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Live 8

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Live 8
Live 8 logo
The Live 8 logo
Location(s) London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Philadelphia, Barrie, Chiba, Johannesburg, Moscow, Cornwall and Edinburgh
Years active 2005
Founded by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure
Date(s) 2 and 6 July 2005
Genre Rock music
Pop music

Live 8 was a string of benefit concerts that took place on 2 July 2005, in the G8 states and in South Africa. They were timed to precede the G8 conference and summit held at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland from 6–8 July 2005; they also coincided with the 20th anniversary of Live Aid. Run in support of the aims of the UK's Make Poverty History campaign and the Global Call for Action Against Poverty, ten simultaneous concerts were held on 2 July and one on 6 July. On 7 July, the G8 leaders pledged to double 2004 levels of aid to poor nations from US$25 billion to US$50 billion by the year 2010. Half of the money was to go to Africa.

More than 1,000 musicians performed at the concerts, which were broadcast on 182 television networks and 2,000 radio networks.

Live Aid and Band Aid organiser Bob Geldof announced the event on 31 May. Many former Live Aid acts offered their services to the cause. Prior to the official announcement of the event, many news sources (see e.g.) referred to the event as Live Aid 2. However, Geldof and co-organiser Midge Ure have since explicitly said they don't think of the event as the same as Live Aid. Geldof said "This is not Live Aid 2. These concerts are the start point for The Long Walk To Justice, the one way we can all make our voices heard in unison.". Many of the Live 8 backers were also involved in the largely forgotten NetAid concerts, including Executive Producer Jeff Pollack.

Organizers of Live 8 presented the "Live 8 List" to the world leaders at the Live 8 call that politicians take action to "Make Poverty History". Names from the list also appeared on the giant televisions at each concert during the broadcast.

An official Live 8 DVD set was released on 7 November 2005 internationally, 8 November 2005 in the United States. It was released almost a year to the day after the release of the DVD of Live Aid on 8 November 2004.


Live 8 concerts and line-ups
Cities participating in Live 8.png

2 July 2005
Hyde Park, London
Château de Versailles, near Paris
Siegessäule, Berlin
Circus Maximus, Rome
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Park Place, Barrie
Makuhari Messe, Chiba
Mary Fitzgerald Square, Johannesburg
Red Square, Moscow
"Africa Calling", Eden Project

6 July 2005
" Edinburgh 50,000 – The Final Push"

There were ten concerts held on 2 July 2005, most of them simultaneously. The first to begin was held at the Makuhari Messe in Japan, with Rize being the first of all the Live 8 performers. During the opening of the Philadelphia concert, Will Smith led the combined audiences of London, Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris and Barrie (outside Toronto) in a synchronised finger click. This was to represent the death of a child every three seconds, due to poverty.

Bob Geldof was at the event at Hyde Park in London, England and made numerous appearances on stage, including a performance of " I Don't Like Mondays". Special guests appeared throughout the concerts. Both Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Bill Gates made speeches at the London show and Nelson Mandela addressed the crowd in the South African venue. Guest presenters, ranging from sports stars to comedians, also introduced acts.

Included in the line-up were Pink Floyd, reunited with former bassist/lyricist Roger Waters for the first time in over 24 years. The complete foursome had not performed together since a show at Earls Court in London on 17 June 1981. With the death of keyboardist Richard Wright in 2008, Live 8 became the final time the four members of the band's classic line-up of the late 1960s and 1970s performed together.

The final event was held in Edinburgh, Scotland on 6 July 2005 and went by the name Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push. It featured further performances from some of the artists from the other concerts, and was the closest of the eleven to the actual location of the G8 summit.

It was also said that Live 8 organizers had planned to have the US show in New York's Central Park. However, due to the work of Larry Magid, Geldolf and others were convinced to return to Philadelphia, the U.S. home of Live Aid 20 years earlier. Over 700,000 people turned out to the Ben Franklin Parkway to experience the show.

