Madonna at Live8: what went wrong?

I've been reading lots of reports of the Live8 concert in Hyde Park these last few days, and I just want to clear something up. A lot of these reports claim that Madonna's performance was one of the highlights of the day, and that she?s back on top form. This, I'm afraid to say, is utter cobblers. Not only was she not the highlight of the day, her cringe-worthy appearance was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever seen.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not usually a Madonna-hater – Like A Prayer and Ray Of Light are both classic pop albums, and I also have a soft spot for Bedtime Stories – but Saturday's performance was bad. Bad bad bad. Why? Well, the reasons are threefold of course.

  1. After Sir Bob's rousing introduction of Birhan Woldu (who was one of the starving children in the memorable footage shown at the original Live Aid) onto the stage, Madonna then decided to grab hold of here, and not let her go throughout all of Like A Prayer. The poor girl could only stand there like a lemon while Madonna acted like the nice white lady who saved her. Any charity concert has to tread carefully to not come across as smug and worthy, but Madonna ignored this completely. To me it was as bad as Michael Jackson presenting himself as the Messiah at the Brit Awards in 1996. Where was Jarvis Cocker this time?
  2. The swearing. I don?t mind a bit of swearing. In fact, I'm fairly sure that rude words make up about 70% of my day-to-day speech. But there's something about the way Madonna says "fuck"; and then just stands their with a ooh-look-aren't-I-naughty expression on her face that really pisses me off. She did exactly the same when she presented the Turner Prize in 2002 and it was embarrassing then as well. Bless her, she's always tried way too hard to be controversial, but this is just pathetic. Leave the swearing to Sir Bob, okay Madge?
  3. Twenty years ago Queen sang Radio Ga Ga, and the entire crowd sang it back to them, creating one of the iconic images of the eighties. This was the power of Freddie Mercury. At Live8, Madonna decided that she was going to have a Radio Ga Ga moment too and insisted that the crowd sing back the dodgy chorus from nobody's favourite song, Music ('Makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel'. What?). Most of us did. Several times. But this wasn't good enough for her, oh no. She wanted every single person singing it back, and so refused to stop the chant for a good three minutes. Eventually she gave up, thank God. Desperation + Arrogance + dodgy lyrics = big embarrassment for 200,000 people. Nice one, your Madgesty.

It's a shame to moan about an event which was for such a good cause, but I think that needed clearing up. Now I urge you all to forget about Madonna and go to Make Poverty History and do whatever you can, even if it's just signing a petition.