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Live 8 - the Concerts

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Live 8 was the biggest rock concert in history. Shows took place almost simultaneously on 2 July 2005 in London in the UK, Philadelphia in the US, Paris in France, Berlin in Germany, Rome in Italy, Barrie near Toronto in Canada, Tokyo in Japan, Moscow in Russia, and Johannesburg in South Africa. A final show took place in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 6 July. Millions of viewers at the concerts, on giant video screens throughout Britain and the world, on television, the radio, or by webcast, watched and asked the members of the G8 summit1, which was taking place from the 6th to the 8th of July, to eradicate poverty. The concerts were organised by the creator of Live Aid, Band Aid and Band Aid 20, Irish rock star Sir Bob Geldof.

The Aim

Live 8 was held in conjunction with the international Make Poverty History and ONE campaigns. The aim of these campaigns at the time was to get the leaders of the world's eight most industrialised nations (the G8) to help eradicate poverty by 2015, as stated by the United Nation's Millennium Goals2.

The campaigns called for three things. They were:

Unlike the Live Aid concert 20 years before, Live 8 was not a fund-raiser, but an awareness raiser. It was about getting a message through to the G8 to stop poverty. Bob Geldof wanted to show the leaders that millions of people were behind this cause. He also wanted people to come to Edinburgh to protest in the days before the G8.


The Live 8 shows were free, however for the London show in Hyde Park and the Edinburgh show, called 'Edinburgh 50,000: The Final Push', the tickets were distributed through SMS mobile phone text messaging competitions. Some ticket winners put their tickets up for auction on eBay, this was much criticised, especially by Geldof himself, for making personal profit out of the free tickets, and eBay eventually withdrew all of these auctions.

The Shows

Of the Live 8 shows, Tokyo was the first to begin, and a few hours later, all the other shows kicked off. The biggest of the headline-grabbing acts performed in Hyde Park, with Paul McCartney and U2 opening the show with The Beatles' 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. The lyrics, 'It was 20 years ago today', marked the fact that it was almost exactly 20 years ago to the day that the original Live Aid concert fought for the same cause, the eradication of poverty in Africa. Another of the show's highlights was when a 21-year old Ethiopian university graduate, Birhan Woldu - who would have died had it not been for Live Aid - joined Bob Geldof on stage. 'Don't let them tell you this stuff doesn't work!' she told the crowd, and the survivor held Madonna's hand through 'Like a Prayer'. Another of the show's great moments was when the group Pink Floyd put aside their differences and re-united for the special occasion.

The Philadelphia concert in the US was hosted by Will Smith. At the beginning of the Philly show, he invited the crowd at the different concerts to click their fingers every three seconds to represent the death of a child from poverty. The American Live 8 was mainly a hip-hop event, and also featured some great acts, Stevie Wonder, The Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child and Bon Jovi to name but a few.

A number of important guest speakers added their voices to the message and addressed the various crowds. These included Tom Cruise, Microsoft's Bill Gates, United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, and Nelson Mandela.

The Line-ups


  • Paul McCartney and U2
  • U2
  • Coldplay and Richard Ashcroft
  • Elton John with Pete Doherty
  • Dido with Youssou N'dour
  • Stereophonics
  • REM
  • Ms. Dynamite
  • Keane
  • Travis
  • Annie Lennox
  • Bob Geldof
  • UB40
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Razorlight
  • Madonna
  • Snow Patrol
  • The Killers
  • Joss Stone
  • Scissor Sisters
  • Velvet Revolver
  • Sting
  • Mariah Carey with The African Children's Choir
  • Robbie Williams
  • Peter Kay
  • The Who
  • Pink Floyd
  • Paul McCartney, with George Michael, and then with the whole cast


  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Bon Jovi
  • Destiny's Child
  • Kayne West
  • Will Smith
  • Toby Keith
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Alicia Keys
  • Linkin Park with Jay-Z
  • Def Leppard
  • Jars of Clay
  • Sarah Mclachlan
  • Maroon 5
  • Keith Urban
  • Rob Thomas
  • Stevie Wonder

Other Great Acts Around the World Included

  • Brian Wilson (Berlin)
  • a-Ha (Berlin)
  • Roxy Music (Berlin)
  • Green Day (Berlin)
  • Andrea Bocelli (Paris)
  • Calogero (Paris)
  • Kyo (Paris)
  • Pascal Obispo (Paris)
  • Florent Pagny (Paris)
  • Craig David (Paris)
  • The Corrs (Edinburgh)
  • Ronan Keating (Edinburgh)
  • Natasha Beddingfield (Edinburgh)
  • Duran Duran (Rome)
  • Bryan Adams (Barrie)
  • The Pet Shop Boys (Moscow)

A complete list of who played what at the Live 8 concerts can be found at an unofficial Live 8 website.

There were over 1,000 artists, one million spectators, and over two billion viewers who participated in Live 8. It was broadcast on 182 TV stations and over 2,000 radio stations.

Africa Calling

When information about the Live 8 line-ups was first released, organisers came under much criticism for not including many black and African acts. Bob Geldof said it was purely because he wanted the biggest acts he could get, and these were predominately white acts. But he organised an extra concert in The Eden Project, Cornwall, chosen because it's a largely poor area. This consisted of entirely African acts, and was held on the same day, fighting for the same cause.

The Live 8 List

Throughout Live 8, viewers and spectators were urged to send their names to a giant petition via the Internet or by mobile phone text message, which would be presented to the G8 leaders. Over 30 million people signed the list, and some of their names were shown on the giant video screens on stage at the concerts. People were also asked by the Live 8 website to submit their picture to the G8 Gallery. These pictures were stuck throughout the streets of Edinburgh over the next few days, and could be used for campaign purposes.


As Geldof urged, millions of protesters arrived in Edinburgh before July 6th for marches and the final Live 8 concert. The 'long walk to justice' brought many people to Edinburgh. Although there was some violence at a separate march, which was easily controlled by police, the majority of the marches and protests were peaceful and calm.

So Did it Make a Difference?

While some believe that the Live 8 concerts were counter-productive, and actually took the focus away from the poverty-stricken and onto the performers themselves, the G8 came to a decision to cancel debt from some of the world's poorest nations and double aid by 2010. Not everything that was wanted came out of the G8, but most supporters were moderately pleased with the result. Bob Geldof called it a 'qualified triumph', but stressed that more was still needed to Make Poverty History.

Of course, to eradicate poverty, a lot more needs to be done, but, as Kofi Annan said, '20 years ago, Live Aid achieved a staggering $200m for those suffering death by starvation. We were addressing the symptoms of poverty... Live 8 asked $25 Billion per annum for Africa to attack the structures of poverty. And Africa got it.' Without Live 8, perhaps the deal may not have gone as far, and the public would be less aware about one of the greatest problems affecting the world today. This is arguably quite an achievement for a rock concert. To quote once again Kofi Annan, 'They mean 20 Million children in school because we played our guitars.'

1The meeting of the 'Group of 8', the world's 8 most industrialised nations, being the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia.2A set of goals, set by the United Nations in the year 2000, to, among other things, halve the number of people living on under $1 a day, have all children complete primary school and halt the spread of AIDS and malaria by 2015.

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