Live Aid mastermind Bob Geldof announced on Tuesday that he has organized a star-studded sequel to the landmark 1985 concerts that raised hundreds of millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa. But this time, Geldof said he’s interested in raising awareness, rather than money.
Instead of two shows in two cities (like Live Aid), Geldof has lined up five concerts in five cities for the July 2 event, called Live 8, to shine a spotlight on the issue of poverty in the developing world. Among the stars on board are U2, Mariah Carey, Coldplay, 50 Cent, Jay-Z and the Dave Matthews Band. The concerts — which will be free — will take place in London’s Hyde Park, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, at the Circus Maximus in Rome and the Museum of Art in Philadelphia.
“We arrived here today because I was very reluctant to do this again. I couldn’t see how anything could possibly be better than that glorious day 20 years ago, almost perfect in what it achieved,” Geldof said at the London press conference. “But Bono and [filmmaker] Richard [Curtis], in particular, kept saying, ’Do it again.’ What could we do that was in any way different? It couldn’t be about charity anymore.”
The concerts are timed to coincide with the meeting of the G8 in Scotland (July 6-8) at which the leaders of the world’s wealthiest countries are gathering to discuss alleviating Third World debt (see “Live Aid Organizer Confirms Another ’Big’ Concert Is Coming” ).
The London show is slated to feature Paul McCartney, U2, Mariah Carey, Coldplay, Madonna, Elton John, Sting, Annie Lennox, Dido, Keane, Muse, Scissor Sisters, Joss Stone, Stereophonics, Robbie Williams, R.E.M., Razorlight, Velvet Revolver, the Killers, the Cure, Geldof and Snow Patrol; while Philly will be hosted by Will Smith and feature Bon Jovi, Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Jay-Z, Sarah McLachlan, Rob Thomas, Keith Urban, 50 Cent, Kaiser Chiefs and P. Diddy.
Berlin has Crosby, Stills & Nash, Lauryn Hill, A-ha, Die Toten Hosen and the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. So far, Jamiroquai, Placebo, Craig David, Andrea Bocelli, Johnny Halliday, Manu Chao, Youssou N’Dour and tennis-player-turned-singer Yannick Noah are on board in Paris; and Duran Duran, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are slated to play Rome.
Organizers also said plans are being sketched out to hold more concerts in other G8 countries, but they did not announce those events on Tuesday (May 31). The remaining G8 members are Japan, Canada and Russia.
In advance of the G8 summit, Geldof is also planning the Long Walk of Justice, in which he hopes to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh to make a show of support in front of the gathered dignitaries. Live 8 is the latest link in a chain of international organizations working on this goal, joining the ONE campaign in the U.S., which has been supported through a series of public-service announcements starring Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Diddy and a host of other luminaries.
“We will not tolerate the further pain of the poor while we have the financial and moral means to prevent it,” Geldof said. “The boys and girls with guitars will finally get to turn the world on its axis. What we started 20 years ago is coming to a political point in a few weeks. What we do next is seriously, properly, historically and politically important.”
Speaking to CNN Tuesday morning, Matthews said, “I think awareness is the biggest thing, which is sometimes what’s needed to move the leaders of the world.” Growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, Matthews said he saw firsthand how an event like Live Aid can help change people’s minds. “The people of the world rose up and changed [things],” he said of the first concert. “This is another opportunity to say Africa shouldn’t be indebted to us … This is another chance we have to bring together the power of the people to move our leaders.”
The original Live Aid took place at Wembley Stadium in London and at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium on July 13, 1985, and raised $245 million for famine relief in Africa. It was watched by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide and featured sets from U2, Queen, David Bowie, the Who, Elvis Costello, B.B. King, Black Sabbath, Run-DMC, Sting, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Judas Priest, Santana, Elton John, Madonna, McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and a reunited Led Zeppelin with Phil Collins on drums.
[This story was originally published at 11:15 a.m. ET on 05.31.2005]