Geldof Announces Five Live 8 Shows

Having stunned the world by announcing five free Live 8 shows, perhaps it wouldn’t be so much of a surprise if Bob Geldof did manage to persuade The Pope, The Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela to turn up.

Hours before the May 31 press conference at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel that gave the details of the July 2 shows in London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin and Rome, the U.K.’s The Times said Geldof would be inviting all three to attend or address the audiences via a satellite link.

After the press conference, Geldof told reporters in London that he had asked for the support of Pope Benedict XVI: “I think he should turn up. It would be his first gig.”

The high-profile shows are timed to happen just days before the G8 Summit for leaders of the world’s richest nations. Their purpose is to persuade those leaders that they must help Third World countries by wiping debt, increasing aid and helping them help themselves by increasing trade links.

The London show in Hyde Park – which will be put together by Live 8 worldwide producer Harvey Goldsmith – has the most acts confirmed and includes Madonna, R.E.M., U2, Robbie Williams, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Sting, Dido, Coldplay, Keane, Razorlight, and Muse.

When asked if The Spice Girls might reform to play the London show, Geldof told BBC News, “I spoke to them this morning. It looks very good. That’s all we can say.”

The Philadelphia concert, which will take place at the city’s Museum of Art, will be produced by Larry Magid of Electric Factory Concerts and so far has Will Smith, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, and Il Divo.

In mainland Europe, Jackie Lombard of Interconcerts is still in the process of confirming a Paris venue but has already secured the services of Craig David, Jamiroquai, Placebo, and Andrea Bocelli.

Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur will be promoting the Berlin show at Strasse 17, adjacent to The Brandenburg Gate and The Reichstag, and has already got a-ha, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Lauryn Hill, Brian Wilson, Die Toten Hosen, Reamonn, Bapp, and Sasha.

Lieberberg, who is still negotiating for even more top German talent to join his bill, told Pollstar, “I have been asked by my friend Bob Geldof to promote the German Live 8 event. I accepted this difficult task because I fully support his remarkable initiative and the need for a radical change of the G8 policy.

“Rock music and the artist community accompanied the changes in society and the call for more democracy at the end of the ’60s and early ’70s. Today, again we need to mobilise our societies with the help of our finest musicians and their hymns, which should remind us about common rights and our responsibility for the less fortunate people in the world.

“Hopefully, the Live 8 events will create more than just a moment of awareness and initiate necessary changes.”

The Rome show at Circus Maximus will be put together by Clear Channel Entertainment‘s Roberto de Luca. He’ll be adding acts to a bill that has top Italian headliners Vasco Rossi, Laura Pausini, and Jovanotti.

Goldsmith was on BBC Radio 5 Live’s morning news show explaining that this time – unlike the original Live Aid – the event won’t be about raising money, but raising awareness.

“We don’t want your money, we want your voice,” he told listeners.

“You have the opportunity to deal with a continent that’s dying. We hope July 2 will be a launchpad for G8 to follow through on.”

He said the setting-up of the five-show spectacular had begun three weeks ago, although the press had actually begun speculating about long before that.

All five shows, which are attracting major sponsorship, will be broadcast live and also have feeds sent into London to enable everybody to see and hear everything.

Geldof responded to questions about what the public should do after the concerts (20 years ago, he urged fans to continue giving money after Live Aid) by saying, “Go to Edinburgh,” a reference to the Make Poverty History campaign that is being staged in the city July 6.

The day of the press conference, The Daily Telegraph ran a front page story saying Geldof wanted to see 1 million people join the Long March To Justice that finishes in the city on that day – double Edinburgh’s population. The summit is being held 50 miles further north at Gleneagles, but police and security forces have launched a £50 million operation to keep the place free of terrorists and protesters.

John Gammon