Saturday, July 2, 2005
Massive music concerts took place around the planet under the Live 8 banner in an effort to put pressure on the leaders of the eight richest countries in the world to end global poverty.
All concerts were timed to take place between noon and 10pm local time, with over a million people expected to attend concerts in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, Canada, South Africa and Russia. The events were broadcast to a potential audience of five and a half billion people world-wide.
The largest concert was in the US in Philadelphia where, over the course of 7 hours, hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Destiny’s Child, Dave Matthews Band, and Black Eyed Peas among others. Philadelphia native Will Smith both performed and was the opening presenter. Peak attendance, the maximum amount of people believed to be watching Live 8 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at a given time, is estimated to have been between 600,000 and 800,000.
In Hyde Park in London, 205,000 people watched acts including Elton John, Madonna, Coldplay, Robbie Williams and Pink Floyd. The concert was opened by Sir Paul McCartney and U2 playing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – the first time the song has ever been performed live by a Beatle. It ended at 11.58pm with all of the acts coming on stage to sing one last time.
Bill Gates – founder of Microsoft and the richest man in the world (owning $46.5 billion) – appeared on the London stage to discuss the challenges facing the world, before introducing Dido. Later, Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the UN addressed the audience, thanking them for their support.
However, the first concert to open – in Japan – only drew 10,000 spectators, disappointing many.
By contrast, the aim of Live 8 – also organised by Geldof – is not fund-raising but instead to apply pressure to the leaders of the G8 to end world poverty, which claims the lives of 50,000 every day.
The Live 8 organisers are urging the G8 to:
- Double the aid sent to the world’s poorest countries,
- Fully cancel their debts,
- Change the trade laws so that they can build their own future.
The Finance Ministers of the G8 agreed a plan last month to cancel the debt of 18 of the poorest countries to the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Fund, but are requiring other countries to end political and financial corruption before they become elegible for debt relief.
On Thursday the President of the United States, George W. Bush, announced that the US will double US aid to Africa by 2010 – increasing to $8.6 billion a year. Bob Geldof welcomed the news, saying “This is the first time we have heard this sort of language.
“This is very, very positive indeed.”