The musical highlight of Live8, no doubt, was Pink Floyd reforming momentarily to perform for the first time in 24 years.

In another worrying example of time just flying by, the ten concerts held simultaneously to persuade political leaders to make poverty history took place on this date four years ago.

The leaders of the eight richest nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and USA – followed the festivities by pledging, at Gleneagles, to double aid to poor nations by 2010, half of which would go to Africa.

Figures show that, in fact, the G8 have only delivered one third of the additional assistance promised, despite being two thirds of the way towards their deadline.

By the end of this year they will have only delivered about half of what they promised, with Italy and France responsible for 80% of the shortfall.

This is because France cut aid to Africa last year and Italy has delivered only 3% of the aid increase it promised.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some 34 million more children in African schools, an estimated three million people on life-saving AIDS treatment, and death rates from malaria have more than halved in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Zambia.

The next G8 Summit will be held in L’Aquila, Italy, from 8 July.

Despite agreeing with many of the cynical sentiments expressed in articles by Michel Chossudovsky and Ann Talbot, who insist that the events were more a profit-making exercise for its corporate sponsors than a means of averting yet another avoidable humanitarian disaster, I like to believe that Live8 truly did increase awareness and turned apathy into activism in some quarters.

Yes, the 10 concerts cost £25 million to stage (the cost in terms of carbon emissions is something else, of course), performers at the Philadelphia gig received obscenely inappropriate gifts and the CD sales of the performers boomed (David, I think it only fair to point out, was the first to promise that any such profits would be donated to charity and encouraged others to follow his example).

What do you think of Live8 now: Success or failure? PR stunt or genuine political mass movement? Did you wear a white wristband, rumoured to have been made in a Chinese sweatshop? Did you wonder where all the black performers were performing that day? And what of the broken promises of financial assistance?

Your thoughts on any of this, and the rest, please.

As an aside, if you have yet to read David’s recollections of the 1969 moon landings – entitled “My moon-landing jam session”, in today’s Guardian – you can find them here. That’s certainly a topic for later this month, though.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

36 thoughts on “Live8”

  1. I think it is not realistic to expect much money to be raised at such an expensive, high-profile event. I agree with F*Ed that the real benefit here was the awareness raised. That stated, I think it is despicable that so little has come of big promises from nations like France and Italy that have so much. I am a teacher; in the world of education the worst thing you can do is fail to follow through on a promise. When you make a promise, you make it a priority to keep that promise.

    When sales of Pink Floyd records went up, David showed us yet again what a class act he is by promising to give the proceeds to charity.

    Success or failure? I say that’s a tough call. The event succeeded in raising awareness, which is a big start, and it got promises from certain nations that followed through. In other ways? Each person will have to judge this for him- or herself.

  2. That is certainly an excellent article in The Guardian by David Gilmour about “Moonhead”, their music that was aired during the moon landing. As an American, I don’t have access to European articles like this unless I do a search, etc., so I would have probably never read David’s comments about that time and how it affected Pink Floyd in the future. I have heard “outer spacey” Pink Floyd music and wondered if it was really The Floyd, although their sound is always recognizable as David said in the article.

    A good performance I found just a few days ago that is “outer spacey sounding” by David is from the DVD premiere. I think it is extraordinary. Very brilliant in every way.

    As for Live8, of course the reunion of Pink Floyd (had it been 24 years???) was a huge significant thing for all fans. As far as if the charity monies was a rip off or not, I don’t have the knowledge that David has about the venues and how they spent their money. I do agree that because of the concerts a lot of good came out of it in Africa, but there is no excuse for France, and especially Italy.

    I think Bob Geldof said it best:

    “Poor, sad Italy. That their economy is in such a disastrous meltdown condition, they must steal from the poor, rob the ill and snatch education from the minds of the young not only beggars the imagination but must also surely beggar the soul of that most beautiful country. Shame on you. Your government disgraces you.”


    1. There is no doubt our government is disgracing us, but that government has been elected by the people, so, who’s to blame, in the end?

      I feel very disappointed when I think about it.

  3. It’s depressing isn’t it?

    I bet I’m not the only one here who contributed to famine relief every week at junior school and at church. I have vivid memories of starving African children.

    There must be more than a few of us here who are over fifty years old. I feel that the hope I felt that my generation could make a difference and end the daily tragedy, has been killed off. I don’t expect I’ll be here in another fifty years but I bet poverty and inequality will be.

    I know it’s a case of don’t give up, all our voices can make a difference. Those of us with a lot of life experience/observation have a duty almost to teach the younger ones how to make a difference. I do feel that anything which raises awareness is useful so feel Live 8 was a positive event.

