With the passing of The Giant I thought of all great music he inspired …
and interestingly enough I’d reviewed a lot of it over the years so thought I’d put some of the best together here …
This is my single favorite clip of all the live music performances I’ve ever seen on film … by anybody, ever … you just have to experience it …
And then that captured moment was so priceless and impactful that the performer, Johnny Clegg, used it in his 2013 concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. And as The Great Spirit provides, one audience member up front was capturing it on his camera and shared it with the the world …
And here’s the same song, “Asimbonanga,” sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir a few days after Madiba died . . . as a flash mob in a store!!
And then here he is two days later doing it solo with a choir at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory …
Or here’s an interesting version with Peter Gabriel on most of the lead vocals … and that builds to a rather choirific climax …
Then there was The Specials’ “Free Nelson Mandela” — the very first song in Western culture that brought attention to Mandela’s plight in early 1984.
Here’s the earliest live version of the song captured on film, on the offbeat Channel 4 show Tube, just before the song’s writer Jimmy Dammers would leave the band. And don’t miss the surprise appearance by Elvis Costello. 😉
To these ears, the most powerfully rockin of all the Mandela songs is “(I Ain’t Gonna Play) Sun City,” written by Little Steven and recorded by his all-star assemblage Artists United Against Apartheid in 1985, following in the draft “We Are The World” earlier that year.
Here he is whipping the best live version ever captured on film — in the small-venue Ritz in NYC with brother Bruce showing up to join Little Steven’s Disciples of Soul … and whoever the hell that teeth-rattling bass player is — I want him in my band!
Here’s the long-form video of “Sun City” that Little Steven’s collective of masters made. Some of the legends I noticed — Miles, Herbie, Dylan, Ringo, Springsteen, Bono, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Peter Wolf, Jimmy Cliff, The Temptations, Clarence Clemons, George Clinton, Afrika Bambaataa, Run-DMC, Darlene Love, Nona Hendrix, Ruben Blades, Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil … and … my old front yard, Washington Square Park, was the setting of the climactic choir scenes! 😉
And in 1988 when Jimmy Dammers, the guy from The Specials who wrote “Free Nelson Mandela,” organized the massive all-star “Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute” at Wembley Stadium, he was able to summon the likes of Little Steven, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, The Eurythmics, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Joe Cocker, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Simple Minds, UB40, Youssou N’Dour, Jackson Browne, Chrissie Hynde, Tracy Chapman, Paul Carrack and loads of others.
Here’s the first five minutes of the all-star “Sun City” from this gig — including Little Steven’s rippin rap about “the terrorist government of South Africa” before being backed by Simple Minds with Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’Dour, Jackson Browne and others …
Or here’s where Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour join Simple Minds for an hypnotic “Biko” — a song about another political anti-apartheid activist in South Africa — but who was killed by the police in 1977 …
Or here’s Aswad leading Sly & Robbie, Gabriel, Youssou and a ton of others in a joyous “Set Them Free” …
Or here’s Simple Minds — who were the basically the house band at the Wembley 70th Birthday Tribute — doing their “Mandela Day” …
And, okay, this has nothing to do with Mandela, but The Eurythmics do a “There Must Be An Angel” with the most soaring melodic harp solo I’ve ever heard delivered in a stadium … you just gotta experience this … it’s the climactic two minutes of the song …
and not fer nuthin but … the best female vocalist on the stage is not Annie Lennox.
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For more Adventures in music you can check out the (Route) 66 Best live performances ever captured on film.
Or the time I met and hung with Madiba’s #1 music man Johnny Clegg.
Or the night Dylan showed up at Springsteen’s show at Shea Stadium in New York.
Or when Dr. John came to Toronto and I hung with the band afterwards.
Or when Neil Young returned to Massey Hall in Toronto.
Or Furthur came back and reprised the Dead at Madison Square Garden.
Or when the Dead, Janis, The Band and others took the Festival Express train trip across Canada.
Or here’s the day I finally “got” Bob Dylan.
Or for all the music stories in general go here.
Brian Hassett firstname.lastname@example.org BrianHassett.com