Live Earth at Giants Stadium on July 7

A Review of Live Earth at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007

, Editor-in-Chief

East Rutherford, New Jersey – Saturday’s Live Earth concerts set out to make a difference in today’s climate crisis. While detractors say that the series of global rock shows will not change anything, the New York show at least delivered a entertaining day of music. Unfortunately most sets were very predictable and opportunities for unique collaborations were wasted, leaving loads of untapped potential at Giants Stadium.

Most bands, like AFI and Kt Tunstall, kept their political rants to a minimum. Others, like Ludacris and Akon, omitted any acknowledgement of the cause. Dave Matthews quietly led the way for green friendly bands in place of noticeably absent environmentalists such as Guster, Jack Johnson, and Pearl Jam. Even political heavyweights such as U2, Green Day, and New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen were all surprisingly absent and sorely missed. Instead, the soapbox was limited to Melissa Etheridge. Of course, after penning the soundtrack for Al Gore’s Oscar winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth,"& her political rant was expected. However, when it went on longer than her actual songs, even the most lefty liberals were growing tired of her set.

Kenna opened the show, before afternoon performances by singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, country superstar Keith urban, emo rockers Taking Back Sunday, AFI, and Fall Out Boy. Surprisingly, though, it was rappers Ludacris and Akon who boasted the most crowd feedback through the show’s early hours.

The show began to progress as John Mayer took stage. The ex-Berklee student was stellar on guitar throughout his set including “Gravity” and “Waiting on The World to Change.” The Dave Matthews Band held onto its usual identity of extended intros and jam sessions with their three song set. Still, back-to-back renditions of “Don’t Drink The Water” and “Too Much” brought a festive mood to the show.

Kelly Clarkson took time to promote her new album, New December, by playing her latest single “Never Again” and “How I Feel,” both of which faired better than her other new tune, “Sober.” She closed out her five-song set with a sing-along of “Since U Been Gone.” Clarkson was followed up by hip-hop superstar Kanye West, who got the crowd going with a set of fan favorites including “Gold Digger” and “Jesus Walks.”

Alicia Keys was a pleasant surprise during her afternoon set. Her incredible vocals with a great backing band brought a nice dosage of soul with rhythm and blues. Keys was fierce on “Living For The City, elegent on a cover of “Merry Mercy Me.” She debuted a beautiful new tune,& “The Thing About Love,” off her forthcoming album before closing out with fan favorite, “If I Ain’t Got You.”

Without a doubt, New Jersey’s own Bon Jovi garnered the day’s biggest ovation. After an introduction by Al Gore, Giants Stadium nearly erupted as Jon Bon Jovi and company took stage. The 80’s hair band turned alt-country contemporaries opened with the title track off their latest release, Lost Highway. Guitarist Richie Sambora, who spent time in rehab earlier this year, did not look good but still managed to sound fine. Bon Jovi yelled “My home, my house” to the adoring hometwon crowd before declaring “Will you please rise for the playing of our national anthem,” to introduce “Wanted Dead or Alive.” It didn’t seem a more passionate sing-along would top that, but then came “Livin’ On A Prayer.” If there were a roof on Giants Stadium it would have been blown off with ease during the show’s most infectious moment. After such a high, it could easily have been argued Bon Jovi should have been the band honored to close the whole show.
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The recently reunited Smashing Pumpkins (or at least lead singer Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin) rocked a tight set with high energy. The band split their set with a new material and old favorites. Off their new release, Zeitgeist, the Pumpkins delivered set opener, “United States” and lead single, “Tarantula.” Fan favorites “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and set closer “Today” sounded as strong as ever, reminding fans just how good Corgan can be.

Roger Waters’ set was as close to a Pink Floyd reunion as one could get. His set was mostly dedicated to The Dark Side Of The Moon with “Money,” “Us And Them,” “Brain Damage,” and “Eclipse” all being played. Water’s vocals were remarkably crisp and his backing band was tremendous. The highlight of his set came during “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2).” Backed by a local children’s choir, and with a flying pig (emblazed with “Together we stand, Divided we fall” on its body), Waters delivered the Pink Floyd classic as one of the day’s most memorable moments.

The Police closed out the festival with a four song set that started off with a strong and very fitting rendition of “Driven To Tears.” The crowd sang-along with “Roxanne” until the band extended it jam just a tad too long before launching into “Can’t Stand Losing You,” which was marred when the band seemed to be lost in their own jam. “Message In A Bottle” received extra help from John Mayer and Kanye West, to the delight of the crowd.
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As entertaining as Live Earth was, one couldn’t help but think how much more potential the New York show had. What defines mega-concerts like this are unique moments of collaboration. For example at Live 8, U2 and Paul McCartney teamed up for “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band,” while Richard Ashcroft joined Coldplay for the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.” With so much talent at Giants Stadium, the potential for similar special moments was great. Unfortunately, they came few and far between. Earlier in the day, Alicia Keys joined Keith Urban (whose set was much to early) for a rousing and fitting rendition of The Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter.” However, it wasn’t until the end of the show, when Mayer and West joined the Police for “Message in the Bottle,” that fans experienced something truly unique again.&

All in all, it was a great afternoon for all those and in attendance and watching on television. However, the ultimate question is: will it actually make a difference? Celebrity speakers beat Al Gore’s 7-point pledge and the theme of “Answer The Call” into attendees’ heads’ all day. The answer does not come as easily as when fans actually recycled their beer bottles on Saturday, but what they will do once they get home. Until then, Live Earth was simply a really cool global concert that could have been for any cause.

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