Live 8 Philadelphia moment-by-moment report

05.05.2008
Here's a moment-by-moment look at the acts and the action on the Live 8 stage yesterday in Philadelphia:

11:42 a.m.: The Kaiser Chiefs take the stage, opening with "I Predict a Riot." Thirty yards away, the several dozen police officers standing behind the VIP seating area surely hope the title has no relevance to the swarms of people who, by 10 a.m., had filled the Ben Franklin Parkway from the stage to City Hall.

A flushed Ricky Wilson, wearing jeans, a button-down shirt, tie and sports coat, goes on to sing two more songs, including "SOS" and "Every Day I Love You Less and Less."

11:55: Images of the crowds at Live 8 concerts in Tokyo, Berlin, Rome and London flash on giant screens. At Hyde Park in London, Paul McCartney and U2 play "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." In Philadelphia, the broadcast is marred by at least one underlying feed - Craig David's acoustic cover of The Beatles' "Come Together," beamed to the screens from Paris - and a phantom bassline, perhaps from a backstage soundcheck. The images and audio from McCartney and U2's performance are cut short.

12:01 p.m.: Will Smith takes the stage wearing a red 46664 T-shirt (Nelson Mandela's prison number, which he's lent to the fight against AIDS), and calls Live 8 the "biggest event in the history of our planet," then spends three simulcasted minutes asking each city to greet the next.

Smith gets to the core of the concerts: "More than 200 years ago, just down the block, they signed the Declaration of Independence. Today, we gather here to make our declaration of interdependence."

A brief black-and-white video shows a variety of celebrities snapping. Smith then tells the crowd a child in poverty dies every three seconds. "Just like that," he says with a snap, "someone else is dead."

12:08 p.m.: The Black Eyed Peas open with "Where Is the Love?" Will.i.am closes the song with a request for the masses - put one finger in the air, concertspeak for "one love."

After a broadcast of Coldplay, then Madonna, from London, Dhani Jones and four other Eagles introduce "Let's Get It Started," another hit from the Elephunk album. Will.i.am offers a thought about Africa: "After this night, go online and teach yourself about what's going on in the world. Learn about malaria."

The Peas close with a single from their recently released Monkey Business called "Don't Phunk With My Heart."

12:23: Rita and Stephen Marley join the Peas for a rousing rendition of Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up."

12:30: Two video performances - Brian Wilson in Berlin and Snow Patrol from America Online's studios - are met with indifference. A music video featuring Nick Lachey doesn't help matters.

12:40: Actor Don Cheadle introduces "a band from perhaps the most exotic of locales." Bon Jovi, proudly of New Jersey, plays "Livin' On a Prayer." Girls and women start dancing as Jon Bon Jovi, wearing form-fitting tan pants and a brown long-sleeve shirt, seduces the microphone. The band also performs "Have a Nice Day," and "It's My Life."

12:59: Destiny's Child slinks onto the stage in skimpy white outfits. They open with "Survivor." Many of the same girls who screamed for Bon Jovi lend the three performers similar support. This time, the guys in the crowd join them.

"We sang this song so many times together," Beyonce Knowles says, "but today it has a whole new meaning." She may be referring to the thousands of names of Live 8 audience members that were sent by text messages prior to the show and now flashing on the screens around her - Destiny's Child plays one of their oldies, "Say My Name," then a song from their most recent album.

1:16: With an 11-piece, masked female string orchestra behind him, Kanye West shouts the lyrics to "Diamonds Are Forever (Sierra Leone)." Afterward, he says: "For anyone that doesn't understand why we're here" (he pauses to say, "I love you, too," to a girl in the audience - "we're here for our people. We're here for human beings. We're here for the thousands of people who're dying every day."

West makes a strong argument for politicians "driving their Bentleys" to release the debts of poor African nations, then moves into "Alls Falls Down." He closes with "Jesus Walk With Me."

1:31: Actor Jimmy Smits tells concertgoers 6,300 African children die of AIDS every day, then introduces a brief video that lays an audio track of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s voice over a photo montage with black-and-white images of the world leaders who will meet at the G8 summit.

1:37: To the tune of the theme for Rocky, Will Smith is carried onstage by six men hoisting a throne. DJ Jazzy Jeff, who harkens back to Smith's days as the Fresh Prince, spins a looping sound byte: "The champ is here."

"Philly," Smith growls to a rapt audience. "I am home."

He opens with "Getting' Jiggy Wit It," and follows with his newest single, "Switch," a bass-heavy tune that gets the crowd moving in spite of the heat.

Smith then tests his audience's memory, rapping, "Now this is a story," then waits for the crowd to finish the verse from his theme song for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, the popular sitcom that catapulted his acting career.

"Summertime," perhaps the most applicable song to this point, gets hundreds of thousands on the Parkway rapping along.

2:15: After a broadcast of Coldplay and then Madonna on stage in London, Dhani Jones and four other players from the Eagles introduce Toby Keith. He plays a three-song set, including "Whiskey Girl" and "Beer for My Horses."

2:31: Actress Natalie Portman, her head shaven, introduces the Dave Matthews Band before band members are at their positions. After three minutes of dead air, the band's entrance is met with wails of approval from the crowd. They open with "Don't Drink the Water."

"Somebody told me there was more than a million people came today," Matthews says between songs, shining with sweat while softly strumming nothing in particular. "That says something."

And into "Dreamgirl" they go, followed by "American Baby" and "Too Much."

At 3:03, Matthews bids adieu: "Y'all have a good day."

