Saturday, July 02, 2005


Of course, the Whistle Test team who were behind the presentation for Live Aid joked that it was like getting the team from Radio Cleckheaton to do the job; with Live 8 that's actually happened as all the UK commercial radio stations have bandied together to be able to enable them to just about fail to rise to the occasion. Presentation is being handled by Richard Bacon, Ronan Keating and Ulrika Jonsson - which means Richard Bacon is doing his best to hold things together in the face of an almost pointless presence. Jonsson, before Dido arrived, launched a single-handed attack on people who claim that Dido is bland (giving us, for the first time, a polar opposite of the pot calling the kettle black) and later on took the opportunity to "personally thank the Hilton hotel chain"; she also giggling introduced herself as "Anthea Turner" which would only work as a joke if she had an instantly recognisable voice.

Most bemusing of all, though, the Commercial Radio network has taken the decision that, to avoid panicing its audience by having any dead air at all, between songs in individual sets it'll cut away to interviews with other bands. So, midway between Keane's two songs, we get Snow Patrol. (Snow Patrol, by the way, are nervous. Everyone seems to be nervous).

It's also through this coverage that we listen to Bill Gates' little speech. Bill Gates, telling us how to beat poverty. It's a little hard to take, to be honest: we know that Bill gives oodles to charity, but we still don't buy that he's the world's greatest philanthropist. He gives squillions, but from his hypersquillions, it's unlikely he even notices. And let's not forget how he makes that cash - by ruthlessly exploiting and shoring up a monopoly, charging through the nose for a closed operating system and enforcing proprietary formats on the world. Gates makes his money by forcing governments to spend money on Windows which could otherwise be spent on education; on health; on aid; on debt relief. Every computer Oxfam has that runs Windows; every Medicien Sans Frontieres PC; each Windows computer used by aid workers, third world education projects; each sends a supernormal profit back to Bill Gates. So he gives a little of that to charity to make himself feel better. If Gates wants to do something, he could release the Windows source code. That would make a massive difference - that would be doing something positive. Instead, he turns up at a party supposed to alter the very sort of restrictive trade rules he makes his money from. We'd wonder how he can sleep, but we bet he has a very, very cosy bed.

Elton John brings Pete Doherty on stage - Elton seems to be one of the few acts who seems to realise that if this thing is going to be a success, you'll need to excite and inspire teenagers as much as paunchy middle-aged guys.

As Philadelphia comes online, Will Smith starts them up with the kid-dies-every-three-seconds bit (he has trouble clicking his fingers, but the point is made nevertheless), but back in Britain, Travis are taking the stage. We wonder if they'll do an unlikely cover? Oh, yes, Staying Alive. Do you geddit? Fran Healy is wearing the most horrible trousers ever, although they match the colour of Bono's sunglasses, oddly enough.

And although Bob has said he wasn't going to perform, nobody's that surprised when he comes on and does I Don't Like Mondays - and, frankly, you can't begrudge him his moment. The "and the lesson today is how to die" bit is a straight reprise of Live Aid, although it doesn't crackle with meaning in quite the same way this time round - probably because it now carries the "oh, like last time" message as well.