There was a whopping total of 58 time slots for the two venues and with only two stages for just one day of performances which happened on Saturday, July 13th, 1985. Organizers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure must’ve been exhausted putting this event for the country of Ethiopia and their famine crisis but there commitment didn’t go unnoticed since Live Aid raised over $300 million in relief for Ethiopians. Let’s take a look at some of the best performances from that day.
1) U2 – Bad
With snippets of The Rolling Stones‘ “Ruby Tuesday” and “Sympathy for the Devil” in their song, “Bad,” Bono helped make U2 well known from this performance. The near 12-minute song shows Bono jumping down from the stage and dancing and hugging with a few women from the crowd.
CNN’s Graham Jones talks about the event in 2005 and was there with his wife and described U2s’ set:
“This was the moment which assured the band its place in history. In what seemed an endless 12-minute rendition of “Bad” (with bits of the Rolling Stones and Lou Reed thrown in) Bono, somewhat uncomfortably dressed for a hot day in black coat, black leather trousers and knee-length black boots, vaulted down into the photographer’s pit to dance with a girl fan. He knew how to connect with the audience. The crowd went wild.”
2) Led Zeppelin & Friends – Whole Lotta Love
“Any requests? Any requests?” says Robert Plant before Jimmy Page starts playing the opening guitar riffs to their hit classic “Whole Lotta Love.” The reformed remaining members of Led Zeppelin’s 20-minute set included original bassist John Paul Jones along with guests Phil Collins and Tony Thompson on drums as well as additional bassist, Paul Martinez. Although Plant didn’t like them to be called ‘Led Zeppelin’ at the time, their performance did indeed sound like them.
3) Queen – Radio Ga Ga
It would’ve been nice to hear the whole version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” as they played at Wembley Stadium but, I suppose time was tight. Their full set was over 24 minutes (which is a lot considering how many other artists played) long, so they dived right into another one of their massive hits which was “Radio Ga Ga.” They didn’t even play a full version of that either but Freddie Mercury makes it worthwhile since he gets the crowd into doing a ‘Eh Oh’ chant at the end of the song. You can watch Queen’s full set here.
4) The Cars – Drive
“Drive” was used as the background music where a montage of video clips showed the famine that was taking place in Ethiopia. Written by Cars member and rhythm guitarist Rik Ocasek in July of 1984, “Drive” was sung by late bassist Benjamin Orr and became their biggest hit single. According to Wikipedia, after The Cars performed this song at Live Aid, it charted again reaching it’s high at number four in the U.K.
5) Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing
This spectacular 11-minute performance by the Dire Straits playing the “Sultans of Swing” at Wembley Stadium is something to witness. Lead guitarist and lead vocalist Mark Knopfler proves you can sing and still play ridiculous guitar. Sure, there was a piano and sax moment during the middle of the song (which isn’t featured in the original master), but it was a really good extension of what a great song like this does live when they delivered it to the world just over thirty years ago.