I could snark some about the cost to the environment of staging 10 live concerts, including the flying time involved to get everyone where they were going to be performing, but I'd rather not just now. They say they tried to be as carbon neutral as possible, which is probably more than can be said for the last few dozen "issue" concert-a-ganzas we've seen.
I do want to mention some of the things I enjoyed.
I should note that, living in Canada, I was apparently more fortunate than residents of some other countries who may have wanted to see as much as they could of the damned thing, based on their own tastes and preferences rather than those of whoever was packaging the shows. One of the hosts on the main CTV network, which ran highlights continuously from 9pm Friday night (EST), when the Sydney concert started, to 11pm Saturday night (EST), when the New York concert ended, said that Canada was getting more coverage of the concerts than any other country. Don't know how true that was, but... all 10 concerts (Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Kyoto, Hamburg, London, Johannesburg, Washington, Rio de Janeiro, New York) were aired in full on five different cable channels, in addition to the highlight coverage on the broadcast network.
There was no way I could watch all of it, of course, I had to sleep sometime, and I spent most of my awake time switching back and forth between concerts occurring simultaneously on different continents, so I missed some performers I'd really wanted to see, and probably lots of stuff I would have wanted to see if I'd known anything about it in advance, but that's what You-Tube is for.
All in all, I think the Sydney concert was the best, at least in terms of my musical (and political) tastes. But there was good stuff everywhere.
Here's my list of the great, the strange, the memorable - or at least what I remember of those right now:
Sydney opening "act" was a group of Aboriginal people performing a ceremonial greeting/thanksgiving ritual for the Earth.
Toni Collette has a band called The Finish. I did not know this. They played in Sydney. The woman can rock!
In many locations, they were filling in the time between bands with videos dealing with aspects of ecology and environmentalism. One of the vids in Sydney was about how wasteful raising meat for eating is and urging people to eat less meat to preserve the environment. The visuals during all of this involved a camera closing in on something brown and indistinct at first, but obviously organic, which this city girl took a few seconds to realise was a cow's ass. Just as I figured out what I was looking at, the cow started shitting. This continued for the whole of the spoken commentary. Although it seemed that the camera crew didn't realise what it was at first either, because they kept the camera on the videoscreen until a few seconds after the cow began shitting, and then pulled back so you could just barely make out the image until after the video was finished. Then, of course, the next act had to go and talk about what it was like to be that act following the shitting cow. I love Australians.
Crowded House in Sydney performing "Don't Dream It's Over."
David Tennant introducing the Pussycat Dolls at Wembley. Best opening line of the entire 10-show extravaganza: "In 2005, when I was Christopher Eccleston..."
Listening to Hong Kong based Band Soler in the Shanghai concert. Unknown to me until now, but I really enjoyed their sound, their harmonies, and my oh my, their lead singer is wonderful to look at. (So is his identical twin brother on guitar, but he got less air time.)
Yusuf Islam in Hamburg singing "Where Do the Children Play" and "Peace Train." He is sadder, wiser, and more at peace than he was when he was young, but he's still amazing.
Speaking of amazing, Robert Kennedy's speech in New York. That was some of the most radical political speaking from someone in the US that I've heard in long time. Talk about telling it like it is. Someone please tell me he is thinking about entering politics.
Lenny Kravitz in Rio. The whole damned act. But particularly "American Woman." Think of the geopolitics of an American-born black man performing in South America, singing an anti-American protest song written by a Canadian.
Nunatak! A live performance by satellite from Antarctica. The band consists of several of the scientists working at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Research Station. They performed to penguins, and they were pretty damned good.
Hearing old favourites from bands that have been around for a long time, or who have recently reunited, or who came back together just for the show, or who are survivors from great old bands - Genesis, Bon Jovi, UB40, Roger Waters, hell, even Duran Duran, even though they were never really one of my favourite bands.
Oh, and how could I have forgotten the return of Spinal Tap?
In a category of their own, the Police. I love Sting. Even though The Police have always had this disturbing thread of violent sexual obsession running through their songs. Loved the team up of Sting's brand of reggae/dub/ska filtered through working class London and Kanye West's rap for "Message in a Bottle."
Macy Grey in Rio. Magnificent. Also, she and her band were wearing co-ordinated protest clothing. Her dress read "Darfur Red Alert," other members wore T-shirts with words/phrases prinnted and crossed out on the front. Some of the things the band was saying no to: Racism, Global Warming, George Bush, Dick Cheney. Everyone also had a huge peace sign on their butt. It was great political theatre.
Speaking of political theatre and T-shirts, many of the performers and presenters in Sydney were wearing anti-nuclear power T-shirts.
Keith Urban and Alicia Keyes performing "Gimme Shelter" in New York. Oh my gods and goddesses. I have always loved that song.
Australian bands I'd never heard of but really must hear more from: Blue King Brown, The John Butler Trio.
Shakira dancing in Hamburg. She rocks, and oh my, can she dance.
John Mayer in New York performing "Waiting on the World to Change."
I'm absolutely certain that there was a great deal more that I could mention or even that I should mention, but it's slipped my mind - not because it was any less good or interesting or strange or memorable than anything I did mention, but just because there's a lot to remember and I didn't take notes and I'm only human and there was at least 60 hours of concert squeezed into 24.
If you watched any of it, wherever you are, let me know what you liked or thought was interesting or noteworthy - if I missed it live, maybe it'll be up on You-Tube.