The masks hid 20,000 smiles. Although they couldn’t be seen, one knew they were there. There was no way it wasn’t. 90 minutes was enough to unfreeze the old memories of the pre-pandemic times. Massive concerts have returned to the United States, a country that has vaccinated 45% of its population with at least one dose. Vaccines have been headlining in Vax Live, an event broadcast via YouTube to 100 countries that mixed celebrity activism with political leaders and with which it has been tried to show the world that the return to the best of our past is at our reach.
Vax Live was a strange experience, in keeping with the times we lived through. A concert organized in a gigantic stadium for 70,000, where almost all the spectators were essential health workers and workers already vaccinated and who were required negative tests for coronavirus. In the boxes there were businessmen who did not fit the profile, but who were present in what was the unofficial inauguration of an American football palace that cost more than 5,000 million dollars. They all chanted and danced to songs in a carefully designed event for television, which was never climaxed by repeated pauses from changing settings and continuous readings from the show. teleprompter of Selena Gomez, one of the drivers of the night. It was a night to promote the largest humanitarian request of the moment, the equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine around the world.
“I had been waiting for something like this for months. And being with so many people again is a little scary now because of the lack of habit but tonight is just great, “said Lina Martínez, a 34-year-old nurse at a hospital south of Los Angeles. He attended on Sunday, May 2, the day of the recording of the event, with his partner and some colleagues from the clinic. Concerts were one of Martinez’s favorite entertainments before the pandemic. Vax Live has ended the drought that started in March 2020.
Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, handled the first musical number after it was introduced by his friend Sean Penn. “Damn, this is a feeling that we had not had in a long time,” he said surprised, after interpreting Corduroy, for being again standing in front of a microphone and an audience. “If you have vaccines, do not accumulate it, distribute them now!” Was the message to the political leaders of the most recognizable face of the Seattle gang.
Pope Francis, through a recorded message, recalled that evil is not invincible and asked not to forget the most vulnerable at a time when part of the developed population reluctantly looks at the vaccine while countries like India exceed 4,000 daily deaths. The pontiff requested the temporary suspension of the intellectual property of medicines as a sign of a “spirit of communion that allows the generation of a different, more inclusive, fair and sustainable economic model.” Bergoglio’s request seems to be also accompanied by the United States.
Other political leaders made concrete commitments. The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, recalled that he will send some 7.5 million doses to Latin America and the Caribbean when his country reaches 50% of vaccinated. France will also send half a million doses to immunize African health workers in the next two months. Africa only accounts for 1% of its vaccinated population. An example of the lag. While 15 million people were immunized in the United States last week, only 10,000 doses were administered in South Africa, a country of 60 million and one of the most developed on the continent. If nothing changes, it will be until 2023 that all Africans are vaccinated.
The event organized by Global Citizen has also raised 53.8 million dollars, of which 39.5 million will go to the Covax mechanism, directed by the WHO and focused on supplying doses to poor countries. “We cannot rest until there is a fair distribution to all corners of the planet. The virus does not respect borders and this must be a universal right for everyone, ”said Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex.
Pop star Jennifer Lopez had two musical numbers in one night with a varied musical lineup. One dedicated it to versioning the classic Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, who has a long history being chanted in full capacity stadiums. Lopez called her mother to the stage, with whom she could not spend Christmas for the first time in her life because of the pandemic, and who has already been vaccinated. “We have waited too long to have our loved ones close,” said the actress and singer, who chose the Diamond theme because it was the lullaby she sang to her.
J Balvin took everyone to the moon. The Colombian was on a replica of the satellite to interpret his success Another night without you, the number that made the night dance the most and the most discreet when it came to his words directed at the cause. Something similar happened with HER, the interpreter who just won an Oscar for best original song with I can’t breathe, of the movie Jesus and the black messiah. His act was the only one outside the stadium, recorded in the parking lot. Dozens of minors from the neighborhoods near Inglewood played their Fender guitars to accompany the R&B star.
The true communal experience has not only been a theme of pop, rock whose lyrics and rhythms are shared by thousands of strangers at the same time and place. What has brought everyone together tonight, including those who were on stage, have been the 13 months we have spent locked up at home, full of loss, fear and uncertainty. Thinking if we were ever going to be in an armchair in front of the speakers again and wondering, will it be the same? What will have changed? What will be the end of this?
“I’ve had this dream,” summed it up Dave Grohl, the leader of Foo Fighters and the most eloquent group of the night with five songs, including My Hero, dedicated to all present. “This is like being at home. Now it’s like being at home. Humans need to meet and being together is how music is built, ”he said in what was his first concert in more than a year and a half. A fast he broke by inviting a legend to the stage, Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC / DC. Together they played Back in Black, whose lyrics say everything that had to be said. “I’m not saying goodbye because I know we’ll see you later,” Grohl said minutes later, ending the spell of a night where thousands had to return to a world broken by the pandemic.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.