Musical Royalty Play Their Hearts Out to Make Poverty History
LONDON, UK, July 4, 2005 (ENS) - Upwards of a million fans packed 10 venues on four continents for the Live 8 free concerts on Saturday. Two billion television viewers are estimated to have tuned in worldwide.
The performances were aimed at pressuring world leaders into eradicating African poverty and addressing global warming at this week's Group of Eight summit taking place Wednesday through Friday in Scotland.
Free concerts were held in London, Cornwall, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Rome, Philadelphia, Tokyo, Johannesburg and Barrie, Ontario - in each of the G8 countries, plus South Africa.
"Today there will be noise and music and joy, the joy of exuberant possibility. On Friday there will be a great silence as the world awaits your verdict," Live 8 organizers said in a joint statement.
"History and the generations to come will judge our leaders by the decisions they make in the coming weeks," former South African president Nelson Mandela said after taking the stage in Johannesburg, where the crowd of more than 8,000 people gave him a long, heartfelt ovation.
"I say to all those leaders: Do not look the other way, do not hesitate," said Mandela. "It is within your power to prevent a genocide."
The centerpiece of the Live 8 constellation of shows was in London where 200,000 fans jammed Hyde Park to see a star-studded line-up. The event opened with Sir Paul McCartney and U2 together singing "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band," made famous by the Beatles.
It was nearly 20 years ago, on July 13, 1985, that Geldof's Live Aid concert at London's Wembly Stadium raised millions for African famine relief as an estimated 1.5 billion people watched on televisions around the world.
In Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon, McCartney performed the song live for the first time, said Bono.
"So this is our moment," said Bono as Edge began strumming the chords of "One."
"This is our time, this is our chance – to stand up for what’s right. We’re not looking for charity, we’re looking for justice. We can’t fix every problem but those we can, we must."
He described 3,000 children dying every day of malaria from mosquito bites, 9,000 people dying of HIV/AIDS, people dying because of contaminated drinking water.
Elton John rocked Hyde Park before heading to Philadelphia for today's free Sunoco Philadelphia Freedom Concert & Ball in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. John says the event is expected to raise at least two million dollars for HIV/AIDS awareness.
Madonna, Coldplay, Sting, Annie Lenox, REM, Snoop Dogg, other greats too, then McCartney closed the show singing, "Hey, Jude," joined by all the artists onstage and in the crowd.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan attended the concert at Hyde Park, he said, "to show support for all the millions of people in the world who stand to benefit if the Millennium Development Goals are reached - especially the children who will be saved from malaria or AIDS, who will grow up healthy, go to school and have the chance to earn their living and enjoy life."
In a message to the event, he voiced appreciation to the artists. "This generation - with its voice, with its votes, with its hard work - really can make poverty history," Annan said.
In Philadelphia, Stevie Wonder closed the show, introduced by actor Richard Gere who said that the 4th of July, the U.S. Independence Day, "isn't just about celebrating our independence, but our inter-dependence." A well known Buddhist, Gere was highlighting the meaning of Live 8 - that the Earth and all people are poorer when anyone lives and dies in poverty.
In Barrie, Ontario, Neil Young closed the show, his first appearance onstage since he suffered a brain aneurysm in April. Dozens of other artists, including Bryan Adams, Tragically Hip, and Bruce Cockburn sang "Rockin' in the Free World," along with Young.
About 150,000 people packed the Berlin show, fronted by American rockers Green Day.
Icelandic star Bjork opened the Tokyo show, expressing compassion for people dying in Africa from starvation.
In a joint statement, Geldof, Live 8, and Make Poverty History supporters restated their demands of the G8 leaders.
On aid, they want $50 billion - half for Africa, and half for the other poorest countries in the world. "This is the absolute minimum required to begin to win the battle against extreme poverty," they said.
On debt, they want confirmation of the 100 percent debt cancellation agreed at the G8 finance ministers' meeting. In addition, they ask that the G8 leaders "commit to 100 percent debt cancellation for all the countries that need it and remove damaging economic policies that are imposed as a condition."
On trade, they want the G8 leaders to take "decisive steps to end the unjust rules of trade, and allow poor countries to build their own economies, at their own pace." It is only through trade that Africa will eventually beat poverty on its own, they said.
At the same time, they said, "African governments must be free from corruption and thuggery and put in place recognized practices of good governance, accountability and transparency towards their own people and to the world."
Early in the morning people came from all over Britain and the world to assemble on the Meadows in Edinburgh in the biggest demonstration in Scotland since the Hunger Marches of the 1930s.
The march through the city streets began in bright sunshine just after noon led by Kumi Naidoo, head of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, the actor Gael Garcia Bernal and the Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, as well as representatives of all faiths.
As the leaders fly into Gleneagles on Wednesday evening, a concert at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium will signal the end of the Long Walk To Justice and the beginning of the G8 Summit.
Tickets have already been allocated via a free text competition.
Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol called it "a defining moment in history."
"Let’s all tell the G8 we’re watching you and you must act on our democratic request - do what the whole world wants you to do - Make Poverty History.”
One of the organizers of the G8 Edinburgh Gig, the culmination of Make Poverty History, Live8 and the Long Walk to Justice, Chris Gorman OBE, said, “What we are aiming for is an enormous celebration. This is going to be a fantastic family event, where we make that final push to the G8 to take the right decision, conclude the ‘Long Walk to Justice ‘ with the ultimate decision – No More Poverty. Thirty thousand children will die today and tomorrow and the next day through poverty related issues unless the G8 take decisive action.”
All the funds generated from the text competition will go directly to funding the event costs, with any surplus being invested into an African schools building programme.
While the Live 8 concerts were free, funds are being generated for to help make poverty history.
The opening of the Live 8 concert in London - U2 and Sir Paul McCartney collaborating on the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - has been rush-released worldwide by Universal Music Group as a digital download, available for sale only one hour after its performance on the Hyde Park stage.
The unique recording is available to buy through more than 200 online music stores and services in 30 countries, including www.Live8Live.com and the proceeds from the download sales are being donated to Live 8.