Twenty years after Live Aid, the world’s leading musicians took to the London stage once more tonight to call for an end to world poverty.
Paul McCartney and U2 kicked-off the extravaganza in Hyde Park, the biggest of 10 concerts taking place around the world, with a rousing rendition of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.
A Who’s Who of rock – Coldplay, Richard Ashcroft, Elton John, Pete Doherty, Dido, the Stereophonics, REM and Ms Dynamite – all followed on stage to an estimated world audience of 5.5 billion.
The words “It was 20 years ago today” from the Sgt Pepper Beatles classic, the opening note of the show, watched by 205,000 in the park alone, harked back to the first historic concerts organised by Bob Geldof 20 years ago.
Special guest presenters included The Office star Ricky Gervais, and Little Britain’s Matt Lucas and David Walliams. The concert opened with a short trumpet fanfare from the Coldstream Guards.
The anti-poverty message was also being sent out at gigs in Paris, Johannesburg, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Philadelphia and Barrie, Canada.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was greeted with huge applause when he came on stage before Ms Dynamite, and told concert-goers: “This is really a United Nations.”
He said: “The whole world has come together in solidarity with the poor. on behalf of the poor, the voiceless and the weak I say thank you.”
Billionaire computer entrepreneur Bill Gates also turned up on stage – telling the crowd: “We know what to do.
“The generosity we are asking for can save millions of lives.
“Some day in the future all people no matter where they are born will be able to lead a healthy life.
“We can do this and when we do it will be the best thing that humanity has ever done.”
Hollywood star Brad Pitt was also set to introduce an act, while his rumoured partner Angelina Jolie brought on one of the stars at a concert of African music at the Eden Project in Cornwall.