n roll stars have had a history of trying to change the world
or highlight the plight of others less fortunate. In the sixties
it was Bob Dylan singing protest after protest song and Marvin
Gaye questioning "What's Going On?" In the seventies
the punk revolution inspired the Rock Against Racism series of
gigs and more recently bands as varied as REM, System Of A Down
and Dixie Chicks have made known their opposition to the Iraq
Aid - The History
In the 90s it took one man's vision, Bob Geldof, who had watched
in horror the footage the BBC broadcast of the famine and poverty
in Africa. It was something that Geldof simply couldn't walk away
from and then just carry on being an apolitical rockstar. Determination
and hustling his way through organising Live Aid he infamously
announced to the world a stellar line-up without confirming half
of them and ingeniously informed them that is was up to them to
tell the world if they couldn't play.
back to some it was a great televisual moment shared by friends
and family. To others it was a concert featuring the cream of
British musicians (U2, David Bowie, Queen) and American talent
(The Beach Boys, Run DMC, Madonna). To the people of Africa the
help and aid that the Live Aid provided was monumental. Thousands
of lives were saved and communities were rebuilt, but in the long-term
the help could only act as a band-aid.
8 - Making Poverty History
The Live 8 Events were sparked by Geldof's recent visit to Africa
where he discovered the very real horror that 20 years later people
were still living in abject poverty. This time the rallying cry
of "We want your f**king money" was replaced by "We
Want You" in order to put pressure on the 8 most powerful
people in the world prior to the G8 Summit Gleneagles, Scotland.
10 events running simultaneously around the world in London, Philadelphia,
Berlin, Rome, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Barrie, Johannesburg and an
all African line-up at the Eden Project it was time where we put
aside cultural differences to Make Poverty History. Linking up
all the concerts Will Smith greeted each nation and emphasised
why we were all watching
3 seconds a child in Africa dies. That's someone's son, someone's
around Hyde Park in the midst of 150,000 people with the sunken
faces as every 3 seconds they click and hear the haunting refrain
of "Dead" is the most moving and disturbing sights your
correspondent has ever witnessed. If you were one of the 3 billion
people who watched the coverage around the globe it's easier to
detach yourself from the issues and walk away from the shocking
images and films that are played between each of the bands. In
person, the mood is elevated above being just a concert, and none
more so than the film highlighting an African's diet. While the
western world eats plentiful amounts each night, often throwing
away, or worrying about the Atkins Diet or the GI Diet or Low-Carb
Diet we're reminded of the daily hunger of the African people:
· Leather is boiled until it infused in water - it's what
they call soup!!!
· Clay is mixed with butter - it is what they know as cake!!!
· If soup or cake is not available the mother will boil
stones in a pot while the children look on. When they ask when
the food will be ready she calmly tells them soon
so until they fall asleep of hunger. They suffer the same hunger
each and every night
U2's Bono would say later on "8 people in a room on a golf
course. We're here to make them know this is their chance to Make
Live 8 - Hyde Park - The Concert
It was a line-up that the likes of Blur's Damon Albarn had criticised
for not being multi-cultural enough, but when Paul McCartney
and U2 started the show with "Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts
Club" the cynicism faded away. Arguably the two most well
known bands in the world coming together for a cause they truly
believe in. Musically it stood up to expectations and within hours
it the track was to break records as the most downloaded song
ever in history. U2's blistering double whammy of "Beautiful
Day" and "Vertigo" cleared the way for "One",
a universal anthem for hope.
Martin has been one of the most vocal musicians for the Make Poverty
History campaign, but during Coldplay's set it was ex-Verve
frontman Richard Ashcroft who stole the show on a duet of "Bittersweet
Symphony". The band eschewed their British breakthrough hit
"Yellow" in favour of the internationally renowned "In
My Place" and "Fix You".
John camped it up through "Saturday Night's Alright For
Fighting" and "The Bitch Is Back" before bringing
the iconic Pete Doherty on stage for a rough and ready
version of T-Rex's "Children of The Revolution". Barely
standing, Doherty flailed around the stage incoherently mumbling
half-remembered lyrics. A shambolic dangerous, even inappropriate
performance, but alongside the likes of Keane, The Stereophonic
and Snow Patrol there was one man that proved the show was not
just a safe journey through middle England.
