Rock Marathon Goes Global

The following article appeared in the Bangor Daily News.

LONDON - Bono effortlessly worked the crowd. Bjork strutted the stage. Celine Dion was beamed via satellite. And Bill Gates was treated like a rock star.
Live 8's long, winding road around the globe Saturday was an unprecedented extravaganza.
From Johanesburg to Philadelphia, Berlin to Tokyo, Rome to Moscow, about 700,000 fans gathered for a global music marathon designed to pressure the world's most powerful leaders into fighting African poverty when they convene at the Group of Eight summit this week.
Organizer Bob Geldof vowed to deliver "the greatest concert ever," aired live around the world on television and the Internet.
On Independence Day weekend in the United States, Will Smith, host of the Philadelphia show, said people had united for a "declaration of interdependence."
"Today we hold this truth to be self-evident: We are all in this together," Smith said. Via satellite, he led the global audience in snapping their fingers every three seconds, signifying the child death rate in Africa.
Taking the stage in Africa, Nelson Mandela elicted bigger cheers than any of the musical acts there.
"History and the generation to come will judge our leaders by the decisions they make in the coming weeks," Mandela told the crowd of more than 8,000 people. "I say to all those leaders: Do not look the other way, do not hesitate...It is within your power to prevent a genocide."
Paul McCartney and U2 opened the flagship show of hte free 10-concert festival in London's Hyde Park with a rousing performance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." A thunderous roar erupted from the crowd of about 150,000 as the two iconic rock stars belted out the first line: "It was 20 years ago today..." - a nod to the mammoth Live Aid concerts that raised millions for African famine relief in 1985.
Bono, dressed in black and wearing his trademark wrap-around shades, wrapped the crowd around his finger, enticing tens of thousands to sing along to the anthmic "One" and "Beautiful Day." The crowd cheered when a flock of white doves was released overhead.
"So this is our moment. This is our time. This is our chance to stand up for what's right," Bono said.
"We're not looking for charity, we're looking for justice. We cannot fix every problem, but the ones we can, we must."
After a brief delay - testament to the compexities of the eight-hour London extravaganza - Coldplay soothed the crowd with their hit "In My Place."
Geldof appeared onstage to introduce Microsoft billionaire and philanthopist Gates, whom the crowd greeted with a rock star's roar. "We can do this, and when we do it will be the best thing that humanity has ever done," Gates said.
The crowd joined in as REM sang, "Man on the Moon," then heard U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan delare: "This is really the United Nations."
"The whole world has come together in solidarity with the poor," Annan said.
Organizers' estimates of the crowds and broadcast audiences seemed overblown, from Geldof's claim that 3 billion people were watching around the world to talk in Philadelphia that a million people were at that show. But Live 8 was huge nonetheless, with more than 5 million page views on America Online's music site,, which aired all 10 concerts in their entirety.
AOL said more than 150,000 people concurrently streamed its video, the most ever.


Return to Beatles Articles and Interviews


Hosted by