    Do you know what worries me greatly? The modern human being has been here for several thousands of years. Our body and brain evolved to live in a more primitive type of environment. We might have only ever seen one disaster in our lifetime. Technology of the last say, 500 years has allowed us to know a lot more about other humans in very far away countries and now to the point of knowing virtually immediately. We surely have not in the space of 500 years evolved sufficient psychological strength to witness such suffering, brutality, disaster, war as we do. How do we cope with it?

    We probably block it out and much more than we would admit even to ourselves. I fear we are becoming very uncaring.

    ash 🙁

  4. Hello Fed, very good questions and I’m not sure there are any real answers.

    Personally I think it was a success, as you said just for making people more aware. I think most artists do give back in some form or another. It did give us one last opportunity to see the world’s most interesting band perform one more time and I will always remember that but most importantly the cause that moved them to do this gig.



  5. Even if they only made $10.00 for a cause, that would be $10.00 they didn’t have before…

    Yes! It was a good thing, regardless of any negative points that can possibly be made about it.

    So you have a massive concert that cost millions to produce… let’s face it, without the show you have nothing to begin with.

    1. I agree.

      People will only go along or watch at home if it’s worth their while.

      Pink Floyd stole the show.

  6. Promises, promises and perhaps only one person came through for sure.

    Politicians are still crooks. Just as bad as drug dealers.

  7. How on earth can it be four years since that day? Incredible how time flies… 😮

    Live8 itself had many wonderful moments, that when I think back still have the power to move me – some cheesier than others, admittedly. When Bono let the doves free in Beautiful Day, for example, it just seemed such a strong moment to me and my chums standing in Hyde Park.

    Whilst I think it called many to question things at the time, I doubt that much has really changed. Governments are always slow to react to things, irrespective of what they actually say. With global issues, many appear to wait for others to do something rather than really taking the lead on matters…

  8. Sorry for my disappearance, but my work does not give me enough free time.

    For me Live8 was one of the best concerts of the last years. It’s beautiful when a lot of artists come back to play for a good cause. And the reunion of Pink Floyd for me is one of the things that has permitted to know best the event.

    The bad side of the event is that some countries did not keep the promise… unfortunately one of these is Italy, my country. 🙁

    I do not follow much politics and surrounding, but I don’t understand some positions of my government.

    Bye Bye.

    P.S. I see in David’s website that the Astoria house boat is under renovation. I’d like it if this event will be followed and, if possible, to see also something inside and outside after the renovation. 🙂

  9. I don’t think I am at all surprised to hear that the G8 have not delivered on their promises. I think that just about sums up the state of the world today.

    Lot of different things flashing through my mind at the moment, so trying to think back four years and put something coherent and relevant down is not appearing to be very easy.

    I think at the time, I was sceptical. I think there was a desperation to try and recreate Live Aid, and that the constant comparisons to that event almost doomed it before it began. I wasn’t around at the time of Live Aid – well I was 2 – so I don’t know if the idea of that event was to put pressure on that government, but I rather have the idea it was more of a ‘screw you, we’ll do it ourselves’ kind of attitude. I think I would have been more receptive to that kind of idea. The Live8 shows, whilst special, and to some extent meaningful, just weren’t ever going to have the desired effect, and I don’t know that any one event will ever have the desired effect – yes, it was multiple events on one day, but still just one event. I think if we are to be taken seriously then these concerts need to be happening more often – let the government know we are not going to drop it. The problem of course is if they are more often, they mean even less.

    That’s me putting a bit of a downer on proceedings, I have to say I watched the whole event, I did wear a wristband, and I do support the sentiments and do support aid to the third world.

    I also have to say it is commendable the way David Gilmour donated all the extra profits to charity – but to be honest, it’s pretty disgusting that anyone took a fee for the gig, don’t you think?

    That sort of thing really pisses me off because let’s be honest, if the celebs really cared, they could donate huge sums of money to the cause, but instead they get paid for the gig and expect us to donate! I doubt that is a popular opinion, and I am not so stupid to think that Bono is going to give all his cash to help his various causes, but, I dunno, why not donate the proceeds of their next album to charity? Not just u2 – why not have a year of album sales going to charity (shame they’re in decline eh?) – all just pie in the sky ideas of course.

    All in all, I don’t think Live8 was the success it could have been.

    I might even go so far as to say that the reformation of Pink Floyd may have detracted slightly from the events (wow, that is definitely going to be unpopular). Don’t get me wrong, I was the happiest guy ever to see them reform and play – and it did generate attention for the event, but was it the right attention?

