Whether you’re behind the politics of it all or not, it’s hard not to enjoy the wide variety of good sounds packed into this package.
Unlike "Live Aid", which even the most hardened conservative could get behind, the recent Live Earth concert was far more politically divided. After all, Democrat and former Vice President Al Gore was behind it. Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth was like weaponry in the hands of environmentalists, but a thorn in the side to conservatives. So if you don’t believe global warming is a certain reality, it’s awfully hard to get behind this concert's cause. But Gore had little trouble lining up some of the biggest music names on the planet.
This single CD, twin DVD set offers up a wide variety of musical talent. For rock & rollers, there’s Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These”, which is transformed from a generic warning into a dire weather report within this unique setting. The Police, not usually known for their hard rocking abilities, crank up “Driven To Tears” to 11 because Andy Summers is given plenty of room to stretch out and bend his strings. Chris Cornell gives Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” the solo treatment, while poodle-haired Bon Jovi reaches for all the extra drama he can get with “Wanted Dead or Alive”. Lenny Kravitz reprises one of rock music's best recent guitar riffs as he performs “Are You Gonna Go My Way”. Although also not known as a rocker, John Mayer electrifies the blues licks of his “Gravity”. Lastly, Linkin Park performs its breathless “Bleed It Out”.
There isn’t much classic rock contained on this disc, although Roger Waters helps bring one of Pink Floyd’s greatest moments back to life for “Another Brick in the Wall Part II”. There also isn’t a whole lot of rap music, as Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” is the only taste.
Fans of Britpop will likely be happy with all the English accents filling out this CD. Keane gives us “Bedshaped”, while heartthrob James Blunt performs “Wisemen”. But my favorite of all is an unexpected duet on “Que Sera, Sera” from Damien Rice & David Gray. Both men are usually dead serious singer/songwriters, so to hear them singing such a lighthearted cover is a true treat. KT Tunstall is the Brit who adds a feminine touch with “Suddenly I See”.
Lastly, the soul/dance crowd is appeased with Madonna’s “Hey You”. But the best R&B-leaning moment arrives with Corinne Bailey Rae & John Legend’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”. Not only is it a fantastic song, but its tears shed over the sad state of our planet offer the perfectly appropriate cry for help.
This package’s two DVDs include plenty of performances not included on the CD. Visual highlights include Wolfmother, Crowded House, Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band, and Metallica.
It’s hard to know what kind of affect this benefit show will have regarding an end to global warming. I highly doubt the Rush Limbaughs of this world took the time to watch the concert when it was originally broadcast, nor are they likely to pick up this new CD/DVD package. Instead, I get the sinking feeling these artists were merely preaching to the converted. Yet whether you’re behind the politics of it all or not, it’s hard not to enjoy the wide variety of good sounds packed into this package.