Date: 2 July 2005. It was to be the biggest gig for 20 years, the biggest global event in the history of planet Earth. It was Live 8.
A galaxy of stars, new and not so new, played gigs across the world with the stated aim: to Make Poverty History.
musicOMH.com's Tom Woods was somewhere in amongst the 150,000 lucky recipients of freebie tickets at Sir Bob Geldof's epic-sized shindig in London's Hyde Park...
At the gates of Hyde Park, a sign read You Make A Difference, serving to motivate the thousands marching by in hour-long queues, being sent sprawling by enormous swinging rucksacks, and struggling to sustain a conversation amid the roaring of overhead helicopters.
Come On, Give Us A Smile, the next sign pleads. One factor I always felt would shape the outcome of this extraordinary venture, was just who the lucky recipients of free tickets were. Arriving at the main stage, I began to gingerly make my way through a minefield of picnicking families, scoffing at my determination to reach a better viewpoint. Were these the British revolutionaries who were to flock to the banners of the world's biggest rock stars and change world history?
I had my doubts, and when the world's greatest pop star (plus Bono) hit the stage to little more than polite applause, delivering Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at an alarmingly low volume, alarm bells were ringing. During a rendition of Unchained Melody from U2, crowd atmosphere was sufficiently muted for me to hear a lady several rows forward ask "What the hell's he playing this for?", and even a faultless display from Coldplay, featuring Richard Ashcroft, no less, was spoiled by overhead helicopters. The forthcoming nine hours, I feared, could prove to be very long indeed.
But then every concert needs warming up, and with a little help from Little Britain's Lou and Andy, Sir Elton John kicked 150,000 backsides into life, thumping out Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, although crowd chanting was restricted to each individual murmuring self-consciously to themselves. Not even Elton can expect everything at once, even if he was joined onstage by the headline-grabbing Pete Doherty for a shambolic rendition of Children Of The Revolution.
Now that the party had begun, any danger that we may forget our reasons for our day out were dispelled by some stirring words of human responsibility from Sir Bob Geldof himself, along with multi-squillionaire Bill Gates, followed by Youssou N'Dour's collaboration with Dido. The Senegalese star lent his beautiful voice to sound the African continent's cry for equality, with Dido taking Neneh Cherry's part in N'Dour's hit 7 Seconds. The pair would go on to play at the Eden Project in Cornwall and in Paris on the same day.
Worthy cause now installed, the star-studded line-up continued in earnest Stereophonics stormed the stage with The Bartender And The Thief and Dakota before The Office's Ricky Gervais delighted us with "that" dance, and REM wheeled out an essential dose of sentimentality with Everybody Hurts, Michael Stipe replete with sparkly blue paint rendering him a visual superhero.
With an ever-increasing tempo filling the park, Geldof revealed the true potential of his pulling power. Heads turned in bewilderment upon the introduction of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the appearance of whom should prove decisive in prodding the G8 leaders - the people whom this shindig is ostensibly about. Their faces are repeatedly beamed across all the participating venues in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA and South Africa.
Well received sets from Ms Dynamite, Keane and Travis gently spread the influence of Make Poverty History, as indicated not only by Fran Healey's underwear, but by the steady climb of the giant red digits displayed on stage. These represented the running total of names joining the Live 8 petition.
Inevitably, Sir Bob decided to give an airing to The Boomtown Rats' joyfully crap hit I Don't Like Mondays, but even this was forgiven (indulged?) by a now baying crowd. Much has been said of the use of music and celebrities to articulate Geldof's message, and to what extent today was more career than awareness-enhancing, but few can deny the when Brad Pitt speaks you both scream, and listen, therefore his urge "let us be outraged" surely can have done no harm.
That said, there are celebrities with more true care and passion for the cause than others, which is clearly detectable throughout the concert. One with the truest feeling for Africa and its woes was undoubtedly, as Brad put it, "the great" Annie Lennox, whose introductory video displaying HIV sufferers, accompanied by a haunting rendition of Why, was a defining moment. The 51-year-old still has a voice beyond compare, and her cry for justice rightly raised one of today's loudest receptions.