Various Artists

Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis

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Perhaps it's unfair to judge every global concert by the standards set by Live Aid, but the Live Earth concert series is simply too similar -- in name, in scope, in artists (Sting, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, and Madonna participated in both events) -- not to invite comparisons. Live Aid was a momentous occasion in musical history, an issue-minded concert with iconic performances to match. While Live Earth's emphasis on climate change and sustainability certainly measures up to its predecessor's focus on Africa, the performances simply don't compare, regardless of the artists' good intentions. Where's the equivalent of U2's show-stealing performance? Queen's theatrics? The Who's charming messiness? They're absent from this three-disc collection, which -- to its credit -- does feature some fine numbers, but nothing that seems as inspired or worthwhile as the concert's overall goal. John Mayer, Keane, and the Police deliver confident tracks to the audio disc, and the two enclosed DVDs (which span a total of 36 tracks) highlight standout performances by Rihanna and the reunited Genesis. Most artists know exactly why they've been asked to perform and, accordingly, many deliver some sort of green-minded sermon. Bon Jovi, on the other hand, simply comes across as self-impressed, especially when a dapper-looking Jon asks the crowd to "rise for the playing of our National Anthem" before immediately launching into "Wanted Dead or Alive"." Apart from that one instance, it's hard to find true fault with this collection of moderately agreeable songs, especially when the net proceeds benefit climate protection. Live Earth certainly isn't Live Aid, but it's lively enough to warrant repeated listens.

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