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when harvey met bob, biographical film, biography, review, biopic

When Harvey Met Bob (2010) 

It was a simple concept really. Following on from the hit single ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’, which raised £6 million for famine relief in Ethiopia, Bob Geldof envisioned a benefit concert. Billed as a global jukebox, where viewers phone in money and music comes out, Live Aid would feature such top line acts as Queen, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney. The only problem was that nobody had informed the performers. As amusingly depicted in When Harvey Met Bob, the organization of this momentous event was as shambolic as Geldof’s appearance.

The tone is set from the opening credits which remind us that while the film is based on a true story much of what follows is fabricated, but it’s all in a good cause. After a cursory glance at the release of ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’, the biopic focuses on Geldof’s efforts to raise more money in the hope that the aid isn’t swallowed up by administrative costs. Commandeered to help him in this endeavour is Marsha Hunt, who on her first day at Polygram Records finds herself working as Geldof’s personal assistant, chauffeur and general whipping boy.  Equally frustrated by Geldof’s unrelenting (and probably unrealistic) demands is rock promoter Harvey Goldsmith, who is given the unenviable job of staging the concert.

It provides for a comical antagonism, as Geldof unconvincingly reassures Goldsmith that his wish list will become THE set list. Ian Hart captures the understandable frustration of a man tasked with bringing a dreamer’s ideas to fruition while Domhnall Gleeson, in one of his earlier roles, portrays Geldof as a man who cannot help but spread himself too thin. Simultaneously negotiating TV rights, satellite frequencies and headline acts while approving the purchase of ships and trucks to ferry the aid, his ‘Saint Bob’ is rude, argumentative, foul-mouthed, fiercely dogmatic and ungrateful… but it’s all for a good cause. Knowing that the team somehow manage to pull off the impossible adds to biopic’s overall fun.

A fantastic 80’s soundtrack features snippets heard throughout the biopic and offstage while Goldsmith watches on. He greets one particular act, whose performance would be recreated in later biopic, with the praise… “Good work Freddie. Well done”.

Domhnall Gleeson, Bob Geldof, Paul Rhys, Paul McCartney, Billy Connolly
fact check, fact vs fiction, inaccuracies, true story

Ignores contribution of Midge Ure, who co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and co-founded Live-Aid.

Dave Young, Billy Connolly
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