Key events

The Live 8 concert in the Tiergarten, Berlin. On stage is a-ha
The Live 8 concert in Rome, Italy
  • 31 May 2005: Official announcement of Live 8 concerts by Bob Geldof.
  • 1 June 2005: Geldof calls for a million people to descend upon Edinburgh in a "Long Walk to Justice", on 6 July, the first day of the G8 summit at Gleneagles. Geldof is immediately criticised by Lothian and Borders Police chief constable Ian Dickenson for encouraging such a large crowd to assemble in Edinburgh with such little notice and no consultation with local authorities about how to accommodate so many people.
  • 3 June 2005: British Chancellor Gordon Brown announces that VAT will be waived on the cost of the London concert. He estimates that this will save the organisers £500,000. He also supported Geldof's call for a peaceful protest rally in Scotland.
  • 6 June 2005: Text lottery launches in the UK for tickets for the London concert. 1.5 million text messages are received in the first day.
  • 7 June 2005: Midge Ure announces a concert to be held in Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland on 6 July as the climax to the proposed rally.
  • 11 June 2005: G8 finance ministers agree to cancel the debt owed by 18 of the poorest countries.
  • 14 June 2005: eBay announces that they will block the selling-on of tickets after Geldof calls on the public to rally against the internet auction site.
  • 15 June 2005: Peter Gabriel announces he will organise a sixth simultaneous Live 8 concert dubbed "Africa Calling" featuring all African artists, to counter criticisms that most performers announced to date are white. The event is to be held in Cornwall, southwest England, on 2 July. Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour will host the event, which will also feature performances by African performers Maryam Mursal, Salif Keita and Thomas Mapfumo.
  • 16 June 2005: Geldof announces three more concerts for 2 July, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa; Makuhari Messe, Japan; and Sudbury, Canada.
  • 17 June 2005: The Live 8 List, a petition to the G8 leaders, launches.
  • 21 June 2005: "Live 8 Canada" announced. Acts include Bryan Adams, Barenaked Ladies, and more. The event will be hosted by comedians Dan Aykroyd and Tom Green
  • 21 June 2005: Damon Albarn, who recently criticised Live 8 for the lack of African artists, is now reportedly happy about Live 8 now that they have addressed his criticism. He told a reporter: "I have said certain things in relation to the density of African performers... In some way that's been addressed and that's really good... Live 8 will make a difference – it's already created a debate that we're all involved in.". Albarn's band Blur was originally a part of the Live 8 line-up, but withdrew after complaining of the event being too "Anglo-Saxon".
  • 22 June 2005: In the United States, MTV, MTV2, mtvU, and VH1 all confirm that they will broadcast Live 8 starting at Noon ET. Country Music Television and VH1 Classic will show highlights on 3 July in favour of their viewers' genres.
  • 23 June 2005: All 35,000 tickets for Canadian show are taken within 20 minutes of being made available online.
  • 24 June 2005: Live 8 Japan and South Africa announced. Acts in Japan concert include Do As Infinity, Björk, Good Charlotte, while acts in Johannesburg concert include African stars such as 4Peace Ensemble and Oumou Sangare.
  • 28 June 2005: ABC say they will broadcast a two-hour highlights event at 8 pm ET on 2 July in prime time.
  • 2 July 2005: Live 8 Russia, in Moscow's Red Square, announced. Acts include Pet Shop Boys, The Red Elvises and Bravo.
  • 2 July 2005: AOL Music begins broadcasting streams from each city live and on-demand at
  • 2 July 2005: The march against poverty in Edinburgh starts and continues mostly peacefully, with an estimate of 200,000 people involved with the march. Main concerts start.
  • 3 July 2005: Sail 8 flops.
  • 6 July 2005: Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push concert in Edinburgh takes place.
  • 8 July 2005: The G8 summit ends. Leaders pledge to increase aid to developing countries by US$50 billion overall by 2010, including an increase of US$25 billion in aid for Africa.
  • 8 July 2005: Bob Geldof thanks the G8 for meeting the Live 8 goal.
  • 25 October 2005: Official Live 8 Africa Calling at the Eden Project DVD releases.
  • 7 November 2005: Official Live 8 DVD releases internationally.
  • 8 November 2005: Official Live 8 DVD releases in North America.
  • 2 July 2006: MTV Networks, CTV and BBC One broadcast Live 8: What a Difference a Day Makes special to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the show.


