10 Live Aid acts we'll never forget
To celebrate Live Aid's 30th anniversary on 13th July, we've taken a look back at 10 of the most memorable performances.
13th July, 1985: for those who watched Live Aid that day 30 years ago, it remains etched in the mind as one of the greatest music concerts ever held. Organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, the double header gig, which featured the world's biggest names on both sides of the Atlantic, was seen by nearly two billion people worldwide—so to celebrate its 30th anniversary, let's take a look back at 10 of the most memorable performances.
10. Madonna (JFK Stadium)
Over at Live Aid's sister concert in Philadelphia, the self-proclaimed Queen of Pop had just taken to the stage days after a Playboy magazine featured her nude photos. Reassuring the 100,000 strong crowd that she'd be keeping her clothes on that day, Madonna launched into a 16 minute set featuring her smash hits Holiday and Into The Groove before a foot-tapping, hand-clapping rendition of Love Makes The World Go Round.
9. Eric Clapton (JFK Stadium)
Is there a more hard-hitting, electric riff-infused ode to unfulfilled love than Layla? The song brought Eric Clapton to his knees and cajoled the JFK Stadium into a cacophony as the sensation from Surrey rocked out a 17 minute set which also featured the tracks White Room and She's Waiting. He was also supported by a drummer called Phil Collins—but more on him later!
8. Band Aid (Wembley)
The song that started it all. Do They Know It's Christmas was released in the December prior to Live Aid as a wake up call to the world about the famine in Ethiopia and served as the swansong to the London concert as the star line-up, including Geldof, Mercury and Bowie, joined together as one to belt out the ballad.
7. The Who (Wembley)
Technical difficulties meant The Who's 'rough but right' performance was never fully shown in the USA—meaning our pals over the water missed out on My Generation and a blistering performance of Won't Get Fooled Again. The band, who had broken up prior to Live Aid, would not be seen performing together again for another three years.
6. Elton John (Wembley)
The glammest of glam rockers was performing in his prime and the ivory keys of his trusty piano played out passionate versions of Rocket Man and Don't Go Breaking My Heart and you'd have been hard pressed to find any audience member not joining in when he sang Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, aided by Wham front man George Michael.
5. Status Quo (Wembley)
The Quo had possibly the hardest job of any band at Wembley—opening the concert. The pressure was on for them to start big and get the crowd going, a job they more than lived up to thanks to a medley of some of their greatest hits including the iconic Rockin' All Over The World and fan favourite Caroline.
4. Paul McCartney (Wembley)
No true concert of the ages could be held without a Beatle being there. But for the Liverpool born legend, his time on stage was very nearly remembered for all the wrong reasons. During Let It Be, McCartney's piano mic failed and those at the stadium struggled to hear him and the soulful, emotion-packed anthem. But thankfully, due to quick thinking, organiser Bob Geldof, Alison Moyet, and the entire 75,000 audience sang along, creating a harmony that was loud enough to be picked up by surrounding microphones.
3. David Bowie (Wembley)
David Bowie earned one of the biggest crowd responses of the entire gig with a heart wrenching, powerful performance of Heroes—an anthem for the millions of people who donated and gave their time to making Live Aid a resounding success. He personally dedicated the song to his son and, rather broadly, “all the children of the world.” Just watching a video of Bowie's performance is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
2. Phil Collins (Wembley & JFK)
Why does the master of drums deserve second spot? Well the Genesis frontman is the only Live Aid performer who can say he appeared at both gigs, which added a sweet irony to his performance of Against All Odds and In The Air Tonight. To make both gigs, Collins was flown straight from London to Heathrow in a helicopter piloted by none other than Noel Edmonds, before catching a Concorde to Philadelphia. His thunderous drumming and swinging vocals made him a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and saw him enter the record books.
1. Queen (Wembley)
In nearly every poll of journalists and music fans, Queen's Live Aid performance goes down as one of history's greatest ever acts. A wily sound artist turned up the limiters to make the band louder than any other performer and it showed. Flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury led the crowd through a thunderous medley of Queen's greatest hits and one of the most passionate renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody ever heard live. Mercury and Queen guitarist Brian May later returned on stage a second time for a spine chilling performance of Is This The World We Created?
Live Aid celebrates turning 30 on 13th July and to this date has raised over £150 million for famine relief across the globe. Now that's the power of music.
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