Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Friday, February 09, 2024

Just For One Day : The Live Aid Musical @ The Old Vic...

Last night Stuart and I went to see John O'Farrell's jukebox musical Just For One Day at The Old Vic in London's glitzy Waterloo.
Based on the story of the 1985 benefit concert Live Aid, the musical is named after a line in David Bowie's song "Heroes", which he performed at the event.
The back drop at the show is political unrest, social revolution, boom and bust. In a decade of neon and noise and excess, one moment seemed to make the world stand still and brought 1.5 billion people together. And here they all have a story to tell about ‘the day rock ‘n’ roll changed the world’. Or did it?
The Live Aid gig, or more accurately gigs, (in fact two concerts were performed that day in London’s Wembley Stadium and the John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia in the USA) take place in the second act of the show.
The first act sees Michael Buerk's iconic BBC broadcast from October 1984 in which he described the famine crisis in Ethiopia as 'a biblical famine in the 20th century' and 'the closest thing to hell on Earth' inspire Bob Geldof to act. He and Midge Ure wrote the iconic Band Aid single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" as a result.
We get the inside scoop, as indeed the musical has been produced by Bob Geldof. And with Band Aid's permission we hear 37 Live Aid songs — some just snatches of choruses, some mashups, some full-blown numbers — all crammed into the 130-minute show.
And it's some setlist. The songs are by Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Who, U2, Queen, The Police, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Pretenders, The Cars, Status Quo, Sade, The Boomtown Rats, Diana Ross, Ultravox and more.
Directed by Luke Sheppard, the cast of 26 star eschew what perhaps might have been the predictable idea of aping the rock and roll stars themselves (no unitard and stick-on moustache impersonating Freddie Mercury here) but rather let the talented performers breathe their own fire and life into the Live Aid classics.
The singing and dancing are great. The energy and musicality are fantastic. There are genuinely tingling moments too, especially when the whole ensemble is thundering along as one. Standouts are David Bowie's afore mentioned "Heroes" and The Police's hit song "Message In A Bottle". Sending out an SOS to the while indeed.
My only quibble might be that the story, because there is indeed a story behind the show, seem a little tacked on. We don't really care about the love story. The build up to the concert is drama enough. And there’s plenty of comedy by the appearance of VAT grabbing Margaret Thatcher as the pantomime villain. 
The Old Vic stage set is pretty basic and largely relies on lighting - which is probably a good thing. It keeps the costs down. 10% from the sale of all tickets will be donated directly to The Band Aid Charitable Trust.
It'll run and run and then tour and tour.  And the audiences will sing along to every song.

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