    Are we going to keep having these kind of events or are we going to try a different tactic?

    1. Quality comment, Rob.

      I don’t think anyone took a fee as such for appearing (I may be wrong), but there were various privileges to be gained from performing. Album sales, to use that awful phrase, ‘went through the roof’: Pink Floyd’s were up by a staggering 1,343%, by all accounts.

      I must say I applauded Damon Albarn’s comments. If anything, acts should have been charged for taking part, he said.

      It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the other problem which would arise if these concerts happened more often is that corporate sponsors would enrich themselves further and the punters like you and I – straining to see over the Pimm’s-sippers in the VIP enclosure – would become even more cynical. Maybe we’d even tighten our purse strings and not pay any attention to benefit gigs in future, which would be upsetting.

  10. You shouldn’t have started me on this Fed. 🙂

    I felt very gloomy and pessimistic last night. I felt more hopeful again this morning and remembered an(other) article I read in a science magazine about Altruism. I went in search of the article and couldn’t find the specific one, however, there is some great reading here.

    Scroll down before using the search facility when you get to the page, because some of the articles are really interesting.

    Look for articles on anger and altruism or war and altruism, things that appear to be conflicting (looking for a word like ethics or moralities, sorry, mind has gone blank). 🙂

    Anyway, I’ve decided that humans are fundamentally good but there ARE freeloaders and selfish people that need to be brought into line for the greater good.

    ash 🙂

    1. Ash,

      you link is very interesting. I’ll try to read all the articles when I have time. 🙂

  11. As I’ve already told you in the past, talking about other topics, at present and since some years, I completely disagree with my country’s policies and here is another reason to be upset.

    That 3% is a shame, but it’s perfectly coherent with their intention to give more and more money to the rich and leave the poor (Italian poor, too) without any assistance.

    The G8 in L’Aquila makes me sick.

    They’re exploiting the tragedy to increase their popularity and power, pretending they’re actually interested in the future of our country, while they’re clearly only interested in keeping their privileges, eluding the laws and preventing any protest.

    As Berlusconi said in this interview, no-global won’t try to protest in a place so heavily hit by the earthquake.

  12. Hello FEd and mates,

    I remember perfectly this movie! I was 14 and – in Italy – Tito Stagno (a TV journalist) was the magic voice “from the moon”.

    I really don’t know why, but those images are strictly connected on my mind with a part (I’m not able to identify what…) of Pink Floyd music that I’ve got in some place of my brain, so it was a huge emotion reading David’s memories about the moon first walking… unbelievable!

    I’m leaving to Milano (for my job) and this night I’ll be at PF Ballet in La Scala Theatre… full immersion in “my” music.

    Have a great weekend,

  13. Sorry, I completely forgot to talk about Live8, which was the main topic. :v

    Apart from some artists’ intention to keep the profits for themselves, I guess Live8 helped to raise people’s attention.

    Maybe it shouldn’t be so, but I think, today, some people are more inclined to listen to what a musician or an artist tells them, than all the words of some false politicians.

    Unfortunately, not all artists are sincere and we know some of them are more interested in their egos, than in poverty, but I don’t think there is a way to avoid it, because the world is full of egotists.

    Apart from that, I think Live8 gave a good message to the people, so I can’t consider it a failure. I never hoped it would have been enough to change the world, anyway.

  14. Dear F.Ed. and mates,

    so many times I’ve heard documentaries having as theme music one of PF’s ones, like “Time” or “Money” and it’s remarkable that the very popular Italian TV program “90°minuto” about every Sunday’s football-matches has as theme music “One of These Days” since many, many years.

    I hope to be lucky to listen to this very special work Moonhead. At that time I was nearly 7 but I remember very well that night!

    Let’s cross our fingers for the next G8.

    Have a nice weekend,
    bye /ciao Elisabetta

  15. I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since Live 8 now!

    It was such a special gig, and although I support the cause, I was there for the music which was really fantastic.

    To see Pink Floyd was absolutely staggering and one of the best moments of my life.

    It was also the first of the many times my dad and I have seen David together and a pretty good way to begin, I’d say.

    (Apologies for all the hyperbole but it was really amazing!)

  16. 😀 I’m new to this. I just wanted to pop by and say how much I adore David and the recent concert at The Union was wonderful.

    I can’t believe it’s four years since Live 8 either. Time passes by so quickly… as the song goes, I saw PF at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park almost 30+ years ago. Where has the time gone? But if I close my eyes, I go back there and relive not only the Rainbow concert but all the concerts I have been lucky enough to attend and the wonderful memories and photographs I have of PF and David.

