18 April 2020 (gig)
20 April 2020
The great and the good of the music industry come together for the mega event One World: Together At Home.
Whether directly impacted by the virus or bravely putting one’s life on the line as a key worker or simply enduring the mental strain of being physically cut off from your nearest and dearest, the coronavirus has dramatically changed the way we live our lives.
From attending school to visiting coffee shops the globe has virtually ceased the daily trappings of everyday life. As you might expect mass gathering experiences like sports and live concerts have unsurprisingly fallen by the wayside
Fortunately for the frustrated music lover, Global Citizen and the World Health Organization have come up with a simple but effective solution. If you can’t go to the show, then let the show come to you. Over eight hours, stars from Kasey Musgraves to Adam Lambert welcomed the viewer into their homes in an unorthodox global gig.
The eight-hour marathon began on multiple digital channels around the world before culminating in a two-hour televised grand finale.
Lady Gaga opens the telecast in perfect fashion busting out a cover of the Stoic ‘Smile’. Rich vocals bring forth lyrics about smiling despite the pain, and persevering in spite of yourself.
Fittingly, the piano ballad begins in downbeat fashion as if a reflection of the gravity of the situation, before the pop star player injects panache and joy into the tune. The songstress brings some much-needed levity to the proceedings, happily letting her fingers flow over the keys and free styling to her hearts content.
The opener quickly establishes the mood of the night’s main event. One with a hint of reflection and melancholy, but ultimately prevailing hopefulness. Things are bad now, but they will eventually get better.
In keeping with that spirit Elton John belts out his anthem ‘I’m Still Standing’ from the comfort of his garden no less. Country star Kacey Musgraves also proves to be an early highlight with the gently comforting ‘Rainbow’.
Given that the stars are working from home it’s understandable that many choose to go acoustic while others are left with less razzmatazz to back them. The stripped back approach works well throughout with artists like Lizzo showcasing their powerhouse vocal range, while Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes serenade the audience with a sweet rendition of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’.
Given the unique circumstance of the music sessions viewers are treated to a sneaky peek inside the performers’ humble abodes. We drop in on Lady Gaga’s conservatory as she’s using candles in broad daylight, Mick Jagger’s front room straight out of 1995, while Keith urban's set-up makes it look like he's forever on tour. It’s a side of our favourite stars we don’t tend to see and adds a little extra intrigue to the affair.
For those looking for a more exhilarating change of pace they were also in luck. The Rolling Stones pop in via video cam for a rendition of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, Keith Urban provides a rocked up version of ‘Higher Love’ and The Roots bring the fun and hijinks with their take on Men Without Hats’ ‘Safety Dance’. The latter even includes a delightful montage of nurses boogieing to the song.
The telethon had the rare distinction of not being about raising money for the cause, but instead about thanking key workers for their service. The concert also served as a call to action for viewers to show their non-financial support to the Solidarity Response Fund.
Throughout the globe spanning gig vignettes tell of everything from the doctors struggles against the virus, to SpongeBob SquarePants demonstrating how to properly wash your hands. Several showcase the heart-warming acts of the community while others bring home the sacrifices brave medical professionals are having to make for the rest of us.
For the most part the balance is struck well between warmth, optimism, and the uncomfortable reality we are currently living in.
As the event draws near to its end things take a turn toward the sombre.
Taylor Swift appears to perform the heart wrenching ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’. About her mother’s battle with cancer, it details Swift’s fears, emotional pain, and the attempts to cope.
The lyrics are powerful, raw, and relatable to those who have faced similar turmoil. The song may have come from a personal place, but it surely mirrors the devastation felt by many facing coronavirus.
It is a sobering reminder that covid-19 is not just a mere inconvenience, but a force that has profoundly devastated thousands of lives. It is more important than ever that people not only continue to take the virus seriously but work together to beat it once and for all.