‘Let It Be’ is one of those songs that transcends silly tribalism or genre-specific elitism, it rings out across the airwaves as The Beatles and Paul McCartney intended it, with honesty emotion and authentic expression, it’s a masterclass.
The song has become a highlight of any Paul McCartney show and has seen the former bassist in The Beatles deliver some truly spectacular renditions of the song for huge crowds. One such mind-blowing performance sees Macca sing that track with Bob Geldof, David Bowie, Alison Moyet and Pete Townshend for Live Aid in 1985.
The Live Aid concert was a benefit gig arranged by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure as a way to try and engage with the youth of the first world about the worsening famine in Ethiopia. The charity is still providing for those affected by poverty in the third world and continues to be a bastion of the good the power of music can achieve.
The event was largely known as the “global jukebox”, as on 13th July, 1985 a concert was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London, England, United Kingdom and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, with attendances at 72,000 and 100,000 people respectively.
On the same day, a whole host of other concerts inspired by the Live Aid initiative happened in other countries. Nations like the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia, Austria, Australia and West Germany all held events. At the time, it was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time. There was an astonishing estimated audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watching the broadcast. Let us put that into perspective as nearly 40% of the world’s population.
Such a big audience provided the perfect reason for some big names to come out of the woodwork and reappear on the world stage. It saw performances from Springsteen, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Queen and so many more. It meant that the appearance of the former Beatle, McCartney alongside Bowie The Who’s Townshend and Geldof wasn’t quite the headline-grabbing moment it should have been.
Instead the performance is remembered for being a bit of a car wreck which included mics that cut out for nearly two minutes (listen for the roar when it kicks back in) and Bowie forgetting some of his lines. But all in all it saw the culmination of decades of rock and roll iconography coming together for one incredible performance.
Watch it below as Paul McCartney sings ‘Let It Be’ with David Bowie, Pete Townshends, Alison Moyet and Bob Geldof back in 1985