    I’m welling up, I am.

    Best wishes and love from
    Fat Old Sunny One xxxx

  17. I think Live8 was a bit too idealistic to have the impact hoped, but it did raise awareness somewhat. The problem is that you can’t get international governments to come to a consensus on anything. Never mind fair trade and climate change, you can’t even get everyone to agree that the Holocaust happened. Combine this with the significant deficits many countries are facing and it is no surprise that governments are not working together to help someone else.

  18. I remember my excitement when I was waiting for Pink Floyd ‘s performance late at night in front of my TV screen.

    I read the article by Michel Chossudovsky, I was not surprised at all, a lot of truth, surely, of course the events were ‘a profit-making exercise for its corporate sponsors’ , but I have no problem with that, if it’s the only way to make the events big enough to raise people/politician leaders awareness, better that than nothing.

    The thing I don’t agree with is when he says that “the concerts served to usefully distract public attention from the US-UK led war on Iraq”. Silly.

    As for the fact that the G8 have not delivered on their promises, I have read less pessimistic reports/articles in the past, like this one (dated December 2008).

    Of course there is that global economic crisis that we can’t deny these days.

    France cut aid to Africa last year? Shame on you, France.

    I didn’t know about that, I made some research and found an official denial of what ‘One’s Data 2009 Report’ claimed, by French Government on their official site. Sorry, couldn’t find it in English. Here it is.

    Of course they explain that France’s aid to Africa has never been higher and will continue in that way, trying to explain for example the difference between ‘bilateral aid’ (from One’s report)and ‘multilateral aid’…

    So, who can I trust? 😐


  19. Hi,

    I won’t talk about Italian policies, because it’s not the right place and sincerely, I’m disgusted by all the politics, if there was another government it would do the same in regards of what I’ve just read above. I hope my government will keep the promise and give money to help African people. So, I’ve studied many books at University about the tragedy of Africa and I don’t know whether all the people are aware of what happens in Africa or not. Almost all the money our countries give to Africa are in the hands of dictators who use it absolutely not for the good causes,”Bob Geldof in Africa”is just an example of what happens there…

    I think people are getting less and less confident in giving money for charity, I’ve personally had a bad experience, there are many associations which take advantage of poor people and that’s disgraceful. The reason why I’ve always admired David is that he helps people with his heart and he doesn’t do it in order to appear, he simply wants to give a hand to those who really need it.

    P.S. Off-topic: I’ve just found out that Elisabetta lives only 25 km from my town! Ciao Elisabetta, buona giornata!

    Fed, you really deserved the prize you won last year for the best music blog, this is a great blog and I’m proud to be one of its bloggers. Have a nice day everybody.


    1. I’m very glad that you’re one of our bloggers, Piero; you always make me smile with your kind words. Thank you.

    1. :)) I have.

      ‘Hey You’ is plain creepy, don’t you think? More part of a horror film score than something soothing to put your bundle of joy down to.

    2. yeah, hey you is a bit scary. but i have to say on the whole i found it very enjoyable, so much so i might even buy it.

      er, for stella of course. 😛

  20. Like everyone else, I can’t believe that it’s been four years already since Live 8, but I’m not particularly surprised that it seems to have had little impact.

    It was a great concert (despite some rather dull performers, the last couple of acts more than made up for them) but it was little more than that. Even at the time, it’s aim if I remember correctly was to try to influence the G8 leaders. It was trying to recreate Live Aid but didn’t have an aim that was as clear. Concerts can be great for raising money for charity, but are they any good at influencing world leaders?

    I can’t help but feel that Live 8 was more for the benefit of Geldof’s ego than Africa. As Rob said earlier, it would be nice if some of the celebs could lead by example a bit more. At Live Aid they wanted us to give our money directly, at Live 8 they wanted Governments to give money, but where does the government get the money from? Us. It can get a bit annoying when all these rock stars who live in tax havens tell us what we should do with our hard earned money.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t include David, or indeed any member of Pink Floyd, in that category. Some, hopefully many, were doing it for the right reasons, but unfortunately not all of them were.

    I can’t help but feel that quite a few people wouldn’t give to charity unless the world’s media was watching them do it. Fortunately there are people like David to redress the balance between true caring musicians and the fame seeking ones.

    1. At Live Aid they wanted us to give our money directly, at Live 8 they wanted governments to give money, but where does the government get the money from? Us.


      Live8 made the rich richer, nothing more.

