Ok, I have been watching Live Earth coverage almost non stop now for about 14 hours. The performances aired on Sundance were generally one to two songs per artist. I was very impressed by the sound quality. Most of the sets sounded perfectly mixed and off a concert DVD. That is no small accomplishment. Musically, though, most have fallen flat. The bands seem to be too stressed to let loose and have fun. Everyone seems to be trying to make a great impact with their song and instead fall flat. Some examples of totally mediocre performances were Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye, Black Eyed Peas, Macy Grey, the Police, and just about every other British pop star which filled the day (I had no idea who they were).
It sadly reminded that most bands are not better live. As a live connesiour, and fan of the Dead, Allman Brother, and Pearl Jam... I am used to expecting bands to be better live.
So, who was the best surprise? We'll get to that in a second. First, let's talk about the biggest let down. That would be the Police, who were ostensibly the headliners. I didn't get to see the Police this year live, because I opted to make a house payment instead. So, I waited until midnight for the Police's set. Boring. Worse, in order to re-remind everyone what a jazz savy guy Sting is... each song was drawn out an extra three minutes with a pointless outro jam.
Sets I missed that I hope the DVR caught (Sundance broadcast 22 hours of it, and I recorded the whole beast); Genesis, Metallica, and Spinal Tap.
I can't complain, though. I have gotten a full day of free live music from everyone in the world. So, did anyone not suck? Yes, one artist tore the motherfuckin' place apart > Foo Fighters. Tonight, Dave Grohl proved to me he is America's most valuable rock star. His performance really made me feel like he was in my living room. Dude even looks like a rock star. This will get compacted down to a nice 2 or 3 DVD set for Christmas. However, all I really want is the full Foo set. They broadcast three or four songs from them, which was way higher than most other acts got.
Another thing I have to mention, and the high point for me. Every big big show like this has some big re-unions. Remember Led Zeppelin for Live Aid, Pink Floyd for Live 8... etc. The big unexpected surprise for me was Cat Stevens. CAT STEVENS, man! I am a huge fan, and of course no one has really seen him for about 30 years. You remember he completely disappeared from the earth in the early 70's. He freaked out, became a devout muslim, and changed his name. Anyhow, he did Peace Train and I was so excited I couldn't contain myself. It helped me cope with Billy Corgan phoning in that suck ass live performance. As the world's number 1 Pumpkins fan, that was some weak shit.
In closing, thanks Al Gore for taking the initiative here. It is much appreciated. Also, big thanks to Robert Redford, who ran the whole event essentially commercial free.
* postscript > am going through the three hours I missed today away. Genesis sucked, and I felt it was largely 'phoned in'. Bummer, I expected more. I also caught one track from Garth Brooks that was really cool. They were on this teenie tiny stage erected the night before in DC. The show was thrown together in haste because the Fed only granted the DC permit the day before the show. Anyhow, you could tell by the production and sound of the DC site. Still, Garth Brooks gave a really impressive performance.
Their resources were so few, that Garth was sharing the mike with three ladies... whose harmony was amazing. Another closing note, someone please make James Blount die. Jesus, that shit is so boring it makes David Gray look like caffeine! btw, David Gray was great, though not sure why he needs four dudes playing acoustic guitar.