About Air and Water

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Live Earth climate gigs under way

by BBC - Saturday, 7 July 2007,
Phil Collins and Genesis were among the first acts at Wembley
Rock stars around the world are performing to thousands of music fans as part of the Live Earth day to highlight climate change.

Concerts in London, Shanghai, Johannesburg and Hamburg are under way, while events in Sydney and Tokyo have already ended.

Among the biggest names taking part are Madonna and The Police.

The day has been organised by former US Vice-President Al Gore, as part of his campaign to try to "heal the planet".

Reformed group Genesis, featuring Phil Collins, were among the first acts to perform at London's Wembley Stadium, starting their set with Turn it On.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Duran Duran and the Beastie Boys are due on stage later.

Sydney - 0110 BST (1110 local)
Tokyo - 0400 BST (1200 local)
Johannesburg - 1100 BST (1200 local)
Shanghai - 1130 BST (1830 local)
Hamburg - 1300 BST (1400 local)
London - 1330 BST
Washington - 1530 BST (1030 local)
New Jersey - 1930 BST (1430 local)
Rio de Janeiro - 2000 BST (1600 local)

Live Earth: Reporters' log
In pictures: Live Earth

Organisers say the gigs will reach an audience of two billion people via TV, radio and online broadcasts.

But critics have said it was hypocritical for performers who fly around the world on tours to push the message of cutting down on carbon emissions.

George Marshall of the Climate Outreach Information Network told the BBC: "Having the richest people in the world saying, 'Hey! We all need to cut back a bit!' is, let's face it, absurd."

The Sydney event began with a traditional aboriginal welcome before Mr Gore appeared on video screens to launch the worldwide initiative.

Australian politician and former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett also made an appearance, saying it was up to citizens of developed nations to push for action to reduce pollution.

"Your voice matters, make it heard," he said.

Reformed New Zealand group Crowded House were joined by many of the other Sydney performers at the end of their set, for a rendition of the 1991 hit Weather with You.

Lead singer Neil Finn told fans they were "the groundswell" for action on the environment.

'Heal the planet'

The Tokyo event was opened by the band Genki Rockets at the Makuhari Messe hall, east of the Japanese capital.

It's our goal to do what we can to make it possible for our kids to have a place to live

Mr Gore appeared as a hologram in front of the crowd, saying: "Now is the time to begin to heal the planet."

Among the performers in Tokyo was US metal group Linkin Park.

"I don't have any delusions of grandeur that Linkin Park is saving the world," bassist Phoenix told BBC News.

"But it's our goal to do what we can to make it possible for our kids to have a place to live, and, at the same time, hopefully clean up where we live in the process."

Neil Finn and Crowded House played to about 50,000 fans in Sydney

Japanese singer Ayaka urged people to do what they could. "We can start helping by doing something small," she said.

"I started to carry my own eco-bag so I don't have to use plastic grocery bags, and use my own chopsticks instead of disposable ones."

Responding to criticism that the event creates even more carbon emissions, organisers have insisted they were keeping the concerts as green as possible, with proceeds being spent on power-efficient light bulbs and other measures to offset the shows' emissions.

"We've booked this show with acts that were touring in the area at the time so we could keep the carbon imprint down," explained producer Kevin Wall.

Music from the Wembley concert is being broadcast live in the UK on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Radio 2.

See Live Earth photos from the BBC.

US capital to host Live Earth gig
Washington DC has been added as a venue for the series of Live Earth concerts, organised by former US Vice-President Al Gore to highlight climate change.
Country couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will be among the artists performing on The Mall in the US capital on Saturday.

Nine cities will stage gigs, including Sydney, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Hamburg, New Jersey and Rio de Janeiro.

Acts including Madonna, Duran Duran and the Beastie Boys will play in London.

And other stars lined up to play around the world include The Police, Lenny Kravitz, Kanye West and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Gore described Live Earth as a "global response" to a "global problem".

