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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July 2005, 03:07 GMT 04:07 UK
Live 8 stars thrill London fans
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

It was billed as "the biggest and best rock concert the world has ever seen" - and fans at the Live 8 gig in Hyde Park, London, were treated to an epic show.

Madonna at Live 8
Madonna got the crowd moving during her Live 8 set
The 200,000 people in Hyde Park never need go to another gig again - they have seen it all.

For 10 hours, the music legends came thick and fast, with the top, younger acts slotted in between.

U2's passion was followed by Coldplay's grandeur, which then gave way to the spectacular showmanship of Sir Elton John.

REM oozed emotion before Madonna forced the crowd up on their feet - and the highlights continued coming during a climax that featured Robbie Williams, The Who, Pink Floyd and Sir Paul McCartney.

It was exhausting. With five minutes between each act, there was barely time to gather your thoughts, let alone sit back and soak it up.

It was seat-of-the-pants stuff, but gigs like this do not come around very often - once every 20 years at the current rate, and this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

Pink Floyd at Live 8
Pink Floyd made a masterful comeback after 24 years
Most of the biggest names in British music from the last 40 years were there, as well as those from elsewhere

And they proved just why they have remained so popular.

Many stars who established themselves at the original Live Aid - such as U2, Madonna and Sting - came back to show they have still got what it takes.

Other veterans - Sir Elton, Sir Paul, The Who and the Floyd - went down a storm.

And those that have risen to superstardom since the original Live Aid - namely REM and Robbie Williams - also showed their best sides.

This day belonged to the oldies. Even Lenny Henry was funny again.

Despite the bravado and hype, the newer artists still have a lot of catching up to do.

It may just be that the older performers have been around for longer and their songs are more ingrained and familiar.

Pete Doherty at Live 8
Rocker Pete Doherty did a shambolic duet with Sir Elton John

The moments that will be revisited the most will be Madonna's crowd clap-a-long during Music, Robbie Williams getting mobbed by his fans in Angels, and dry ice shrouding Pink Floyd during Wish You Were Here, as if they might not actually have been there at all.

Only a couple of artists fell flat - Mariah Carey for being a diva and rock's current darling Pete Doherty for being shambolic during his duet with Sir Elton.

But some younger acts did take the chance to shine.

Razorlight turned on the charisma, the Scissor Sisters pumped up the fun factor and Joss Stone proved she was comfortable on the big stage.

London Live 8 crowd

With the standard so high, the audience managed to keep up with the pace of the day, their enthusiasm and energy levels seeing them through.

With 150,000 people in the main arena and another 50,000 watching screens in another part of the park, many did not even see their idols with their own eyes because they were so far away.

But big screens relayed the action across the site and most were just glad to be there, to be part of the event.

They were not allowed to forget the real reason for being there, though.

Decent balance

Although most admitted the main attraction was the bands, they were all fully signed up to the Make Poverty History cause.

Numerous bands sent their own messages to the G8, while Bob Geldof appeared to harangue us every now and again. Many of the visuals and videos on stage also incorporated Africa or the G8 leaders.

Organisers managed to strike a decent balance between getting the message across and still having fun.

It was a great day out - but when the dust has settled, will 200,000 people really have changed the world at the same time as watching their favourite bands?


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