Live 8

The Age ran an interesting and quite critical piece on Live 8 yesterday.

One of its themes is a line that irritates me a little. The romanticisation of the idea of music ‘changing the world’. But the article does make the point that this time around, for all his scruffiness, Sir Bob is pretty much an establishment figure and that the concerts made only the most token efforts to involve those who were not mega-celebrities. This was a bit of a theme of commentary at the time (not many Africans on stage) and Bob was pretty vocally pissed off about the criticism.

Live 8 was also free for concert goes whereas tickets to the earlier concert raised money for aid. Now Geldof’s pitch was that this time it was different because this time policy and the pollies were targetted. Its fair enough and perhaps right that this be so. But I’m not sure that walking and chewing gum (targetting the pollies AND raising some cash oneself) mightn’t have been more rather than less than the sum of its parts. Surely people joining in to raise money and giving up something themselves adds engagement to the cause.

My impression – though there would have been people who have observed it a lot more closely than me – is that Live 8 came and went and is almost forgotten already in the many 24 hour news cycles that have followed it. It helped bring about a major policy change. I guess that’s the main thing because it should bring billions more dollars to Africa than Live Aid did. But somehow it’s made less of an impact on our consciousness than its forbear.

Even if I’m right in this criticism, I’m still a fan of Bob Geldof.

But I’d be interested in others’ thoughts.

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2024 years ago

It never gets mentioned much that a fair swag of the food aid sent to Ethiopia as a result of the Live Aid gigs was swiped by the then loathesome commie government, sold on and the funds used to buy ordnance to drop on the Eritreans. They also witheld and diverted donated food to use as a weapon. Geldof is a self-rightous dickhead, Bono a pompous wanker.
If they were raising funds to hire mercenaries to make assorted tin-pot dictators in Africa dissapear, they’d have my whole-hearted support.

Dirk Thruster
2024 years ago

Considering that some of these sanctimonious wankers like Bono and McCartney could put the debt of three or four African nations on their Visa card without maxing it out, I get pretty pissed off about their bleatings regarding the evils of The Greedy West.

2024 years ago

They are targetting pollies -> government -> our taxes; i.e., charity with someone else’s money. If they want to help they should start with their own pockets.

Andrew Bartlett
2024 years ago

I don’t know, but I think it’s a pretty fair bet that Geldof and Bono have both given a fair bit of money to charity over the years.

It is always healthy to assess the effectiveness of various actions, and Live 8 should be no exception, but to just slag people off and totally dismiss their actions (and sincerity) for trying to get more Govt action on African poverty is pretty feeble. This was about structural change rather than just money – whether or not it will succeed or not is another thing, but if it doesn’t I would suggest it won’t be Bono and Geldof’s fault.

There seems to be a growing trend to attack altruistic actions as being counter-productive and even somehow hypocritical. We are all hypocrits in that there is always more that we could be doing to back up our words and opinions, but that should never be used as an excuse for doing nothing.

Libe 8 has made less an impact than its predecessor on my conciousness too – but that may be because I’m older and more cynical (as I suspect the author of The Age article is). Some of the article reads like little more than ‘music today isn’t as good as it was in my day’, which is what I think too, but people who grew up in the 60s say the same about ‘their’ music. Good on Geldof for being sufficiently idealistic to still think that something like this might still be able to make a difference, despite all the naysayers and narks.

If he has brought about “billions of dollars more aid to Africa than Live Aid did” I suspect he’d prefer that, rather than just have a more ‘memorable’ event.

For an Age article with a somewhat more hopeful outlook, see Tim Colebatch’s piece at

Robert Merkel
2024 years ago

It’s hard to compare, because there wasn’t a Live 8 concert here, unlike the first time round. Australia has also been through a round of conspicuous international charity (the tsunami relief gigs of various sorts) fairly recently.

As far as the concerts themselves, who knows what it was like in the crowd, but the audio mixing for the television was appalling.

Mark Pollock
Mark Pollock
2024 years ago

There is a growing trend to attack altruistic gestures as counter-productive. It isn’t because of some innate cynicism or western welfare weariness. It’s because altruism so often has the opposite effect to that intended. PB points out that Colonel Mengistu, the Ethiopian kleptocrat swiped much of the largess from Band Aid. Not so, he swiped nearly all of it, and the transports that were to deliver it too. The famine in Ethiopia was caused by the war and the aid helped prolong the war and thus the famine.

A similar situation exists in nearly every state in Africa. People are starving because they are badly governed and western aid simply helps these bad governments maintain their grip on power. It rewards the people who are causing the problem and delays the implementation of the only possible solution a reasonably responsible and representative government.

Australian aid is mainly in the form of grants for specific projects