Edinburgh but now I'm not so sure. I never thought it would lead to an immediate rethink of international policy but it doesn't seem to be upsetting the establishment much and will I suspect be portrayed in the press as a load of music fans on a harmless day out and consequently achieve nothing. It's a bit like those fucking wristbands which are, hilariously, produced by children in sweatshops. They achieve nothing but make people feel like they're helping.
As you have no doubt guessed I haven't quite nailed this one yet and may return to this on a later post when I have.