Live 8 for the G8 – report from Barrie, Ontario

By  Joe Curtis

The Live 8 concerts are over, and the world may never be the same — in a good way. Sir Bob Geldof, responsible for 1985’s Live Aid extravaganza, also spearheaded July 2, 2005’s, Live 8 event. It is hoped the G8 nations meeting in Scotland will agree to cancel the national debt of the many poverty-stricken countries in Africa and increase the continent’s financial and medical assistance. Microsoft’s Bill Gates appeared at Live 8 in London to lend his support and share his hope for better healthcare and a brighter tomorrow for everyone. Nelson Mandela appeared in Johannesburg, South Africa, to echo similar feelings of hope and insight. 

Partway through this 12-hour music extravaganza, in London, Geldof introduced the world to a beautiful 20-year-old African girl who recently graduated from Agricultural school. He showed a photo of her on the huge screen, from 20 years ago, when she was a baby and had only five minutes to live. She’s now healthy, happy and educated through Live Aid intervention. She was joined on stage by Madonna, who then sang some of her hits.

London’s Live 8 show began with Sir Paul McCartney singing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Afterward U2’s Bono sang a heartwarming “Unchained Melody,” Sting sang his always enjoyable “Message In A Bottle,” and Sir Elton John sang an upbeat “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” while accompanying himself on piano.

The Who’s London performance was spectacular. Pete Townshend’s guitar playing continues to amaze and delight. The same can be said of the rare reuniting of Pink Floyd, who performed a mesmerizing “Money.” Mariah Carey also entranced the London crowd with her beautiful singing as did U.K. newcomer Joss Stone.

Philadelphia-born Will Smith appeared in his hometown to offer support for Africa. So did Stevie Wonder, whose vocals and piano were exhilirating!

Dan Aykroyd and Tom Green were the very funny, upbeat hosts of Canada’s Barrie, Ontario, Live 8. Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder opened Barrie’s show with some rousing songs and wise words. Bryan Adams also appeared in Barrie and sang his heart out, as did Blue Rodeo and Sam Roberts. Celine Dion also appeared in Barrie via satellite, from Las Vegas with her lively stage show.

Some traditional African bands were also on the Barrie bill, including recent Juno winners African Guitar Summit featuring Donne Robert and Madagascar Slim (both from Madagascar), who wowed the crowd. Another great African band was K’Naan from Somalia.

Deep Purple rocked the crowd with energized versions of “Highway Star” and “Smoke On The Water.” Great Big Sea, from Newfoundland, lost their instruments at a U.S. airport but still showed up in Barrie, despite that setback, to sing vocal group harmony versions of some of their tunes, which the crowd loved!

McCartney reappeared again in the evening in London to perform a deeply moving “Long And Winding Road” and “Hey Jude.” He was one of the special highlights of Live 8, as was Canada’s Gordon Lightfoot in Barrie. Lightfoot sang a couple of his memorable hits including the romantic “If You Could Read My Mind.” He joined fellow prolific songwriter/performer Neil Young along with Young’s wife Pegi on stage with all the other Barrie performers. Their vocal harmonies backed Neil and his band in the finale to Canada’s Live 8, “Rockin’ In The Free World.” This Young classic might easily become the theme, dream and hope for Live 8 and the G8 — reflecting the happiness and peace this world deserves — as Louis Armstrong so aptly put it years ago when he sang “Wonderful World”!

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