Sunday, July 08, 2007

Live(?) Earth

I saw a fairly substantial portion of the Live Earth concerts yesterday, wrapped around an afternoon of scuba diving (first dive of the season and I can be charitable and say that I clearly wasn't prepared for it properly). Seven continents, nine cities hosting shows, and NBC giving over six different channels to the shows.

Ugh. And that's where the problem lay. NBC has access to a whole lot more channels than they broadcast on yesterday. The shows were carried on NBC, Universal HD, Bravo, Universal (Latin America), and CNBC (which simulcast the Universal HD show). They had access to five or six other channels: SciFi, Telemundo, MUN2, USA, and Sleuth.

Here's the problem: Why is it that, at several points last night, not one live act was shown??? There were tape delays, endless repeats of Madonna (MADONNA???) in England from three hours earlier, and god help me, Joss Stone was shown on all four broadcasts simultaneously, even tho she had performed in the afternoon (and she sucks).

OK, in fairness to Madonna, she did write the theme song to the entire show, "Hey You".

Only two acts from the Rio de Janiero show were broadcast: Lenny Kravitz, and Xuxa, who opened the show and hosts a children's television show. One hundred and fifty acts, and we get Madonna on demand??? We saw nothing of the DC concert (that's possibly because Congressional Republicans try to ban Al Gore from having a concert, but a Native American group waived their permit in exchange for performance time...would have been nice of NBC to even fucking mention that when they had Gore on for an interview, if they couldn't get a fucking newscrew in to do a remote feed!), and only bits and pieces of the Johannesburg show (Joss Stone....arggh!).

And finally, the most tasteless part of the night was Missy Elliot, who for some reason can't help but use her dresses to sell advertising. This one, at least, was to remind people that Darfur is a problem, but that, you know, sort of distracted from the point of a benefit concert.

And, naturally, there were snipes from the Rupert Murdoch papers regarding Madonna:
The News of the World tabloid, Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, detailed estimates of Madonna's carbon emissions from nine houses, a fleet of cars, a private jet and the Confessions tour, calling her a "climate-change catastrophe".

The Sunday Telegraph quoted U.S. reports of her alleged financial links to companies accused of being major polluters.

Her spokeswoman in Britain was not immediately available for comment, but in a statement appearing in the Independent on Sunday, her New York spokeswoman said:

"Madonna's agreeing to sing at the Live Earth Event is merely one of the first steps in her commitment towards being environmentally responsible."


That said, there were some high points:

1) Far and away, the best performance of the day, held in front of a raving, moshing crowd, was from Antarctica. Five British scientists formed a band called Nunatak, and gave an amazing performance, made more so by the fact they played the Antarctic winter! The penguins *really!* went wild.

2) Bravo was good enough to broadcast the entire set of each act from the New York show in its entirety, on tape delay.

3) Alicia Keys did an astounding cover of "Gimme Shelter" with Mr. Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and then went on to do her own set. She was hands down the highlight of the New York concert, beating out the headline act, The Police, who were flat and needed appearance by John Mayer and Kanye West to generate any excitement from an exhausted and heat-drained crowd. And Kanya West probably should have realized that appearance was not his set, and stopped trying to dominate Sting.

4) Shakira was a revelation. She had been sold here as a upscale Christina Aguilera, but in truth, she's more Sheryl Crowe.

5) The stadium in Sydney lost partial power during the closing act (the always amazing Crowded House) who then went on to include the audience in the entire closing number, even inviting them to dance on stage.

6) Some of the short films that were dispersed in the broadcast in lieu of commercials (which were limited but for some reason all featured Billy Mays) were powerful, even tear-jerking, in particular the child-slaves of Brazil's charcoal industry and how that industry goes onto pollute the environment in myriad ways, right up to the processing of steel).

7) Two comedy bits about the last two polar bears on the planet, starring Rip Torn and Harry Shearer, could easily have been on Saturday Night Live, they were that good.

8) The best short, tho, was about the last penguin on earth.