      Viva Fidel!

    2. Live8 made the rich richer, nothing more.

      Viva Fidel!

      Viva Fidel.

      The cynic in me wants to add that it also made the rich feel (too) good about themselves. However, the easy-going, open-minded liberal in me immediately wants to know what’s so bad about feeling good about ourselves every once in a while; most of the time we feel like crap, anyway.

      My laptop battery’s imminent death unfortunately prevents me from attempting to justify contemptuous thoughts whilst trying not to use the words ‘elitist’, ‘patronising’ and ‘millions dying’.

      Good job, too.

  21. I really can’t believe time has passed so quickly! I was down in Hyde Park last weekend and I suddenly realised it was so long ago I had watched all those bands playing there on TV.

    Of course the key moment I remember was Pink Floyd, I stayed up late that night, watching it over and over. But of course, there were far more important matters underlying the spectacle, all of which seemed to be forgotten by most of those involved almost instantly.

    I’ll never forget the day I heard David had donated all his earnings to charity, I did, and still do have the greatest respect for him doing so. I only hope some others followed his example…

    Unfortunately though, on the whole, it seems it was more a PR stunt than a mass movement. People generally seemed more interested in the music and the spectacle of being there, rather than what it was in aid of.

    I guess it’s difficult to organise things for charity these days, whilst keeping the message part of the event – people get annoyed and/or bored when there’s an “issue” involved, so I guess they have to tone it down a bit.

    Bob Geldof needs to write another blatantly obvious song again, methinks… 🙂

  22. Rather late to this topic. By coincidence I rewatched some of the DVD just last week.

    I enjoyed the day, watched the whole thing from beginning to end and felt inspired by the idea of it.

    Of course I was excited by the anticipation of the PF performance and kind of relieved that they nailed.

    I wore a wristband for a few months without being particularly aware of who made it.

    If raising awareness was the primary objective then I cannot see how Live8 could be described as anything other than a success. After all we’re talking about it 4 years on, aren’t we? The fact that we are talking about a partial delivery on the promises says two things:

    1) Partial is better than none.
    2) It’s on the agenda and people have a right/responsibility to hold their leaders to account.

    The fact that it was a big rock show is essentially what created that excitement and momentum that the G8 felt they had at least to be seen to respond to… whether honest failure, over-ambitious promises or disingenuous “shystery”, the fact is it got on the agenda.

    I’m slightly dismayed at suggestions that the cost – financial or in emissions – has anything much to do with it – this was not a fundraiser and in my experience the better rock gigs involve quite a lot of electricity.

    I also never got the “lack of black artists” thing, which was a typical misanthropic gripe at the time. I’m running out of characters but I’m happy to respond who anyone who wonders why.

  23. Hi FEd,

    As far as Live8 being a success, I really don’t know. I don’t think it lived up to everyone’s expectations to raise awareness.

    The problem with these kinds of things is that too much of it is based on emotions – which are momentary and fleeting. It tugged at people’s hearts, but it was short-lived.

    No one should be surprised that the governments come up short – it’s a miracle that they gave any at all.

    Live8 definitely gained steam and publicity after the PF announcement, no doubt. But, it was a double-edged sword. It did bring more attention, but the PF ‘reunion’ distracted from the goal. I believe the end result was more positive than if PF (with or without Roger) had not been a part.

    On a personal note, it was great to see PF together again, and hopefully the process brought some closure and began a journey to repairing relationships for the band. Now with Syd and Rick both gone, it’s it’s a stark reminder that life isn’t perpetual and sooner or later it will be too late to right the wrongs.

  24. Olá…

    Não sei se Live8 continua sendo sucesso!!

    Acredito que as pessoas se tornaram mais consciente após reunião de grandes artistas, como Pink Floyd… A causa é imensamente humanitaria!

    Somos todos humanos e deveriamos, tratar a todos com igualdade e respeito. Na Africa, Zambia… ou Italia, Reino Unido…

    Estamos de passagem por aqui, e cedo ou tarde, teremos que prestar conta do que fizemos…

    Temo que para a natureza ou para algum humanos carentes… seja tarde!

    Deveria ter milhões de Live8 em todo planeta… e assim quem sabe!! Todas as crianças terem um prato comida, ou um copo de agua, ou saude, ou proteção, ou educação, ou carinho, ou… :/

    “A voce David Gilmour meu eterno amor!”

    Rosangela / Brasil. :v

    P.S. Quando irá retornar a Inglaterra os containers com toneladas de lixo que foram depositados em meu país (Brasil)?? 😡

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