Renaissance man is playing live at the Irish Village, Dubai tonight. By Nick Alatti
Pop singer, humanitarian, activist, businessman… Bob Geldof’s life has been one of constant reinvention. It has also been a life laced with tragedy, with the shockingly untimely deaths of his wife Paula Yates in 2000 and daughter Peaches last year. In fact, Bob is still mourning the loss of 25-yearold TV personality and model daughter Peaches and has spoken movingly about the “intolerable pain” he felt and how he felt “responsible” for it as her father.
One of Bob’s coping strategies has been live performances with his band, The Boomtown Rats, and as a solo artist. It is as the latter that Bob finds himself performing in Dubai tonight at the Irish Village – marking St Patrick’s Day, now a worldwide celebration of the Emerald Isle’s rich cultural and artistic heritage.
In an exclusive interview with , he says, “Everyone can join in – we all need a St Paddy’s Day.
“I once saw a New York policeman on duty at the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade. He had a shamrock in his cap and a big badge saying ‘Today I’m Irish and Proud!’ It was unlikely he was either but Paddy’s Day [is] a day of international fun centred around the Irish notion of “the craic”, which is Gaelic for having a laugh. It’s not a bad thing to celebrate. I love doing this gig.”
Bob grew up just outside Dublin in the seaside town of Dún Laoghaire. After a brief flirtation with rock journalism, he became the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats, a band that borrowed some of the attitudes of the punk rock movement in 1970s Britain but were unashamedly mainstream.
They hit the top of the charts in the UK twice with and
. Doubtless, Geldof’s band will be including these two hits but musically his solo output is more mature and less breathless than the Rats. “The two bands are completely different,” he says. “Different songs, sensibility and of course players.”
Despite his commercial success, Bob’s lyrics have always been peppered with sharp social commentary and he laments the decline of the protest song in popular music. “Pop music is too safe these days,” he remarks.
“But that is because pop no longer has the central role in the culture that it once had. Social media has replaced that.”
When the hits dried up for Rats in the 80s, Bob rechanneled his energy and efforts as well as his considerable powers of persuasion into fighting poverty and famine in Africa. He brought together some of the 1980s biggest pop stars such as Boy George and Bono under the banner of Band Aid for the seminal fundraising record
; a song recently rerecorded by some of today’s music stars including Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. It’s one of the myriad of achievements that earned him a knighthood in 1986. But Bob, now 63, has never been one for publicly acknowledging his efforts. “I’m not really proud of anything I’ve done,” he says. “It’s just stuff.”
Bob lost his daughter Peaches to tragic circumstances