Musical Appreciation ► Live Aid

He was a member of The Boomtown Rats, an Irish Punk band from the late ’70s. At the time no one could have predicted that Bob Geldolf, writer of everyone’s favourite work anthem “I Don’t Like Mondays,” would be elevated to a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his charity work on Live Aid, the biggest fundraising Rock Concert ever mounted. It took place on two continents at two separate venues, Wembley and JFK stadiums in London and Phildelphia respectively. The simultaneous concerts were broadcast around the world and, in the final accounting, raised an estimated £150,000,000 for famine relief 27 years ago today.

However, it was the music that kept people in front of their tee vee sets. Here are just a few of the performances. [Full list of performers at below]

The Coldstream Guards set the tone for the day with the Royal Salute and God Save The Queen. Speaking of Queen; their performance is considered one of the best of the day and one of the best live performances of their career. Freddie Mercury was at the top of his game, belting out all the high notes. Here is their full performance:

Although they were never billed as such that day, here was the much anticipated reunion of Led Zeppelin, performing their biggest hit:

The Material Girl had a set:

As did Paul McCartney, whose opening was marred by a faulty microphone when he was brought out as the show closer:

David Bowie turned in an electrifying performance of Heroes:

Phil Collins performed “In The Air Tonight” in Philadelphia after a set in London earlier in the day. He’s the only artist to appear at both concerts.

This came after a hurried Concorde flight from London, where he accompanied Sting on such songs as Roxanne and Every Breath You Take:

Sting also performed with Dire Straits, recreating his performance from the Money For Nothing.

Guitar God Eric Clapton blasted out a searing Layla (with Phil Collins, who seemed to be everywhere that day, on drums):

The concerts lasted 16 hours but, with sets occurring at both venues simultaneously, the actual running time of the music was much longer. Here is the rundown for both venues with the songs performed (as listed on the WikiWackyWoo):


  •     Coldstream Guards – “Royal Salute”, “God Save The Queen” (W 12:00);
  •     Status Quo – “Rockin’ All Over the World”, “Caroline”, “Don’t Waste My Time” (W 12:02);
  •     The Style Council – “You’re the Best Thing”, “Big Boss Groove”, “Internationalists”, “Walls Come Tumbling Down” (W 12:19);
  •     The Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays”, “Drag Me Down”, “Rat Trap”, “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” (sung by the audience) (W 12:44);
  •     Adam Ant – “Vive Le Rock” (W 13:00);
  •     Ultravox – “Reap The Wild Wind”, “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes”, “One Small Day”, “Vienna” (W 13:16);
  •     Spandau Ballet – “Only When You Leave”, “Virgin”, “True” (W 13:47);
  •     Elvis Costello – “All You Need Is Love” (W 14:07);
  •     Nik Kershaw – “Wide Boy”, “Don Quixote”, “The Riddle”, “Wouldn’t It Be Good” (W 14:22);
  •     Sade – “Why Can’t We Live Together”, “Your Love Is King”, “Is It A Crime” (W 14:55);
  •     Sting and Phil Collins (with Branford Marsalis) – “Roxanne”, “Driven To Tears”, “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)”, “Message In A Bottle”, “In the Air Tonight”, “Long Long Way To Go”, “Every Breath You Take” (W 15:18);
  •     Howard Jones – “Hide And Seek” (W 15:50)
  •     Bryan Ferry (with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on guitar) – “Sensation”, “Boys And Girls”, “Slave To Love”, “Jealous Guy” (W 16:07);
  •     Paul Young – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (intro), “Come Back and Stay”, “That’s The Way Love Is” (with Alison Moyet), “Every Time You Go Away” (W 16:38);
  •     U2 (introduced by Jack Nicholson)– “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “Bad” (with snippets of “Satellite Of Love”, “Ruby Tuesday”, “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Walk On The Wild Side”) (W 17:20);
  •     Dire Straits – “Money for Nothing” (with Sting), “Sultans Of Swing” (W 18:00);
  •     Queen (introduced by comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones) – “Bohemian Rhapsody”/”Radio Ga-Ga”, “Hammer to Fall”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “We Will Rock You”/”We Are the Champions” (W 18:44);
  •     David Bowie (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) – “TVC 15”, “Rebel Rebel”, “Modern Love”, “Heroes” (W 19:22);
  •     The Who (introduced by Jack Nicholson) – “My Generation”/”Pinball Wizard”, “Love, Reign O’er Me”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (W 20:00);
  •     Elton John (introduced by Billy Connolly) – “I’m Still Standing”, “Bennie and the Jets”, “Rocket Man”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (with Kiki Dee), “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (with George Michael and backing vocals by Andrew Ridgeley), “Can I Get a Witness” (W 20:50);
  •     Finale at Wembley Stadium:
  •     a) Freddie Mercury and Brian May (Queen) – “Is This The World We Created?” (W 21:48),
  •     b) Paul McCartney – “Let It Be” (W 21:51),
  •     c) Band Aid (led by Bob Geldof) – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (W 21:54);

