Reflections on Live8

Yes I sat at home most of Saturday and watched Live8 with particular emphasis obviously on the Canadian portion of the global extravaganza and these are a few thoughts I had about the event:

The Cause

The intention of Live8 is to focus the public’s attention on poverty in Africa and specifically to urge the G8 nations (United States, Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia) to forgive the massive debt that most African countries owe them and to commit to contributing .7% of their GDP to third world aid. I personally have no problem supporting this goal but as some Africans themselves have pointed out, giving more aid to the same corrupt leaders so that they can afford more Mercedes limousines doesn’t exactly solve the problem of poverty as it neglects the real root issues causing such widespread poverty in the first place. Fair enough. Certainly the African blogosphere has a bit of a different take on the event as a whole and the Blog Herald nicely summarizes their feelings towards the event but at the very least it is important that we understand the issues from all sides and delve beyond the sound bites and effective but simplistic ads (one of which is featured on this very site) in order to at the very least become aware of what is happening in Africa even as we struggle to come to terms with how we can effectively help. Ignorance is not bliss.

The Concerts

While I enjoyed some of the performances I have to admit that I am getting tired of the same old white rockers strapping on the guitars for yet another cause they might very well forget about by next month. Of course since that’s what attracts the most eyeballs I suppose it’s a neccessary evil so for me the highlights included:

  • Pink Floyd – while their performance certainly was nothing to write home about, the significance of Roger Waters reuniting with the rest of the band was quite significant in rock and roll terms. If they decide to finally pack up the inflatable pigs and circular screens, at least the circle is now complete. And the tribute to Syd Barett was classy and appropriate. Well done.
  • Neil Young – The man will forever make Canada proud.
  • The Tragically Hip – Gord and the boys, though marred by awful sound rocked out.
  • U2 and Paul McCartney kicking things off with Sergeant Peppers – Very cool way to start the show although I would have been more impressed if Macca had joined up with somebody like Sloan or heck even Oasis.
  • Jet – Good ol’ fashioned rock and roll.
  • Celine Dion being booed – It was a beautiful sight.
  • Green Day – I have liked these guys from the get go and now my son likes them as well. Still a great band but why all these covers of Queen songs?
  • R.E.M. – Cool band, weird Stipe make-up, still great.
  • Brian Wilson – Nice to see Mr. Wilson getting the recognition he deserves. What would have happened if he had finished Smile in the ’80s instead of now? No “Kokomo”?

You know, in a lot of ways events like these are superficial to some extent since a majority of the people there are there for the music and not the message but still, can it really be argued that doing nothing at all is the better alternative? I’m not so sure about that.