Take this, eat and remember that there was communion here Saturday.
The U.S. slice of Bob Geldof's international music pie was as profane as an all-night beer bust and as profound as actor Jeff Bridges' decree that July 13 would go down in history as the day that the flower children who had gone to seed in the '60s sprang back to life.
"I missed Woodstock, but I'm sure glad I'm here," Bridges told more than 92,000 sweating, swaying, shrieking fans wedged like superheated sardines into JFK Stadium for 14 hours of Saturday's Live Aid global rock concert.
Singer Lionel Richie capped the marathon all-star chorale with the proclamation in its fevered, closing moments, that the Live Aid telethon had raised an unprecedented $40 million to feed the globe. Actually, it will be some time before costs and contributions are weighed and tallied. The Philadelphia accounting firm of Laventhol & Horwath volunteered to audit the extravaganza and issue a final report to the public.
But the happy mob wallowing in 90-degree dog-day heat didn't have to wait for at least some of its hoped-for rock miracles. A Beatles reunion did not materialize, and New Jersey's beloved Bruce Springsteen did not participate, but the crowd did get to see:
--A musical marriage of Mick Jagger and Tina Turner on "State of Shock" that should brand the shy couple forever as the Arthur and Kathryn Murray of raunch rock.
--The magical reunion of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, a partial resurrection of Led Zeppelin and an Eric Clapton elegy to "Layla" that put the defunct Derek & the Dominoes back in business, if only for a few electric minutes.
--Phil Collins' virtuoso performance, hopping a Concorde for Philadelphia after his Wembley appearance to become the only transatlantic Live Aider, then singing, soloing on piano and pounding drums behind Robert Plant and Jimmy Page on "Stairway to Heaven." Appearing on the JFK stage with a 5 o'clock shadow that would make Richard Nixon envious, Collins said of his Concorde zip:
"I was in England this afternoon. Funny old world."
Unlike the pastoral Woodstock, Live Aid was dominated as much by technology as by the music. From the ABC Skycam operation, towering four stories over stadium center, to the massive video monitors flanking the stage that gave fans a quarter mile away in the back of the stands a bird's-eye view of each performance, it was an almost flawless exercise in audio-video wizardry.
The captive audience was forced to sit through commercials for all four concert sponsors (AT&T;, Chevrolet, Pepsi and Kodak), and the massive sound system went out temporarily several times, but glitches were few considering the ambitious satellite sophistry of swapping feeds back and forth between England and South Philly. During the lulls, the crowd entertained itself with Frisbees, beach balls and stadium "waves" of fans standing, shouting and sitting in a coordinated undulation. The only sustained booing came after monitors carried several minutes of an anti-famine statement read by a German rock star in German with no translation.
Generally, good feeling blanketed the unkempt amphitheater. From lightly clad couples to several hundred cases of heat exhaustion, drug overdose and alcohol dehydration, all the inevitable comparisons to the Summer of Love materialized as promised.
But the outrage of a hippie draping himself in an American flag or a female, braless, wearing a wet T-shirt, that seemed so shocking just two decades ago was shrugged off. Even punk mohawks and chrome dog collars got no second look. Stagehands regularly sprayed down half-a-dozen waving American flags along with the sunbaked fans in front of the stage, and no one shouted treason.
Petty thievery, profiteering and some minor South Jersey-style brawling arose on the darker side of the Woodstock comparisons, but the only real incident of police violence reported during the day occurred out in the stadium parking lot, more than a scream away from Live Aid fans.
Shortly after 3 p.m., a woman suspected of selling beer without a license kicked a Philadelphia patrolman who retaliated with a baton to the side of her head. Bridget Conroy, 21, was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of a deep scalp wound following her arrest and that of her boyfriend, 28-year-old Jack Varniss.
Around the stadium, the mood of the day was dichotomous. Despite the gospel of charity being preached from the stage, the spirit of free enterprise was at work elsewhere from daybreak to sunset. By nightfall, the Vendor Detail of the Philadelphia Police Department had confiscated from the stadium area several truckloads of pretzel stands, bootleg T-shirts, kielbasa vendor boxes and grocery carts loaded with block ice and beer. Five teams of officers assigned to stop unlicensed entrepreneurs and ticket scalpers also confiscated dozens of $50 Live Aid tickets that were being hawked for as high as $100 apiece at the 9 a.m. opening of the concert.
Under Philadelphia city ordinance, selling anything from bogus T-shirts to sodas without a license carries a fine of $150 to $200, depending upon the type of merchandise.
Inside the stadium, official Live Aid T-shirts went for $13 apiece, and sweat shirts for $22. The cheapest souvenir was a $5 sun visor. At an ad hoc Hard Rock Cafe constructed behind the stage for VIPs, gourmet hamburgers cost $10 apiece.
But the much-repeated disclaimer that all profits were to go to feed the hungry seemed to quiet any grumbling over inflated prices. Predictably, fans questioned by reporters gave their first reason for coming to Live Aid as the lure of a once-in-a-lifetime rock experience, but almost inevitably they added the caveat that they also genuinely hoped to save the starving.
A year ago, most of them didn't even realize that a decade-old drought was starving several thousand Africans to death every month. But by Saturday's opening moments a consciousness-raising had begun. "When we say this grace, we will move a little from the comfort of our lives, (make) their lives richer, make our lives real," said Joan Baez in introducing a Live Aid invocation of "Amazing Grace" that she climaxed with an a cappella crowd sing-along of "We Are the World."
The multinational marathon ended with that same anthem 14 hours later, featuring an all-star chorus that included Dionne Warwick, Harry Belafonte, Cher, Lionel Richie and dozens of other pop stars, dominated by the spine-chilling wail of Patti LaBelle.
Sandwiched between the two renderings of "We Are the World" were performances as powerful as Duran Duran and the Cars and as disappointing as an especially nervous, monotonal Bob Dylan. The quintessential protest troubadour may have been introduced by actor Jack Nicholson as "the transcendent Bob Dylan," but his famous strained nasality fell flat on an audience that was still high on the Jagger-Turner striptease.
Despite the ebbs and tides of energy throughout the day, it was a show to remember. David Shehadi, a South Jersey carpet salesman, took one of the 500 temporary security jobs ($4 an hour) just to see the show.
"When I took it, I didn't even know I was going to get paid," he said. "That's how much I wanted to see it."
John Casey, 25, of Springfield, Penn., was one of those who was left waiting outside, though he vowed to crash the tight security somehow later in the day when the heat let up and the crowd thinned out.
"The tickets'll get cheaper later in the day. I should be able to get one for $25 this afternoon," said Casey at sunrise, after a night of celebration in the JFK parking lot.
Casey said he and 40 of his fellow "homeboys" put down several cases of beer during the night before Live Aid, as did several hundred other tailgate partyers. By dawn, many had passed out on the pavement, over the hoods of automobiles and inside vans. Casey himself had weathered it all nicely.
"It's a great way to party, but it's for a good need though. Feeding all those people in Africa," he explained soberly.
Another member of his group, 25-year-old Bill Walton of Ridley, Penn., was also without a ticket in the morning, but was feeling equally charitable.
"I was born on a mountain and raised in a cave. Rock 'n' roll is all I crave," he chanted.
But, in a flash of magnanimity, he brightened and pointed several cars away, past snoring revelers, at the undependable old compact he had driven to the concert the night before:
"But, hey, somebody from Live Aid comes out here with a sledgehammer, I'll donate my Toyota to famine relief. For free."