Held 16 years ago today, Live 8 saw a string of historic concerts take place in the G8 states on July 2nd 2005. The run of shows were iconic for a number of reasons, a time when the great and the good of music came together to fight against global poverty which even saw Pink Floyd’s full line-up reunite for one last time at London’s Hyde Park.
The Hyde Park concert saw the likes of Paul McCartney performing with U2 as well as a solo set from the former Beatle. The Who also took to the stage as did The Killers, Snoop Dogg, Madonna and a bizarre duet of T. Rex’s ‘Children of the Revelation’ from Elton John and Peter Doherty. Despite the big names in attendance, it was Floyd’s reunion that was the show-stealer.
For Bob Geldof to get the band to reunite was a coup. With the broken relationship of Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and David Gilmour well documented, the pair hadn’t communicated in years let alone shared a stage. In fact, while the preparations were going ahead, the two had become so distant that after Waters was approached about possibly reuniting the outfit he had to ask organiser Bob Geldof for his former bandmate’s phone number.
Geldof had some trouble in convincing Gilmour to get on board with the project, the guitarist allegedly likened linking up with Waters again to “sleeping with your ex-wife”. Waters, however, managed to get Gilmour to come around to realise this was much bigger than Pink Floyd and he saw the wider picture. The show would be the first time that the iconic line-up of David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright performed together since their 1981 concert at Earl’s Court in London.
Artists were only granted a 20-minute set which made it difficult for the band to narrow it down to just a few songs to perform at Hyde Park, a topic which led to further clashes between Gilmour and Waters. Gilmour downright refused to play ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ as he didn’t believe the message was appropriate for Live 8.
“Anyway, I don’t like it much. It’s all right but not part of the great emotional oeuvre,” Gilmour said in a 2006 interview. “The songs that Roger wanted were not the ones I thought we should do. The arrangements of the songs were not the way Roger wanted to do them. But I kind of insisted.”
Floyd finally settled on four songs which were The Dark Side of the Moon’s ‘Breathe’ and ‘Money’ followed by ‘Wish You Were Here’ before concluding their set beautifully with ‘Comfortably Numb’.
A poignant moment came during the set when Waters paid a tribute to the band’s original leader, the late Syd Barrett: “It’s actually quite emotional to be standing up here with these three guys again, after all these years – standing to be counted with the rest of you,” Waters said as they began to play ‘Wish You Were Here’ before he added: “Anyway, we’re doing this for the people who’re not here – and particularly, of course, for Syd.”
Live 8 was the perfect way for them to bid farewell to Pink Floyd for good and reunite one more time before Richard Wright’s passing three years later in 2008. The band were offered a staggering $150 million for a US tour following their appearance at Hyde Park but decided against it as they believed this was the ultimate fashion to bow out.