A pair of Live 8 London tickets

Although the concerts were free, 66,500 pairs of tickets for the Hyde Park concert were allocated from 13 to 15 June 2005, to winners of a mobile phone text message competition that began on Monday, 6 June 2005. Entry involved sending the answer to a multiple choice question via a text message costing £1.50. Winners were drawn at random from those correctly answering the question. Over two million messages were sent during the competition, raising £3m. Thus entrants had a roughly one-in-28 chance of winning a pair of tickets. The first £1.6m raised is to be given to the Prince's Trust, who in turn will donate to the Help A London Child charity. The Prince's Trust usually host the Party in the Park concert in Hyde Park in July, a major source of British pride. That event was shoved aside in 2005 to make way for Live 8. The £1.6m donation will act as a quid pro quo. Funds raised beyond the £1.6m "will go to pay for the costs of Live 8, as it is a free event", according to the Live 8 website. When challenged on how a free event could cost anything, Live 8 organizers made their steady exit.

Some ticket-winners immediately placed their tickets for sale on the Internet auction site eBay, and were heavily criticised by the organisers of the event, including Bob Geldof. Initially, eBay defended its decision to allow the auctions to go ahead, stating that there were no laws against their sale. It also promised to make a donation to Live 8 that would be "at least equal to any fees" it would be making for such sales. Many people, angered by others seemingly using Live 8 to make money, placed fake bids for millions of pounds for such auctions in an attempt to force the sellers to take them off sale. It was later announced that eBay, under pressure from the British government, the public, as well as Geldof himself, would withdraw all auctions of the tickets.

Similar touting situations arose for the Edinburgh and Canadian shows, and eBay halted sales of those tickets as well. In fact, the 35,000 free tickets for the Canadian show were all distributed in just 20 minutes on 23 June 2005, Ticketmaster reported.

Memorable moments from the concerts

Hyde Park, London

The front profile, from the waist up, of a middle-aged blond woman. She is wearing a white, sleeveless coat and white pants. Her hair is parted in the middle and is in locks around her face. She is holding a microphone in her right hand while her left hand is placed behind her head. She is smiling looking down. Behind her a video screen is red.
Madonna performing at the Live 8 benefit concert (2005)
  • The classic line-up of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd ( Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason) played together on stage for the first time in 24 years. The band performed the songs " Speak to Me", " Breathe / Breathe (Reprise)", " Money", " Wish You Were Here" and " Comfortably Numb". They were the only band not to be verbally introduced; instead the house and stage lights were darkened while the introduction to "Speak To Me" was played, accompanied, on the video screens, by an animated version of the heart monitor graphic from the Dark Side of the Moon sleeve.
  • Pete Doherty joined Elton John for a version of T.Rex's hit " Children of the Revolution".
  • Using much of the musical equipment used by rock band Travis, who had just left the stage, Bob Geldof decided on the "spur of the moment" to perform The Boomtown Rats' hit " I Don't Like Mondays".
  • Before Madonna's set, Geldof introduced Birhan Woldu, who was the famous starving child in the CBC News report which prompted Geldof to organise Live Aid. She held hands with Madonna while the singer performed the first verses of " Like a Prayer". Geldof had asked Woldu whom she wanted to appear on stage with, with Woldu choosing Madonna as she the only artist she'd heard of.
  • Chris Martin included a verse of " Rockin' All Over the World" from Status Quo (originally written and recorded by John Fogerty) in the bridge of Coldplay's song " In My Place". Status Quo had opened the 1985 Wembley Live Aid concert with that song. In addition, Coldplay were joined by Richard Ashcroft (declared by Martin to be 'the best singer in the world') to perform " Bitter Sweet Symphony".
  • U2 and Paul McCartney opened the London concert, playing " Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Later, Bono added a couple of lines of The Beatles' " Blackbird" to the end of " Beautiful Day".
  • Robbie Williams began his set with a cover of Queen's " We Will Rock You". Williams stated in an interview that he "wanted to bring a bit of Freddie back from the original Live Aid". Williams had often performed the same section of "We Will Rock You" during his own concerts.

