Live 8 Bandwagon Rolls On

“We will announce Johannesburg tomorrow,” Bob Geldof told BBC News June 16th, presumably not realising the broadcaster would publish the quote immediately and thereby save him the bother.

With less than a couple of weeks to go, the Live 8 bandwagon rolled on as the announcement of shows in Toronto, Tokyo and Johannesburg was followed by a June 22nd piece in The Times announcing that sponsors including Nokia and AOL are helping to foot the bill.

The £3 million raised by text-message entries for the Hyde Park ticket lottery fell far short of what’s needed to stage the ever-growing number of July 2nd shows, but new money will help balance the books.

The Times report said Geldof has secured £2.75 million (US$5 million) to help underwrite the shows. The BBC has paid around £2 million for the British TV rights and Nokia and AOL have chipped in £8 million between them.

Nokia has signed a £5 million deal to become a global sponsor, while AOL will pay about £3 million to transmit the concerts via broadband and receive a number of corporate hospitality packages to offer guests.

Geldof has also been reported as denying that artists were being told not to criticise President Bush or U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. Apparently suggesting they follow his example, he said, “I don’t care what artists say or think. They can say what they like, and should.”

There’s also been some confusion about who is playing where: The Times reported British artists are being bumped from the Hyde Park bill to make way for big-name late additions and said Muse and The Cure have been transferred to Paris because the London show is restricted to seven hours.

Elsewhere, Italian newspapers and international newswires reported that Geldof is chiding Italian megastar Vasco Rossi for pulling out of the Rome show, although at press time Pollstar was not able to contact promoter Roberto de Luca to confirm the cancellation.

“Where’s Vasco? Vasco, where are you? We want Vasco. We need Vasco,” Geldof said to spontaneous applause from Italian reporters.

Rossi’s decision not to play was said to be due to him having a show in Ancona, on the other side of the country, on the same day.

“Vasco is a great star, a really great, great artist, and I think he should be on that stage. He won’t lose his voice; he’s only got to sing a couple of songs,” Geldof said as he pointed out that U2, Coldplay, Elton John, R.E.M., and Green Day are all playing their own concerts July 2nd – many in different countries – and still plan to perform at Live 8.

Lorenzo Jovanotti, another household name in Italian pop who has performed in the past to campaign against poverty, has also been reported as saying he would not agree to play Live 8 until he got more information about the Rome concert. Geldof said Jovanotti was right to want to find out more about the event and said he would speak to him personally.

On Pink Floyd reuniting to play the London Hyde Park show – the first time Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour will have been on stage together since their acrimonious split – Geldof said, “It’s bad enough to force a divorced man and wife to get back together. This is four people with four divorces.”

Referring to a recent Mason interview, Geldof added, “He said the only reason he could stand to get the band back together would be a new Live Aid.”

— John Gammon