Much more than a day in the park - Live8 was ‘our chance for change’

FROM lazy indifference to the first faint simmerings of indignation to a global outcry for action to end African poverty - the positive universal response to Live8 bore delightful testimony to the lofty, not-so-crazy ideals of one Irishman.

As a warning shot across the bows of cynics who say one day cannot change the history of the world, Hyde Park and its sister concerts has began the kind of social movement politicians ignore at their peril.

Much more than a day in the park, it was a performance by people in powerful positions who capitalised on their popularity to mobilise public opinion and kickstart the sort of seachange that could change the world order.

Politics aside, Hyde Park was a glorious day’s entertainment for a public showered under with stars and serenaded by the crème- de-la-crème of the world of rock and pop.

To announce proceedings, a detachment of Coldstream Guards gave a quick blast of brass before Sir Paul McCartney and Bono and the boys bounded stageside for a rendition of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A Beautiful Day followed, in tandem with the release of a flock of white doves and a reminder of why 150,000 of us had gathered in the centre of London. It was our moment, our time, our chance for change, U2’s high priest solemnly intoned, before making way for Coldplay and Chris-he’s-fit-Martin. Wife Gywnnie hung in the wings with baby daughter Apple.

Pop’s larger-than-life showman followed - Sir Elton - who welcomed ex-Libertine Pete Doherty to join him in song on stage. Though physically present, where he was mentally is anyone’s guess - his avowals that he has kicked his drug habit to save his relationship with super-model Kate Moss could cause a few blips in a polygraph test.

Old reliables Annie Lennox, REM, Madonna and Sting demonstrated why seasoned professionals are so-called and the Scissor Sisters were suitably camp and entertaining. Robbie Williams returned to a London stage after a two-year absence and fans let loose two years of pent-up emotion. In between band-changes, we were treated to videolink performances by the manic Bjork in Live8 Japan, Duran Duran in Rome, Green Day in Berlin and Bon Jovi in Philadelphia.

Interspersed were images of ravaged Africa, including a picture of Birhan Woldu, shown 20 years ago to the audience at Live Aid, on the brink of death. She walked out of its shadows and on to the stage with Madonna to the rapture of the crowd in one of the show’s four highlights.

The Who and Pink Floyd, re-united after 24 years, and Brad Pitt’s hair provided the other three. As midnight approached and the crowd listened to Dave Gilmour sing the words “I have become comfortably numb”, they seemed to warn against complacency and served as a reminder of what we were really there for. To Make Poverty History.

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