Philadelphia, USA

  • Almost the entire crowd joined in to sing the theme song to " The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" led by Will Smith during his appearance at the concert.
  • Philadelphia's Mayor, John Street, announced on stage that there were over 1 million spectators in the audience.
  • The closing act, Stevie Wonder, was joined on stage by Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas and Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine. Thomas dueted with him on " Higher Ground" and Levine on " Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours". During Wonder's performance, American Idol judge Paula Abdul can be seen dancing off stage right, next to concert volunteer nurse Bob Arndts. The Kaiser Chiefs, from Leeds UK opened the day with the song I Predict a Riot.

Barrie, Canada

Deep Purple made an appearance and performed " Highway Star", " Smoke on the Water" and " Hush". The Tragically Hip played a set, just before Neil Young finished off Live 8 in Barrie with "4 Strong Winds", "Rockin' in the Free World" and "O'Canada".

Berlin, Germany

Some of the highlights of the Berlin show included Brian Wilson who played a set with his band, doing Our Prayer/ Gee, God Only Knows, California Girls, Good Vibrations, and Fun Fun Fun, as well as Green Day, having released their political Rock Opera American Idiot one year previous.

Rally and protest in Edinburgh

On 2 July, the same day as the Live 8 concerts, a rally and protest march was held in central Edinburgh, the nearest major city to the Gleneagles venue for the G8 conference later that week. This protest was organised by the Make Poverty History coalition as part of a series of events ahead of the G8 conference, and had been planned for months before the announcement of Live 8.

An estimated total of 225,000 people took part, making it the largest ever protest in Scotland and the largest ever anti-poverty protest in the UK.

The marchers had been asked to wear white to make a symbolic ring of white through the city, matching the Make Poverty History white wristband. Marchers were addressed by coalition and other activists, celebrities and religious leaders who support the campaign for political action on world poverty.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Dickinson said:

I want to pay tribute to the crowd of 225,000 who came and cooperated with the police to make this a successful and memorable occasion. I also want to pay tribute to the organizers of the march who have achieved their objectives through meticulous planning and cooperation.


A lack of black presence

Based on the proposed line-up, Damon Albarn criticised the event for a lack of black presence, saying that "This country [the UK] is incredibly diverse," he said. "More than ever, black culture is an integral part of society. So why is the bill so damn Anglo-Saxon?". Albarn reportedly eventually became happy about Live 8, feeling that his criticisms had been addressed. He told a reporter on 21 June:

I have said certain things in relation to the density of African performers... In some way that's been addressed and that's really good... Live 8 will make a difference – it's already created a debate that we're all involved in.
Youssou N'Dour, one of only two African-born performers, with Dido in Hyde Park, London

A Live 8 spokesman said that a number of black performers had been approached to participate and that the event would feature a "large urban element", and pointed to the number of artists of African descent like Ms. Dynamite and Mariah Carey (whose father was of African-South American descent). However, only two Africa-born artists, one black and one white, were signed to perform at the main concerts—respectively Youssou N'Dour (Senegal) and Dave Matthews (South Africa), the leader of Dave Matthews Band. Bob Geldof originally said that this was because he had aimed for the biggest-selling, most popular artists to ensure a large television audience; but critics noted that even if this was acceptable as the sole criterion for inclusion, some of the minor white artists signed up were substantially less well-known than some major African artists. Geldof has been accused of compounding the original error by announcing an entirely African line-up ("Africa Calling") at a concert to be held at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England on the same day as the main Live 8 concerts.

Artists' careers

As with many charity events before it, Live 8 has come in for some criticism in the media. Some of these criticisms are not specific to Live 8 but representative of a particular point of view concerning western attitudes towards Africa. However, some critics such as TV and radio presenter Andy Kershaw directed criticisms at Geldof himself and the motives for Live 8:

I am coming, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Live 8 is as much to do with Geldof showing off his ability to push around presidents and prime ministers as with pointing out the potential of Africa. Indeed, Geldof appears not to be interested in Africa's strengths, only in an Africa on its knees.

