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Live 8 -- 'Biggest Show On Earth' -- Kicks Off


2 July 2005 -- It's been billed as the greatest music show ever. The series of Live 8 concerts, aimed at pressuring world leaders to tackle poverty in Africa, kicked off today in Tokyo.

Concerts will follow in other cities across the world, including Johannesburg, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, London, and Philadelphia.

Some 100 stars are appearing at the 10 concerts across the world today.

The biggest is likely to be in London's Hyde Park, where 200,000 people have tickets to watch some 30 performances by icons such as Madonna and Pink Floyd.

There, former Beatle Paul McCartney and rock group U2 are expected to open the show with the Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which begins with the line "It was 20 years ago today."

That's a reference to the original Live Aid charity shows of 1985. Like today's concerts, they too were largely the brainchild of Irish rock star and charity campaigner Bob Geldof.

But there's a difference. Live Aid was about raising money for Ethiopian famine victims.

Live 8 is about raising awareness that much still needs to be done to tackle poverty in Africa -- and about pressuring world leaders to act.

In a few days' time, leaders of the Group of Eight major industrialized countries meet in Scotland, and Live 8 organizers hope to pressure them into striking a deal on debt relief, aid, and fairer trade for Africa.

In a linked event, thousands of protesters are marching in the Scottish capital Edinburgh today, and Geldof has urged music fans to travel there after the London concert.

In Philadelphia, Live 8 executive producer Tim Sexton says the campaign is already having an impact.

"If you notice [U.S.] President [George W.] Bush's action [Thursday] to increase aid to Africa, the G-8 leaders around
the world are starting to agree on this whole question of debt relief and this issue is now at the forefront. People know about it," Sexton said.

But in Africa, many are skeptical that Live 8 will bring real change.

In Johannesburg, shoe trader Bafana Nkonyana watched final rehearsals.

"Yeah, I've got hope, but we don't longer have trust because things keep being promised but they don't happen," Nkonyana said.

Today's shows end in Philadelphia, but Geldof's "Long Walk to Justice" campaign ends with a final concert on 6 July in the Scottish capital.

(Agencies)
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