Live Aid is coming to the stage in a new musical adaptation

2 October 2023, 13:26 | Updated: 2 October 2023, 13:40

Watch Brian May's reaction as the Bohemian Rhapsody cast walk onto the Live Aid stage

By Mayer Nissim

The Greatest Concert Of All Time inspires a new musical at London's Old Vic Theatre.

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Live Aid is widely accepted to be one of the greatest – if not the very best – concerts of all time.

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organised the two star-packed charity shows in Philadelphia and London on Saturday, July 13, 1985, with proceeds donated to help those affected by the famines in Ethiopia.

Around 72,000 people were in attendance at Wembley Stadium, with nearly 90,000 at John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, with an estimated TV audience of 1.9 billion people.

And now fans will be able to relive the show, in a sense, as it has inspired an upcoming stage musical in London.

New play Just For One Day – named after a lyric from David Bowie's "Heroes" – is a love story inspired by real events, interspersed with the genesis of the Band Aid and Live Aid project.

Bob Geldof at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium
Bob Geldof at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium. Picture: Getty Images

It will run at London's Old Vic Theatre from January 26, 2023 to March 30, 2024, and has the blessing of Bob Geldof, who visited workshops for the musical alongside Live Aid promoter Harvey Goldsmith and Lord Grade.

"Political unrest, social revolution, boom and bust. In a decade of neon and noise, one moment 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’', reads the official blurb.

"Featuring 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 more, this is the story of Live Aid and the people united by it."

David Bowie - Heroes (Live Aid, 1985)

Bob told BBC News: "This isn't a tribute thing. 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.

"The story is based on actual testimony from the day. It's real people telling their story throughout this. So it's complex theatre."

Geldof will be plained by Craige Els, and Bob quipped: "Let me be completely blunt. It's bad enough being Bob Geldof. It's slightly worse seeing someone else pretending to be you.

David Bowie at Live Aid
David Bowie at Live Aid. Picture: Getty Images

"The one upside for me is that he's got an amazing voice, stage Bob, so that people will think I actually sing as good as that."

Just For One Day is written by John O'Farrell (Mrs Doubtfire musical) and directed by Luke Sheppard (& Juliet).

The Band Aid Charitable Trust will receive 10% of every ticket sale, though Geldof added that the real benefit would be to encourage people to "get up off your arse" to change things.

Live Aid was released on DVD in 2005, and Queen's concert-stealing performance was later recreated in the 2018 Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

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