Geldof is criticised for using Africa as "a catwalk" which is more about reviving the careers of ageing rock stars than about helping the poor in Africa. For example, some fans and music critics feel that some of the line-ups, such as that in Sudbury, are not only largely ethnically homogeneous but not likely to connect with, or speak to, younger fans.

Many believed that it was hypocrisy that many of the performing artists had tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars of "spare cash" lying in their bank accounts while wanting to "Make Poverty History". Counter-critics, however, point out that these celebrities are still not rich enough to be able to cancel the debts of nations. Damon Albarn also suggested that the performers' record labels should pay "a tariff" as the accompanying publicity would increase future record sales and hence their profits. Live 8, it is important to note, is not a charity event. Indeed, public figures and media have since called on the artists and their record labels to donate the profits of increased sales that followed appearance at the event. Certain artists have undertaken such action on their own initiative: David Gilmour, for example, announced that he would donate the profits of increased sales in Pink Floyd's Echoes album to charity, stating:

Though the main objective has been to raise consciousness and put pressure on the G8 leaders, I will not profit from the concert. This is money that should be used to save lives.

More criticism has been levelled at some of the performers based on what they took home for participating in the Philadelphia concert. While they received no monetary compensation, some were given gift bags containing lavish gifts and designer goodies – including Gibson guitars and Hugo Boss suits – valued at approximately $3000.

Swearing and censorship

Despite the show being broadcast before the watershed in many countries, there was no attempt at censorship. The BBC later apologised for not censoring performances such as Madonna's, where she asked the audience, "Are you fucking ready, London?" (she apologised shortly afterwards), and Snoop Dogg's performance, which contained much cursing. Madonna also swore repeatedly during her final song, " Music". Razorlight, Green Day (link-up with Live 8 Berlin), U2 and Velvet Revolver were also condemned for using strong language before the UK watershed. Performances by Robbie Williams, Pink Floyd and The Who also featured strong language, though all three appeared after the UK 9:00 pm watershed.

In the official DVD release of the concerts, Madonna's pre-song cursing was not included while her in-song cursing was. On the other hand, almost half of Snoop Dogg's performance was not made available. Robbie Williams' as well as Midge Ure's cursing comments remain from the Edinburgh concert.

In the United States, MTV censored swear words from the performances it broadcast, except for the word "bullshit" as part of the lyrics to Pink Floyd's " Money". The ABC network drew criticism when it aired a highlights special of The Who's performance of " Who Are You" (coincidentally the theme song to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, a series airing on CBS, a rival network) without censorship of the lyric, "Who the fuck are you?"; however, the song "has been aired countless times in its unedited form on radio stations across the nation since its release in 1978."

Live 8 as public relations

Critics claim the events can be best viewed as a PR campaign for G8 leaders and multinational corporations, due to the disparity between the rhetoric of the events and the actual efforts made after the events in reducing poverty.

Furthermore, the Live 8 concert's timing, coinciding with the long planned Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh, drew criticism from organisers of the march. Benedict Southworth of Make Poverty History claimed that the timing of the concert on the same day of the march diluted the political message and had the effect of leading the media to cover the concert rather than the march. He says ‘What should have been a political concert was very much kind of watered down and frittered away by the way the media covered it.’


Although the concerts in London and Philadelphia had the biggest stars lining up, both concerts are currently not available in their original, full version. Several artists' performances were cut to one or two songs, including Bon Jovi and Dido.

