Sunday, July 03, 2005

Remembrance of Live Aid 1985

Excerpt from my book As My Sparks Fly Upward & Other Stories

The first rock concert I ever attended was to see Bob Dylan. I was fifteen. Since then I’ve seen most of my favorites: U2, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughn, among others. However, the greatest rock and roll moment I ever witnessed occurred in the summer of 1985: watching Live Aid on TV.

I was fourteen, and had been playing guitar for a couple of years, steeping myself in rock and roll mythology: reading Jim Morrison’s biography, ’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, the biography of Jimi Hendrix, Neil and Me, by Neil’s father, Scott Young. I discovered the film and soundtrack to Woodstock, 1969, the previous year. However, Live Aid was the first musical Happening of my life. I waited with keen anticipation to see Led Zeppelin and The Who—both reuniting for the event—along with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Santana. Before any of them took the stage, U2 played.

I was home, strumming my guitar, paying little attention to U2’s performance until Bono launched into the chorus of their song “Bad”—his voice gathering like a storm, filling Wembley Stadium: ocean surf crashing upon shore. I marveled at the power, the plea in it.

Soon after, Bono dropped the microphone to the stage, and walked away.

As the band played, he jumped down to the platform where television cameras filmed the concert. He ran past a cameraman, and surveyed the massive audience.

I set my guitar aside, watching.

Bono waved his arms in a beckoning gesture, calling the crowd forward. He stopped. Seemed flustered, frustrated by the enormity of the audience. Then he bent over the platform’s guardrail, pointing into the crowd. Pointed, and brought both hands to his chest. Pointed and gestured to himself, singling someone out. Again and again, saying with his emphatic movements, “Her. Bring her to me.”

A gasp rippled through the audience when Bono climbed over the guardrail, and dropped into the moat between the security fence and the base of the stage. Three members of the security staff, in yellow T-shirts, worked to extract a young woman from the mob writhing at the fence. Photographers swarmed in.

When the young woman was pulled free, she threw herself into Bono’s arms.

And there, amid the tumult of security, photographers—garbage strewn on the ground from the crowd along the fence—the screaming multitudes thronging the field and filling the surrounding stands, Bono danced with the girl. Eyes closed. Holding her hand, holding her close, as though alone in a quiet pub, moving to a favourite song.

I watched, transfixed, breath caught in my throat, a flash of tears searing my eyes. I was only fourteen, didn’t know much about much, but always sensed there was more to rock and roll than electric guitars and long hair; more than just entertainment—and had just seen proof of that.

Bono kissed the girl, then climbed back up to the TV camera platform. He took up the microphone again, and filled Wembley—filled me—with his voice.


Laura_rok_chik said...

I completely agree the Bono moment was totally magical I have Live Aid on dvd and I ban't stop watching it. I think Bono is amazing his care his compassion and his voice.

Laura_rok_chik said...