3:04: Nelson Mandela appears on video, imploring G8 leaders, "Do not look the other way. Do not hesitate."

3:11: After about five minutes of commercials - you didn't think the absence of tickets meant it really would be a free concert, did you? - Portman introduces Alicia Keys. Before sitting at the piano to play "For All We Know," Keys invokes the name of Luther Vandross, who died Friday at 54, to persuade people to act now rather than waiting for another day.

Her performance is lovely, but brief - after the song, she says, "Thank you for having me," and walks offstage.

3:18: Black Ice, born in Philadelphia as Lamar Manson and the first spoken-word artist signed by Def Jam, recites his poem "Imagine," which juxtaposes the resources (educational, emotional and otherwise) of the rich with those of the poor.

3:20: The giant screens broadcast Tim McGraw's performance from Rome.

3:25: Actress Jennifer Connolly introduces Linkin Park. Philadelphia's first taste of rap-rock for the day begins with "Crawlin," then "Somewhere I Belong."

Before going into "Breaking the Habit," lead singer Chester Bennington says, "What an exceptionally beautiful crowd." The band's choice of "In the End" might not have been wise, considering the lyrics; although not at all related to the concert's cause, the chorus includes, "I tried so hard and got so far/and in the end, it doesn't even matter."

3:43: Jay-Z joins Linkin Park onstage and jumps into their collective hit, "Dirt Off Your Shoulders." A lyrically mild version of "Big Pimpin' " follows, and the crowd shows fewer signs of heat exhaustion, if only for a moment.

3:55: After thanking the crowd for chanting a request for "H.O.V.A.," Jay-Z acknowledges that, yes, "We havin' a good time out here, we rockin', we spittin'," then reminds the audience about the day's focus. They play a medley of Jay-Z's "Encore" and Linkin Park's "Numb."

4:06: Def Leppard opens with "Rock of Ages" and "No Matter What."

"I'm just getting the message," Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott says. "It's official, from the mayor of Philadelphia, that there are over 1 million people out there." The crowd likes the number, along with the next one - the 1980s favorite "Pour Some Sugar On Me."

4:21: As the stage rotates to bring the next act within view, the screens broadcast the London performance of "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," by Elton John, who will be in Philadelphia for Monday's "Welcome America" concert.

4:26: An unidentified voice off-camera and offstage says, "There have been some children that've been, uh, turned in." He directs concerned parents to a precinct of the Philadelphia Police Department.

4:28: Kami, the HIV-positive Muppet, introduces herself with humor. She says she met performers backstage, including Def Leppard, "who did not appear to be an actual jungle cat, and who seemed to hear quite well." After a brief statement about how a lack of funds can keep patients from the drugs that could ease their struggle, she introduces the Christian rock band Jars of Clay.

4:41: Sarah McLachlan sits at the piano for a three-song set. Her second, "World On Fire," includes the lyrics, "The more we take, the less we become/A fortune of one that means less for some." Her third song, "Angel," features Josh Groban in a duet.

5:02: Maroon 5 takes the stage and plays three songs: "Harder to Breathe," "This Love" and "She Will Be Love."

5:18: Neil Young appears on the screens from the Canadian leg of Live 8, performing "Keep On Rockin' in the Free World."

5:23: Greenday hits the screens with "American Idiot" from Germany.

5:30: Keith Urban begins his four-song set, which includes a cover of Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise." He's wearing jeans and a white T-shirt with the word "poverty" encircled and slashed with red. His performance is spirited and his hair swings, heavy with sweat.

5:48: U2 is on the screens, a gift from London, and Bono enunciates each word of "One," an attempt, it seems, to renew the song with a connection to African poverty. He sings the chorus: "One life, but we're not the same/We've got to carry each other, carry each other/One."

5:53: Jimmy Smits returns to introduce Rob Thomas, who recently launched his solo career off the success of Matchbox Twenty. After his second song, "Lonely No More," he addresses the crowd. "What we're doing by being here," he says, "is we're saying that there are a lot of people here in America who think globally. - We lose two 9/11s a day to AIDS."

He pauses. "This next song has nothing to do with that."

He dives into "3 A.M.," a favorite of Matchbox Twenty fans. Toward the end, he tosses in a few verses from The Steve Miller Band's "The Joker," and closes with "This Is How a Heart Breaks."

6:15: A concert organizer asks the crowd for a few moments of patience, then asks who they're waiting to see. "Stevie!" come the cries. In the meantime, REM's London performance of "Everybody Hurts" keeps the eager crowd's attention. Michael Stipe delivers a stirring rendition of the band's classic, and the mask of blue paint on the top half of his face isn't enough to distract from the song's sentiment.

6:22: A dapper Richard Gere reminds his audience - and it was his audience, as evidenced by those in the VIP section who stood upon the sight of him - that he was born in Philadelphia. He tells them more people are watching the streaming broadcasts of Live 8 than "any event in the history of the world." He introduces Stevie Wonder. The lucky few with seats remain standing.

Wonder is clearly bloated beneath an ornate white gown and matching pants, but his performance seems to be worth the crowd's wait. He plays "Master Blaster (Jammin')," "Higher Ground" and "A Time 2 Love."

He then plays "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" with Adam Levine, the lead singer of Maroon 5, providing backup vocals and some slaps of a tambourine. Then comes "So What the Fuss?" and the concert's finale, "Superstition."

6:50: Concertgoers making their way out of the area watch a broadcast of Paul McCartney playing "Get Back," with audio and video intact.

Christopher Yasiejko - July 2, 2005


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