MTV and VH1 were criticised for cutting to commercials while bands were still performing, specifically Pink Floyd (during the guitar solo for " Comfortably Numb") and The Who right before Roger Daltrey's famous scream in " Won't Get Fooled Again". Criticism was also aimed at MTV and VH1 for focusing too much on ill-informed VJs and not enough on the music. VJs were frequently talking over the music, discussing how great it was to be hearing a particular song or seeing a particular band, rather than letting the performances speak for themselves. In some instances, VJs referred to the event as "Live 8 2005" or even "Live Aid 8" proving that they had little or no knowledge of the cause going into the event. Very few of Live 8's songs were played in full by MTV and almost none of them were broadcast live, leading some to say that MTV may have covered the event but it did not broadcast it. The following weekend, MTV and VH1 broadcast six hours of a commercial-free special devoted to Live 8 showing full performances in response to the heavy criticism. As a possible result of the criticism, neither MTV nor VH1 broadcast (or even covered) the Live Earth concerts in 2007.

Another criticism was at the London round, alcohol was barely available to concertgoers, while being made available to the VIPs.

In the weeks leading up to Live 8, the British tabloid Daily Mirror began a petition, garnering support for British rock legends Status Quo. Originally offered a 6 pm slot, the Quo already had commitments in Ireland and therefore it requested an earlier slot. The Mirror's petition, titled "No Quo, No Show", was backed by thousands though eventually nothing came of it. One proposed rationale behind this was a rumour that Geldof was angered at the Quo's reference to there being "a lot of drugs" at Live Aid in 1985.

The Spice Girls were rumoured to be coming back for their first appearance together since 1998. All across the UK, rumours began to circulate causing a frenzy with both fans and critics alike. The Spice Girls did intend to perform together at Live 8; however, Geldof decided that they would only be accepted in the event if all five members were in attendance. Due to contractual commitments in Los Angeles, spice girl Melanie Brown could not attend Live 8, so none of the girls sung on stage.

British comedian Peter Kay played a trick on Spice Girls fans in the audience, while he was introducing one of the acts. After several minutes of build-up, he introduced the Spice Girls, to cheers from the crowd, before looking backstage, supposedly confused as to whom he was introducing: "The what? The who?" He then turned back to the crowd with a smile on his face and introduced The Who.

Alternative rock band Green Day received some minor criticism for the politically charged lyrics used in the song " Holiday". Some viewers felt that the word choice caused unnecessary division in the audience and did too much to shift the focus off of ending poverty.

Oasis also declined to participate in the concerts as they were performing at the City of Manchester Stadium the same evening and the day after. Noel Gallagher later raised his resentment that musicians were expected to rally at the convenience of Geldof, and was quoted as saying "It's the general thing that rock stars should be doing something to fucking sort [the worldwide poverty issue] out. And it's like, 'Well, all right, that's what Bono and Chris Martin are for.'" He was later quoted as saying "I don't like the way that somebody suddenly decides that all the bands in England are going to fucking play and everybody jumps to attention". Later, Gallagher became one of the more vocal sceptics about the impact of Live 8, citing his belief that rock stars are not as influencing over world leaders as popular culture may believe.

The Backstreet Boys were one of the first artists offered to perform at the events but they declined as they would be performing overseas as part of their Never Gone Tour on the same dates as the events.


On 2 July 2006, BBC One, CTV and MTV broadcast Live 8: What a Difference a Day Makes. In the UK, the special was 60 minutes as compared to the U.S. version on MTV running at 90 minutes. The special was aired on MTV at 7:30 am Eastern time, giving nearly no chance for viewers to be made aware of the broadcast. Instead of airing the special late at night, MTV aired their normal broadcasting schedule for Sundays, again adding to the criticism of MTV's lack of interest in Live 8.

In a report issued in June 2006 the G8 have reportedly not lived up to their promises set in 2005. According to DATA, the U.S. has increased its development-assistance pledges but is increasingly off-track in meeting them and, in general, the G8 is moving slowly in the effort to meet its promises.

Some consider Live 8 to be a success, including Bob Geldof himself. Chris Martin of Coldplay described Live 8 as "the greatest thing that's probably been organised ever in the history of the world". However, others believe it was a publicity stunt and a failure as the G8 have already forgotten their pledges. Geldof also believes that public attention was quickly diverted by the London bombings on 7 July, the day after Live 8 Edinburgh which was the final concert in the series.

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