I’m not going to go into the political or ethical implications of Live8 here and now (though the sozzled socialist Psittacidae are worth reading on the subject). I am going to talk about the artistic ones, because the event illustrated beautifully the central problem with the UK music industry. I don’t like Pink Floyd very much, but they are undeniably a great rock band. They’ve had more interesting things to say than most popular beat combos, said them in well-constructed songs, and performed the songs superbly, putting on live shows that are rather more entertaining than watching a bunch of drugged-up, faux-poor students in anoraks play derivative music ineptly on expensive, fashion-accessory guitars over weak vocals.
Overcoming a two-decade feud between their central talents, Pink Floyd re-formed for Live8. Like those of most bands on the London bill, their sales increased significantly after their appearance. According to HMV, purchases of their album went up 1300 percent. For most other participants the relative increase was smaller. Annie Lennox increased her sales 500 percent. Coldplay had a modest boost relative to their already high numbers. One outfit, however, experienced a fall in sales. Face-slappingly over-rated media darling Pete Doherty, former songwriter and “leader” of the Libertines, was given a thoroughly unearned guest vocal spot during fellow party animal and some-time drug casualty Elton John’s turn on stage before the peoples of the world. Despite Mr John and the sound engineers’ best efforts, he sounded like shit. The People agreed. Compared with the previous week’s sales of their albums somewhat fewer units of The Libertines’ works were shifted after this “performance” than before. To echo Stephen’s comment below: Music Of Quality And Distinction: 1 — Hyped-Up Indie Cack: 0.
Thank you and good night, England. You’ve been a great audience.