Much as I applaud the ideals of Live Earth, I think I have been afflicted by GMEF (That’s Global Music Event Fatigue). The frequency that we have huge telethons and transatlantic concerts means that we also need TV presenters to remind us just how historic this concert will be:
“Just how historic is this concert going to be, Jack Osbourne?”
“Its going to be very historic, Jonathan…”
The eagerness to define and document this kind of history, as it happens, is a particular symptom of the 24 hour news culture world in which we live. As we watch these programmes, we (and their producers) seem ignorant of the fact that they will not persist in our collective memory like the original Live Aid concert in 1985. Why? The clue is in the word “original” – Live Aid was the first event of its kind.
These other concerts are mere fakes, fabrications, exercises in nostalgia. They may be bigger, and they may even have better music. But the lack of novelty in the idea renders them free from the radicalism and urgency which characterised Live Aid. The result is a cruel pastiche, and each global music event yields diminishing returns for longevity, historical impact, and probably money too. And with so many other channels to watch, they are also ineffective as a shared cultural moment. This last point is crucial when there is a wider political message to be communicated. If people do not feel an ownership for the event, then the message is less likely to be discussed.
And to see acts like Duran Duran and Kanye West playing on two consecutive weekends surely devalues both events. There is little incentive to tune in for the event of the year/decade/century/your life, if you’ve seen the same event the week before.
Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran sings at Wembley Stadium for Live Earth. or was it Live Aid? Or the Concert For Diana?