JFK Stadium

  •     Bernard Watson – “All I Really Want to Do”, “Interview” (JFK 13:51);
  •     Joan Baez (introduced by Jack Nicholson) – “Amazing Grace”/”We Are the World” (JFK 14:02);
  •     The Hooters – “And We Danced”, “All You Zombies” (JFK 14:12);
  •     Four Tops – “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)”, “Bernadette”, “It’s The Same Old Song”, “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” (JFK 14:33);
  •     Billy Ocean – “Caribbean Queen”, “Loverboy” (JFK 14:45);
  •     Black Sabbath (introduced by Chevy Chase) – “Children of the Grave”, “Iron Man”, “Paranoid” (JFK 14:52);
  •     Run–D.M.C. – “Jam Master Jay”, “King Of Rock” (JFK 15:12);
  •     Rick Springfield – “Love Somebody”, “State of the Heart”, “Human Touch” (JFK 15:30);
  •     REO Speedwagon – “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, “Roll With The Changes” (JFK 15:47);
  •     Crosby, Stills and Nash – “Southern Cross”, “Teach Your Children”, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (JFK 16:15);
  •     Judas Priest – “Living After Midnight”, “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)”, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” (JFK 16:26);
  •     Bryan Adams (introduced by Jack Nicholson) – “Kids Wanna Rock”, “Summer Of ’69”, “Tears Are Not Enough”, “Cuts Like a Knife” (JFK 17:02);
  •     The Beach Boys (introduced by Marilyn McCoo) – “California Girls”, “Help Me, Rhonda”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “Good Vibrations”, “Surfin’ USA” (JFK 17:40);
  •     George Thorogood and the Destroyers – “Who Do You Love” (with Bo Diddley), “The Sky Is Crying”, “Madison Blues” (with Albert Collins) (JFK 18:26);
  •     Simple Minds – “Ghost Dancing”, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, “Promised You A Miracle” (JFK 19:07);
  •     The Pretenders – “Time The Avenger”, “Message Of Love”, “Stop Your Sobbing”, “Back On The Chain Gang”, “Middle of the Road” (JFK 19:41);
  •     Santana and Pat Metheny – “Brotherhood”, “Primera Invasion”, “Open Invitation”, “By The Pool”/”Right Now” (JFK 20:21);
  •     Ashford & Simpson – “Solid”, “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” (with Teddy Pendergrass) (JFK 20:57);
  •     Madonna (introduced by Bette Midler) – “Holiday”, “Into The Groove”, “Love Makes The World Go Round” (JFK 21:27);
  •     Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (introduced by Don Johnson) – “American Girl”, “The Waiting”, “Rebels”, “Refugee” (JFK 22:14);
  •     Kenny Loggins – “Footloose” (JFK 22:30);
  •     The Cars – “You Might Think”, “Drive”, “Just What I Needed”, “Heartbeat City” (JFK 22:49);
  •     Neil Young – “Sugar Mountain”, “The Needle and the Damage Done”, “Helpless”, “Nothing Is Perfect (In God’s Perfect Plan)”, “Powderfinger” (JFK 23:07);
  •     Power Station – “Murderess”, “Get It On” (JFK 23:43);
  •     Thompson Twins – “Hold Me Now”, “Revolution” (with Madonna, Steve Stevens and Nile Rodgers) (JFK 00:21);
  •     Eric Clapton (with Phil Collins) – “White Room”, “She’s Waiting”, “Layla” (JFK 00:39);
  •     Phil Collins (having flown Concorde from UK to US) – “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)”, “In The Air Tonight” (JFK 01:04);
  •     Led Zeppelin Reunion – (with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Tony Thompson, Paul Martinez, and Phil Collins) – “Rock and Roll”, “Whole Lotta Love”, “Stairway To Heaven” (JFK 01:10);
  •     Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”, “Daylight Again/Find The Cost of Freedom” (JFK 01:40);
  •     Duran Duran – “A View to a Kill”, “Union Of The Snake”, “Save A Prayer”, “The Reflex” (JFK 01:45);
  •     Patti LaBelle – “New Attitude”, “Imagine”, “Forever Young”, “Stir It Up”, “Over The Rainbow”, “Why Can’t I Get It Over” (JFK 02:20);
  •     Hall & Oates – “Out Of Touch”, “Maneater”, “Get Ready” (with Eddie Kendricks), “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (with David Ruffin), “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, “My Girl” (with Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin) (JFK 02:50);
  •     Mick Jagger (with Hall & Oates / Eddie Kendricks / David Ruffin) – “Lonely At The Top”, “Just Another Night”, “Miss You”, “State Of Shock”/”It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It) (reprise)” (with Tina Turner) (JFK 03:15);
  •     Finale at JFK Stadium:
  •     a) Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood – “Ballad of Hollis Brown”, “When the Ship Comes In”, Blowin’ In The Wind” (JFK 03:39),
  •     b) USA for Africa (led by Lionel Richie) – “We Are the World” (JFK 3:55)

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.