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Published: 2005/07/11
by Tim Donnelly

Live 8, Philadelphia, PA- 7/2

Philadelphia- July 2, 2005- Live 8 wasn't "live great" in Philadelphia, even for live music lovers of any genre. It's sad to say but thank god the cause: "To make Poverty History," was heard. If it weren't for the tear inducing short films featuring concert organizer Bob Geldolf and Nelson Mandela, it would have been the largest block party in Philly history.

This is what it felt like: "We are going to do this great event. Considering no one really plays on July Fourth, let’s see how many acts we can get. But we can only fit them all into six hours."

Then after many phone calls it became: "Nobody wants to go to Philly, especially on the Fourth of July. Let’s ask Def Leppard because they are playing in Jersey the next day. Why don’t have the Black Eyed Peas because they are in Atlantic City that night, and umm, isn’t Dave Matthews from South Africa? We can make him a spokesman."

When it came to show time the thought had to be: "Let’s have Destiny’s Child have more time than Alicia Keys, because Beyonce is a star. Let’s make the Republicans happy and give Toby Keith three songs. We’ll have Rob Thomas and the skinny kid from Maroon 5 play with Stevie Wonder, because the kids won’t know who Stevie Wonder is. Ok, let’s put on a show!!"

The U.S. got the short end of the stick, with better line ups and music taking place in London, Berlin and Barrie, Ontario. Barrie got Neil Young. Berlin got Green Day. London gets Pink Floyd. Philly got Jars of Clay and Josh Groban. London gets U2. Barrie gets the Tragically Hip. Berlin gets Audioslave and Roxy Music. Philly got the Black Eyed Peas and Def Leppard.

Granted, most of these mentioned bands are on tour in those regions, but not being able to coax someone like Jack Johnson, Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ozzy or Bruce Springsteen to show up in Philly for the cause was head scratching.

The highlights in Philly were few and far between, but the Dave Matthews Band left the one lasting impression. DMB was the first band to perform with passion on the Philly stage two or so hours after the show began. It was worth the wait.

Matthews came out on fire, when he has that look in eyes, you know the one I am speaking of, watch out. It was the most passionate, heartfelt and vicious version of "Don’t Drink the Water" I have ever heard. His delivery was so moving it was the only goose bump inducing musical moment of the afternoon. The maniacal ending of the song was blistering, hotter than the scorching overhead sun.

The haunting South African inspired harmonies of "Dream Girl" and the lyrics "I could steal the wind from the sails of the greedy men who ruled the world" meant more of this afternoon than any other time the song has been done live. "American Baby" also had deeper meaning thanks to Stefan Lessard’s deeper than the Delaware River mud bass tag.

The extremely diverse crowd of hip-hop fans, rockers and Dockers wearing corporate types were strongly unified by the set that ended with a song that today whose song of personal greed that served as a truism. "Too Much" had the hip-hoppers swaying with the hands over their head like they just didn’t care, the rockers bopping and banging their heads and the dressed down suits trying to two-step. Even the egregious Philly cops dug it.

At the end of the six hour stifling day that was made a whole lot better by Jay-Z, the message is what truly mattered. Geldolf and Bono did what they set out, they wanted our voices, not our money, and by the looks of things globally that’s what they got, except in the Philly, where the people had the power.

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