Lennox may not have been one of the immediately obvious choices
for the line-up, but when the haunting ballad "Why"
was played alongside images of young children born with HIV there
wasn't a dry eye in the audience.
don't come more highly regarded than the Queen Of Pop, Madonna.
After Elton John's recent disparaging comments about her lip synching
she came out fighting with 3 of her greatest hits (Like A Prayer,
Music and Ray Of Light) which she sang live and managed to still
put on a great pop show for her brief 15 minute set.
the Philadelphia line-up boasting an impress array of black artists
including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Jay Z and Destiny's Child,
the UK concerts only featured Snoop Dogg, Ms Dynamite and the
mixed race Mariah Carey. While the former two added an essential
dynamic to the event with Ms Dynamite delivering one of
the most powerful speeches of the event ("We are a nation
that has tortured and killed the Third World for centuries. If
there's a debt to be paid, surely we're the ones who owe it),
Mariah Carey lived up to her diva reputation at the most
inappropriate times. When children are starving surely any sensible
person would realise it's not the time to introduce your personal
masseuse and water carrier.
the event over-running by nearly 3 hours, tube stations closed
down at midnight and the people stranded in the centre of London
people needed something special to keep them riveted after 10
hours in the sun. He may have been the most "lightweight"
artist on the bill, but Robbie Williams certainly knows
how entertain the crowd and after Mariah it was exactly what we
needed. The ghost of Freddie Mercury lived on as Robbie walked
his way through "We Will Rock You" with effortless ease
before launching into an electric romp of "Let Me Entertain
You". No stranger to large crowds, his own Knebworth gigs
came close to matching the spectacle of Live 8, he is everything
we should hate about our popstar - an ego bigger than mars, self-absorbed,
variety show joker - but he has that vulnerable look that lets
him get away with it.
Who and Pink Floyd are polar opposites, but they both put
on storming shows in adversity. Pete Townsend's last foray into
column inches was for all the wrong reason. This year the reason
all eyes are on him for guitar heroics that outshine any contemporary
guitar player on the bill today (and that includes Guns'n'Roses
/ Velvet Revolver axe-man Slash). With just 2 songs to prove themselves
the old members of the audience get to relive their youth and
they also win over a new generation of fans. The very idea of
Pink Floyd playing for just 15 minutes after 24 years apart
seems one of the most ridiculous ideas ever born, but this is
what Live 8 was all about - the endless possibilities not just
for this moment, but the future. Feuds between Dave Gilmour and
Roger Waters were put aside for the night as they played tribute
to Syd Barrett with tracks such as "Wish You Were Here",
"Money" and "Comfortably Numb"
show ended as it has started with Paul McCartney. With
a host of Beatles songs to choose from he chose "Get Back",
a touching plaintive "The Long & Winding Road",
"Helter Skelter" and "Drive My Car" of which
he was joined by George Michael. There was only one song
that could truly end it the event and that was "Hey Jude"
during which Bob Geldof, The Who, Pink Floyd, Mariah Carey and
Annie Lennox joined the 150,000-member crowd to sing off the final
message to the G8 leaders.
By the time this article goes to press the wheels will hopefully
be set in motion by the G8 Leaders. It's going to be a long journey
and signs of change will not be seen for years, decades and generations.
Like Birham Woldu famously because a symbol of hope after the
money raised from the original Live Aid managed to save her life
when she was 10 minutes from dying, there will be signs that the
world is making a real effort to Make Poverty History
- THE FACTS
MANY PEOPLE ARE DYING?
· 3000 People die every day of a mosquito bite - we can
· 9000 People die every day from a disease like Aids -
we've got drugs that can help that
· One in four African children die before the age of five
· Every three seconds a child dies from hunger, malaria
· Most African countries have paid back what they borrowed
· For every $1 we give in aid, we take back $2 in unfair
For more info:
Were you at Live 8? Did you watch Live 8 on TV?
Who were your highlights of the day?
Do you believe the concerts will change things long term for Africa?
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