Bob Geldof, the musician who harnessed the power of rock and pop to save lives, has issued a characteristic warning to the Old Vic over its plans for a musical about the 1985 Live Aid concert.
“It better not be shit,” Geldof said, while giving his approval for the London theatre’s production.
The Old Vic said Just for One Day, which will run for two months early next year, was about “one moment [that] made the world stand still and brought 1.5 billion people together – and they all have a story to tell about ‘the day rock’n’roll changed the world.’”
The Band Aid Charitable Trust has given its permission for the musical to go ahead and will receive 10% of the ticket sales.
The production will tell the story of the concert at Wembley Stadium on 13 July 1985, at which 70 global artists performed. More than 1.5 billion people watched the live broadcast. The concert, along with a second gig in Philadelphia, raised $127m for famine relief.
Live Aid was conceived by Geldof after he was moved and angered by images of people starving to death in Ethiopia. It followed the extraordinary success of the charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas? written by Geldof and Midge Ure, featuring top UK and Irish bands.
The Old Vic’s musical will feature the songs of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, the Who, U2, Queen, the Police, Elton John, Paul McCartney, the Pretenders, the Cars, Status Quo, Paul Weller, Sade, the Boomtown Rats, Bryan Adams, Diana Ross, Ultravox and others.
Geldof said: “If this musical encourages just one person to have a positive impact for the better, then it will be a job well done. I’m looking forward to seeing it at the Old Vic … it better not be shit!”
Just for One Day was not “a tribute thing”, he told the BBC. “I wouldn’t have anything to do with that. So, there isn’t a person dressed up as Freddie wearing a crap moustache. The songs drive the drama along.”
Geldof said the writer John O’Farrell and director Luke Sheppard approached him, saying “we know you are going to say no, but we want to do it because our dads have never stopped talking about this day”.
Matthew Warchus, the Old Vic’s artistic director, said: “We all remember where we watched Live Aid, who we watched it with, and the pure amazement at the feat that was unfolding before our eyes.
“It’s these memories and individual stories that are the beating heart of Just for One Day, and I can’t wait for audiences to share in a moment that galvanised the globe once again.”
The Old Vic will offer schools free tickets and workshops.