Echo of history for America's Live 8 show

More than a million people are expected to crowd the streets of Philadelphia tomorrow to witness their own piece of the Live 8 extravaganza.

More than a million people are expected to crowd the streets of Philadelphia tomorrow to witness their own piece of the Live 8 extravaganza.

Will Smith will host the show, introducing a star-studded line-up including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Jay Z and Destiny’s Child.

The sense of history is not lost on the US organisers of this mammoth worldwide event.

A copy of the Declaration of Independence, America’s most recognised symbol of freedom, has been loaned to the city especially by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Nearly 230 years ago, 56 signatures changed the world,” said a spokesman for the One campaign.

“Tomorrow it will blaze a trail to Philadelphia’s Live 8 concert to be with the millions that believe one signature can make a difference.”

The organisation is spearheading America’s effort to make poverty history and to send President George Bush to the G8 summit in Scotland ready and willing to support its cause.

Unlike the Hyde Park show, no tickets have been distributed. Fans will simply steam on to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway until it is at capacity. Gates open at 6am and the seven-hour concert is due to kick of at midday (5pm Irish time).

Nine jumbo screens will beam out footage from the stage on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and from other Live 8 gigs taking place around the world.

Like London, no alcohol is permitted and the crowds are advised to take plenty of sunscreen and water to cope with the forecast heat.

A spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor John Street said the city was “very excited” and ready to play its part on the global stage.

“The eyes of the world will be back on Philly,” he said.

“An enormous effort has gone into ensuring that this concert outperforms the great event of 1985 and raises awareness of a fundamental cause.”

All acts are performing for free but will take away special swag bags bursting with trinkets and designer goods.

The Black Eyed Peas, P Diddy, Bon Jovi and Maroon 5 will all play a part in the action, aiming to recreate the magic from 1985 and to raise awareness of poverty in Africa.

Twenty years ago the curtain fell on Live Aid in Philadelphia. The finale was watched by millions, many of whom had dashed home from Wembley to catch the last acts some 20 hours after the event was launched in London.

Rock stars including the Beach Boys, Duran Duran, Bob Dylan, Madonna and Eric Clapton took to the stage before 90,000 fans at the city’s JFK Stadium.

The show began promptly at 9am with a proclamation from Joan Baez. “This is your Woodstock,” she said, “and it’s long overdue.”

The show featured a Led Zeppelin reunion, a Mick Jagger and Tina Turner duet, and Phil Collins who managed to cross the Atlantic to perform at both events.

Lionel Richie led the finale – a chorus of We Are the World – beamed out by a fledgling MTV and securing Bob Geldof’s vision of a global jukebox.

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