When Dreams Meet Reality: Bob Geldof in Austin
Bob Geldof was in Austin last month to attend the SXSW Music Conference as its Keynote Speaker and to perform two concerts while here in promotion of his newest CD "How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell". Yes, this is the Bob Geldof of Live Aid fame - the same Bob Geldof who was one of the organizers of the now classic Christmas charity song "Do They Know It's Christmastime At All?". The same Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats fame & that same Bob Geldof who has been making himself a pest of world leaders in defense of the world's poor (Thank God) - THAT Bob Geldof.
As I always loved Bob Geldof, especially his honesty & his integrity, and had never seen him in concert - I was THRILLED that Bob was playing a FREE concert the day after St. Patrick's Day in Austin. I knew that I HAD to be there. This may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to see (and hopefully meet) one of the men whom I most admire in life and whom has always been a sort of mentor to me in my social activism for Africa.
I won't provide all the details of that day but here is the best recollection of some of my experiences of that day at Jovitas in Austin. It is to give you some of my thoughts of that day & to paint an accurate picture of what transpired there.
Dancing in the Moonlight
Bob & his band were the headline act at an event entitled "Dancing in the Moonlight" at Jovitas in Austin which featured at least a dozen other Irish bands, including The Mighty Steph & BP Fallon (a personal favorite of mine). This was SXSW's 25th anniversary year & it is also the 25th anniversary year of the passing of legendary Thin Lizzy frontman, Phil Lynnott - thus the event was entitled "Dancing in the Moonlight" after one of Thin Lizzy's seminal songs.
It was a warm, humid yet beautiful night when Bob & band took the stage about 7:30 pm for this outdoor concert. Several hundred people were in attendance, ranging in various ages. I was there with several other Bob Geldof fans & was able to get a spot right in front of the stage slightly to the left of Bob's mic. With me was the eight year old daughter of one of my friends who was completely enthralled by attending her first big concert.
Bob came out wearing a really stunning ensemble - a black shirt with white polka dots over which he wore a green iridescent suit. For Bob Geldof, this was a very good look. Bob would sing songs from throughout his 35 year old musical career with a band composed of several longtime musical associates & former Boomtown Rats. The significance of this was not lost to me - as I remembered how U2 have stuck together as a band & as friends through their career which has paralleled the same virtual length of time as Bob & his band. (There is something good to be said about the Irish sense of loyalty.)
The concert lasted a full ninety minutes. Crowd favorites were several songs which evoked a TRUE Irish feel to them (replete with Bob dancing!) and several songs from his newest CD "How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell" (even Bob joked about the title of the CD and of how he came to use it for his latest CD). He was very open to the audience onstage - speaking effortlessly about the pains in his past, especially regarding his ex-wife Paula Yates, and of how he has mellowed a bit through the years.
For me, I would find this refreshing coming from any artist but coming from Bob Geldof - a man who always seemed to need to be in complete control of every situation in his life - the ability now to be vunerable with his audience was an experience that I'll never forget. This wasn't faked intimacy that I sometimes see coming from others onstage - this was REAL INTIMACY & I was REJOICING inside, just a few centimeters away from him, that Bob has perhaps found what he was looking for in life.
The absolute highlights of the concert for me was Bob's rousing performance of "I Don't Like Mondays" & his somewhat tearful, sincere goodbye to us of "Here's to You" which closed out the performance.
I must give Bob a "thumbs up" on one other thing. As we all know, Bob is easy to use expletives in his conversations. That's a longtime trademark of his & perhaps an ingrained habit. So he started using the F word fairly regularly in his talks with us from onstage until he noticed the eight year old girl with me virtually right in front of him. After that, I noticed that he consciously watched his language & the expletives were normally replaced with less offensive terms. Such is the REAL Bob Geldof - a loving father and protector of children (truth be known).
Thanks Bob Geldof for an outstanding concert & for simply being you. ~
PS: Before the concert, I did get the chance to go inside the artist area where Bob & BP Fallon and band members were staying. I had the chance the previous day to meet BP Fallon and have a lovely talk with him so this time my hope was to meet Bob. I had no planned speech prepared for him - I just wanted to let the moment unfold as it would. As he was approaching, Bob saw me & my friend and stopped to say hello. My friend had met Bob before & really wanted this to be my moment. (yes - there still are some great music fans out here)
I was standing on a rock waiting for Bob to approach us so when he stopped to speak with me, I was his height & able to look him him right in the eyes, barely six inches away from him. What I saw in his eyes was a refreshing spirit of joy, of life and of a little flirtatiousness (Irish men are good at this - smile). His smile beamed on his face & he seemed to be truly "in the moment" with me.
He told how much he liked my green paper bead jewelry from Uganda (made by Bono's friend Agnes Nyamayarwo and the women of the MPWN) and smiled when he saw my ONE band on my wrist.
I could have gone on about Africa with him but I simply told him how much he has meant to me through the years & has emboldened me in my own social activism for Africa. I thanked him for all the years of musical memories that he has given us & told him that I was THRILLED that he is back doing something he truly loves - performing his music.
It will always be several minutes of my life that I will NEVER forget. ~
Deborah Kreuser ♫ firstname.lastname@example.org
This column is part of Edge's blog by Regina O'Numb. The words and pics are by Debbie Kreuser.