Posted by: martinworster | November 7, 2016

Netaid at Wembley (Live Review David Bowie, George Michael, Robbie Williams)

NetAid was dubbed by the organisers as being the biggest charity show since 1985’s Live Aid concerts and in many ways lived up to this hype. Despite worries over the late date – rain always being a threat in October – Wembley Stadium was packed to the rafters with 80,000 enthusiastic punters who lapped up the range of artists including Robbie Williams, George Michael, Catatonia, Stereophonics, David Bowie and Bush. Likewise, simultaneous events kicked off in New York and Geneva with a live link up – ‘The Moment of Unity’ – between the three events at 10.PM UK.

At the UK show a suited Robbie Williams stole the show with his headline appearance which included all the favourites including ‘No Regrets’, ‘Strong’ and a rousing finale of ‘Millennium’. “If you all look under your seats you’ll find hymn mats and prayer books,” Robbie urged the crowd. “Hymn no 108 – ‘Angels'”. With that he let the audience sing the words to ‘Angels’ whilst he joined in on the chorus.

George Michael also put on an inspired show – despite his demands after his appearance stopping the BBC from broadcasting his performance. George was worried that his set was marred by poor sound quality and a sub-standard performance on his behalf. Judging from the crowd response and the fact that there were no discernable problems with the PA system, this looked more like George having an artistic strop. His entrance to the stage was the most dramatic of the evening. First off a thirty strong gospel choir took to the stage and formed a circle as they sang the opening section of ‘Fast Love’. After two minutes they parted to reveal George sitting on a swivel chair looking very cool in wrap around shades. “Thank you for coming this year,” he said. “It’s very late to have a show like this but you’re all here – you’ve braved the weather.” With that he sang ‘Father Figure’, a version of the old music hall tune, ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime?’, and finished his twenty minute slot with ‘Freedom’.

If anyone was justified in moaning about dodgy sound systems, then it should have been The Corrs. The first half of their early set opener ‘So Young’ saw Andrea singing with no sound. On other songs the microphone gave off screeches of feedback. Highlight of their show included a cover of REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ – “This song is appropriate as we’re here to give back to others,” Andrea urged.

Plug of the night had to go to David Bowie who dropped into his set the fact that his new album is now in the stores. Come on Dave! This is supposed to be about issues more important than sales figures and personal bank balances. That withstanding Mr Bowie banged out some old favourites, including ‘Life On Mars’, ‘China Girl’ and a show-stopping ‘Rebel Rebel’. Thankfully for him his plugging seemed to have not registered with the stadium.

Other acts on the bill included Bush whose sound seemed to be unappreciated by the audience. They’ve got a huge US following but lacked that back-catalogue of UK hits that’s needed on a night like this. Stereophonics on the other hand had no such worries. Fast proving themselves as THE rock band to like, they went through ‘Bartender & The Thief’, ‘Pick A Part That’s New’ and ‘Just Looking’ with their deserved penultimate billing.

Bryan Adams put on a brave face despite the fact that one of his road crew had committed suicide hours earlier. You wouldn’t have known this from his show which included ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘When You’re Gone’ minus Mel C. Catatonia’s early billing – second in after the reformed Eurythmics – also showed the way for their particular blend of pop rock. Lead singer Cerys Matthews caused some controversy backstage for her un-PC comments on world debt. When asked whether the concert would make any difference, she replied: “F**k all. It’s all to do with love that’s why we’re doing it. It will make little difference though but the truth is you have to try.”

In between each set – which averaged at a very short twenty minutes – videos were shown highlighting world poverty introduced by stars such as Michael Douglas, Meryl Streep, drum’n’ bass maestro Goldie, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Ronan Keating. In this day and age, critics bemoan the fact that that society is suffering from a severe case of charity fatigue. If that is the case it certainly wasn’t in evidence at NetAid.

NetAid hopes to raise money through it’s website, which is expected to make it a world first by generating a billion hits.

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