1. Even though we had to dive into the murky, unreliable world of the Red Button to view the multi-screen option, and even though we had to endure French icon Johnny Hallyday’s interminable sound-check, it was all worth it to enjoy the Cure’s brilliant show closer in Paris. Eschewing the craven crowd-pleasers favoured by their pallid peers, Robert Smith’s band played morbid, incongruent, obscure, but utterly wondrous, album tracks – Open (“And the way the rain comes down hard, that’s how I feel inside); 100 Years (“It doesn’t matter if we all die”/ “Sharing the world with slaughtered pigs”); and End.
2. Jonathan Ross. We’ll forgive him the lime green suit (“the colour of baby diarrhoea” according to Ricky Gervais), because his superb linking kept us sane even during the worst early-evening dross like a reassuring BBC Radio broadcast to civilians huddled in bomb shelters during the Blitz. He suggested Travis “should let a lion loose on the crowd” to trump U2’s doves; on Dido, “sounded lovely, but it went on a bit”; on Bill Gates, “all that money and he still can’t buy a decent haircut; and to the Stereophonics, “you’re quite well-known. But, let’s face it – you’re B-list.”
3. Madonna/Madonna’s dancers (so 1980s).
4. Pink Floyd (tear jerking). (The finalé by Macca and the allstars was a huge anticlimax after that)
5. Ricky Gervais. His acerbic fake newsflash that Bush and Blair “agreed to not double but QUADRUPLE aid” so the audience “could all go home”; mocking the foreign such as a female singer at Berlin, “the only one I know is Nena. But if it is, she’s had a little shave under the arms”, before remarking, “It’s not going out is it? This drivel we’re saying”; and his link while REM’s crew did a soundcheck in which he did his Office dance.
6. REM. They began promisingly with Imitation of Life, before slipping back into the kind of mediocrity which blighted many performances with Everybody Hurts and Man on the Moon. All around the country, men who “haven’t cried since they were children” rushed to their wives and held them tight, while their wives writhed uncomfortably in their chill grip.
7. The old woman handing out tissues as the “artists” came off stage.
8. Pete Doherty’s rambling vocals (and smudged blue eye make-up) on Children of the Revolution was a welcome antithesis to the plastic perfection of the majority of acts. And he got a kiss off duet partner Elton John for his troubles.
9. The Coldplay drummer’s Kraftwerk Radioactivity T-shirt.
10. Razorlight, especially Johnny Borrell’s bare-chested, Jaggeresque antics and his statement: “All you need is love. John Lennon said that. Music can change the world. Bono said that. Sign the f**king petition. I said that.”
11. Begrudgingly, we have to admit that Robbie Williams had the audience in his thrall. Scissor Sisters were also entertaining. And even Sting’s Message In A Bottle was enjoyable.
12. The Who
13. Peter Kay rescuing his appearance by getting the crowd to sing Amarillo
1. The lethally bland concoction of bands who almost killed us with their tepid pseudo-reverential odes to world poverty expressed through their atrociously conformist music. We were so numbed by the event that we could have held the final of Strictly Come Dancing on our eyeballs, undergone open heart surgery conducted by Count Dracula, held our hand to test the temperature in Beelzebub’s most ferocious furnace, our dead lips could have provided a stable environment for the French government to test their latest nuclear weapons, while unscrupulous burglars could have smashed open redoubtable safes on our knees without us ever once flinching in a single pang of pain.
2. Velvet Revolver. All around the country, ex-school bullies were allowed out of jail to hunt down their former victims and kick their heads in to the rhythms of this scabrous metal band.
3. Coldplay. We were impressed by their Glastonbury show, but their choice of songs (In My Place and Fix You) were sublimely soporific, while the duet with Richard Ashcroft merely exhibited how badly Bittersweet Symphony has dated, in common with the Verve’s music as a whole. All around the country, impromptu dinner parties were set up and champagne poured and quaffed before the last bars of Fix You melted into the July sky.
4. Bill Gates. Even if our ire towards the Microsoft chief hadn’t been inflamed by having to reinstall Windows four times this weekend, his appearance was one of the most vulgar. While we don’t doubt he has donated heavily to charity, he is only in possession of such wealth (much of which he doesn’t give away) because of the corrupt system of capitalism that empowers the already strong and jettisons the weak.
And some people like him often give away their cash not as an act of altruism, but to “buy” credibility and popularity. What’s more, with Microsoft’s record on corporate monopolies, was there an uglier figurehead of Make Trade Fair?
5. The utter tedium of Dido (twice even when drowned out by Youssou N’Dour), Keane, Stereophonics. All around the country corpulent office workers raced down the gym to “work out” to the vibrant tunes emanating from Hyde Park, whilst others leapt into their cars like the Dukes of Hazzard to scream along country roads to the tune of
Stereophonics’ Dakota and feeling “really alive”.
6. The audience, most of whom were too far away (tucked behind the vast VIP pen) and all too sober because of the Hyde Park booze ban.
7. Joss Stone, a semi-retired lawyer in the body of an 18-year-old. All around the country, coffee bars were assailed by middle-aged punters who tossed filofaxes and mobile phones through the window to ensure they listened to Joss from the comfort of their favourite armchair while waitresses were whipped until they served the finest cups of coffee known to humanity. Miss Dynamite wasn’t much better,
8. Too many of the songs were over-familiar through being drenched by MTV and as a consequence even live performances couldn’t instil in them more than a
flicker of vitality. All around the country, men in their early-20s tore off their suits and donned American basketball vests before dancing with their knees thrusting up to their chests liberally infesting the songs with their improvised profanities.
9. Green Day. All around the country, pocket calculators and free mobile phones were used to smash windows of boarding school dormitories in a momentary pupil rebellion before they resumed their applications to study at Oxbridge.
10. REM’s set being interrupted so that Fearne Cotton could ask Razorlight if they were nervous – a question she repeated endlessly all day. Her second favourite was: “Who are you most looking forward too?” The best response from that came from a bloke in the crowd: “U2.” Which would have made sense had the Irish band not played about half-an-hour beforehand.
11. The token trombonists dressed up like the Beatles for Paul McCartney and U2’s Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
12. The incessant proclamations of how Live8 was the biggest concert in history actually had a detrimental effect as we expected to be moved by the enormity of the event much more than we were.
13. Annie Lennox. All around the country, car CD players violently ejected the Brand New Heavies and the Corrs and refused to work until they were reunited with their favourite Eurthymics album.
14. Snoop Dogg’s bad language, which seemed to open the door for all sorts of mucky language. Our letter to the Radio Times is already being composed.
15. Single-plugging, mic stand-demanding, kiddie-surrounded Mariah Carey.
16. Jeremy Clarkson
17. Jo Whiley, especially when she was forced to squirm after telling Madonna she’d done rather well from live Aid. Madonna should have thumped her. Instead she remained quite sweet and revealed: “Backstage, I got to meet my most favourite comedian in the world, Ricky Gervais. I worship him and I told him I would sweep his floor for him. He said, ‘Who are you?”