Twenty years earlier, African famine had caused a number of international music stars to come together on stage, in 2005 a tsunami caused another tidal wave of talent to try to assist. On this day that year, the biggest charity fundraiser concert since Live Aid took place in the unlikely locale of Cardiff, Wales. It was the first and biggest of several Tsunami Relief concerts staged in different countries to raise funds for victims of the terrible tsunami that had killed some 220 000 people and swept away entire towns about four weeks earlier. That tsunami, caused by the third-strongest earthquake ever measured offshore Indonesia, had ravaged that land and done considerable damage to other Indian Ocean-bordering locations like Thailand and India.
People worldwide were quick to reach for their wallets to help out, and the concept of a fund-raising concert came together quickly… in fact, it was less than four weeks between when the water caused the Indian Ocean destruction and when a Welsh classical singer took the stage and sang “Amazing Grace” in front of over 66 000 fans to open the show. It took place in the Millennium Stadium (now known as the Principality Stadium), home to the Welsh national rugby team. Apparently that’s quite popular there as the stadium can hold up to 74 000 despite serving a city with a population of only about 340 000!
The show began around 2 PM local time and when all was said and done, some 21 acts took the stage, with video messages from members of the Royal Family, British PM Tony Blair, and Bono added in. Musical acts spanned the genres and generations and included some local rock bands and rappers but to most of us, the most noteworthy were Keane, then up-and-coming Snow Patrol, Jools Holland, locals the Manic Street Preachers (who ironically enough had done a song called “Tsunami” in the ’90s) and the headliner, Eric Clapton. Clapton finished the show with help from Holland, and did a six-song set of old blues numbers including Robert Johnson’s “Little Queen of Spades”, Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive” and the finale of “Shake Rattle and Roll.” Although the crowd was appreciative of the legendary guitarist, the biggest cheers apparently went to the home town Manic Street Preachers, who did five songs culminating in their then new single, “A Design for Life” which hit #2 in the UK.
The Welsh benefit was broadcast live on BBC radio and streamed on their website with highlights shown on TV that night. It raised about 1.25 million pounds (about $3 million in today’s terms) for the relief effort.
A month later, on Feb. 18, a similar show was held in Anaheim, California, with the organizers, Linkin Park, as well as No Doubt, Ozzy Osbourne and the Black-eyed Peas. Tony Kanal of No Doubt said of it, “a disaster of this magnitude, that effects so many people, forces yourself to ask ‘what can I do to help?’ (we decided to) do what we do best to make the most impact in both dollars and awareness.” No Doubt he was right about that.