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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Live 8 logic attracts criticism
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure
Five Live 8 concerts are being staged to fight African poverty
Blur frontman Damon Albarn has become the latest critic of next month's Live 8 concerts, saying they will perpetuate the idea of Africa as a "failing, ill" place.

He has followed several fellow musicians, teachers, black rights campaigners, police and an international aid charity in questioning the logic behind Bob Geldof's event.

Live 8 concerts will be staged in London, Edinburgh, Philadelphia, Paris and Rome in an effort to pressure G8 leaders to tackle debt in Africa.

Reviving memories of Geldof's 1985 Live Aid concerts, the new event will include performances by Coldplay, Madonna, U2, 50 Cent, Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney.

'Potentially hazardous'

Despite the popularity of Live Aid, widely recognised as an archetypal charity music concert, concerns about Live 8 were raised as soon as Geldof unveiled his plans.

Campaign group Black Information Link branded the London concert's line-up "hideously white" for having only one ethnic minority artist - Mariah Carey - among its 22 performers at that stage.

"It seems like the great white man has come to rescue us while the freedom fighters never get a mention," said black musician Patrick Augustus.

I do feel it's very patronising as an African artist that more of us aren't involved
Baaba Maal
Senegalese musician
Justin Onyeka, entertainment editor of the New Nation newspaper, added: "It was the same problem 20 years ago when major black artists were backing singers to other acts."

A Live 8 spokesman responded by saying numerous black artists were approached but many were unavailable, and that few black British artists were popular enough to attract a global audience.

R&B star Ms Dynamite, US rapper Snoop Dogg and Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour were subsequently added to the bill.

But N'Dour is the only major African artist due to perform at any of the five concerts.

Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney is one of Live 8's headline performers
Fellow Senegalese star Baaba Maal wrote in The Independent: "I do feel it's very patronising as an African artist that more of us aren't involved.

"If African artists aren't given a chance, how are they going to sell records and take the message back to Africa?"

Organisers have argued they must enlist the most popular global stars to get as many fans as possible to back their campaign.

"Bob Geldof's intention was to get headline-grabbing shows full of people who fill stadiums and arenas," a spokesman has said.

But 20 years of Live Aid-inspired charity concerts have also led to general cynicism about the latest poverty-fighting event.

"Once again, the hungry, terrorised, children of Africa are pooling their efforts to help others," wrote Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday.

Ms Dynamite
Ms Dynamite has been added to the London concert's line-up
"They will, once more, perform on our TV screens to help rescue the sagging reputations of that needy and deprived group of balding, clapped-out rock stars who still long for the crowds that once listened to them."

Geldof's call for a million supporters to march to Edinburgh on 6 July, the start of the G8 summit, caught authorities off guard.

Teachers were unimpressed by his call for pupils to "give up home and school for a week" to join the march, entitled The Long Walk to Justice.

Lothian and Borders Police said such a large influx of visitors would be "potentially hazardous" to a city with a population of 453,000.

But Geldof insisted: "Edinburgh is a highly sophisticated city and is able to take in large amounts of people and marshal them."

Geldof's method of putting pressure on leaders to improve aid, drop debts and ease trade restrictions in Africa was also queried.

There is a fire raging - we need someone to put out the fire not hand out chocolate
John O'Shea
International aid charity Goal
"You have got to maximise the publicity the involvement of someone like Geldof brings in a very focused way and I think harping on about the same thing is not as effective as it should be," said John O'Shea, chief executive of international aid charity Goal.

He told The Guardian newspaper Live 8 overlooked the need to tackle Africa's corrupt regimes and establish a UN peacekeeping army in Darfur, the Congo and northern Uganda.

"There is a fire raging - we need someone to put out the fire, not hand out chocolate," he said.

Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn touched upon all of these concerns on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday.

Damon Albarn
Albarn said record firms should donate profits from Live 8 acts
He also said record companies should donate a portion of the sales boost Live 8 will give them.

"All the artists that play there will enjoy increased record sales - if they play a good gig, they will benefit from it," the singer said.

Albarn said artists should put pressure on their record labels to "genuinely show this is an altruistic act and that there is no self-gain in it".

This week Geldof himself said he expected Live 8 protests to be "a glorious failure" because world leaders would "probably not" agree to all his demands on African poverty.


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