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BAND AID

Nowadays, pop stars getting together to save the world is a considered passe. Simply hearing one utter the words "rainforest" is enough to have him forever labelled "out of touch old git". However, back in 1984, it was virtually unheard of for our idols to all get together en masse, and sing a song for charity about how awful the world is. Band Aid was the brainchild of unwashed Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof, and former, stupidly-named, Ultravox frontman Midge Ure. Who didnít feel a certain sense of excitement and, yes, pride, when they read in The Sun that British pop music was going to save the starving millions of the world?

That said, when the song was released, who didnít feel an equally certain sense of disappointment? Do They Know Itís Christmas? Do they? Well? No, of course they didnít. Even if the average Ethiopian knew of the Christian festival celebrating the birth or our Lord Jesus Christ, would they care - hungry or not? Donít be ridiculous, Geldof: they have their own beliefs, and religions, man. Donít try and force ours upon them. The arrogance of the lyrics was astonishing. Whatís more, were they deliberately trying to ruin our Christmas dinner with their heavy-handed moralising?

Even so, watching that video back then, and seeing all those famous faces in one room together was something special. Watching it now, with hindsight, the opinion is more along the lines of "Look at that wanker" and "Who the hell is that one there with the highlights?".

The B-Side of the Band Aid single was an instrumental version, featuring overdubbed and improvised guilt trip proclamations by the ill-informed popsters. Someone from Big Country told us to "Feed the people. Stay alive," while Bono profoundly wished us all "A merry Christmas" (yet how he expected us to do that, given that by then weíd been informed of the existence of another world outside our window - a world of dread and fear - is anyoneís guess).

The following summer we were subjected to Live Aid, a truly awesome spectacle of fluffed lines, microphones breaking down, and Bob Geldof saying "Give us your fucking money" on live TV. In the afternoon. In 1985. Now that Bob is a high-powered, albeit still unwashed, if presumably very well-paid television executive, heís clearly adopted a strategy of "Let the heathens starve". The Live Aid event spanned two continents, with a bewildered US contingent picking up the reigns as the Wembley Stadium concert coughed to a finish. A globe-spanning rendition of the mawkish We Are The World, and an improvised Do They Know Itís Summertime? brought the whole affair to an end. Sort of.

In the subsequent years, attempts would be made to resurrect fading careers with similar charity discs and gigs, pouring money into funds for ferry disasters, other starving countries, and Nelson Mandela. The cherry on this appalling cake was Band Aid 2 - the most dreadful Stock, Aitken And Waterman reworking imaginable. By 1989 the real popstars were all dead, stoned, propping up flagging careers, or simply too busy to join Bros, Sonia and Big Fun on the ill-conceived, and disrespectful, disco remix. Also, why hasnít Live Aid ever been released on video? Think of the money itíd make. Think of the grain that money would buy. Think of the... ah, sod Ďem. Incidentally, if anyone has any figures on the number of hot dogs and trays of chips sold during Live Aid, weíd love to know...

 

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1. Live Aid was the longest pop concert ever held, probably. How long did it last in total?

2. Which act kicked off the UK portion of Live Aid?

3. Which song did they play?

4. How much was raised worldwide by the Band Aid single?

5. Who was the first performer from the USA?

  

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