"By engaging individuals all over the world, Live Earth will drive corporations and governments to tackle the climate crisis," he said.

But there has also been scepticism about the value of the concerts from some quarters.

Critics say that flying rock stars in on aeroplanes and using a great deal of electricity to power several concerts sends out mixed messages about energy conservation.

"What would be great is if these pop stars - now they realise the damage we are all doing to the climate - look very carefully at their own actions and make some changes themselves," said John Buckley, managing director of the organisation Carbon Footprint.
Referring to Madonna, he told Reuters: "If she made a change then it would be picked up."

He calculated that the singer and her entourage emitted 444 tonnes of carbon dioxide on flights during last year's Confessions tour, more than 40 times the annual output of the average Briton.

Bob Geldof, who organised the Live Aid and Live8 charity concerts, has described the event as lacking a "final goal" and claimed most people already knew about the hazards of global warming.

And speaking to a British newspaper recently, The Who's Roger Daltrey said: "The last thing the planet needs is a rock concert."

Safety fears

Organisers have insisted they were keeping the concerts as green as possible.

Proceeds from ticket sales are going to distribute power-efficient light bulbs and other measures which will offset the shows' greenhouse gas emissions.

Doubts had been cast over whether the Rio de Janeiro gig would go ahead because of concerns about safety on Copacabana Beach, but organisers persuaded a judge that adequate measures were in place.

However, the Turkish event - in Istanbul - was shelved, owing to insufficient sponsorship and lack of time.

Live Earth will also broadcast two songs performed in sub-zero conditions in Antarctica by Nunatak, a rock group made up of five members of the British Antarctic Survey.

They have recorded their contribution in front of 17 colleagues against a backdrop of icebergs.

Where on Live Earth do you start?
By Fiona Pryor - Entertainment reporter, BBC News - Friday, July 6, 2007
He is sleeping four hours at most each night and says he is stressed out. But promoter Harvey Goldsmith is used to working under pressure.
The 61-year-old, one of the UK's most well-known music promoters, has been instrumental in organising high-profile concerts such as 1985's Live Aid and 2005's Live 8.

He is now co-coordinating eight Live Earth gigs, which will take place on Saturday in New York, London, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hamburg.

Slick and trouble-free

"Live Earth is an initiative to get people all over the world to focus their attention on our future and the climate," Mr Goldsmith says.

"If we don't do something about the future now, we won't have a future."

With acts such as Madonna, Lenny Kravitz and the Red Hot Chili Peppers due to perform to a worldwide audience, the pressure is on to deliver a slick and trouble-free series of shows.

So where does Mr Goldsmith start when it comes to organising such a huge global event?

"For me it's just having the right teams of people who understand what they're doing and can listen in a short space of time and get the job done," he says.

"You've got to secure the right venues, get the right permit, start to generate artists for each of the shows, think about ticket selling, decide what the message is all about, why are we doing the shows?

"Then there are 60 films that are being produced so we have got to make sure that each of them are translated into every local language," he explains.

Time zones

Despite this being a global event - with the workload multiplied by eight - time zones and language barriers have faded into the background.

"They don't go to bed like me," he laughs. "You start with Sydney and you end up with America. You go round the clock.

"In your mind you've got this 24-hour clock and because I've got so much experience of understanding that clock you mentally know what time it is in each country."

Asked what could go wrong, Mr Goldsmith reels off another long list.

"Satellite feeds can go down, changeovers are done in a rush, the sound breaking because someone has pulled a wire out by accident in a rush, and also sticking to timings," he says.

Surprisingly the only part of the gig he says that can be relied upon is the artists themselves.

Artist co-operation

"Once they agree to do it, they do it in the spirit that it's meant. I don't think I've ever had a problem with an artist," says Mr Goldsmith, who has worked with everybody from the Rolling Stones to Madonna.

"Once they agree to do it and they understand fully why they're doing it they always co-operate and they always do their very best to make it work."

With an overnight bag packed and his passport at the ready Mr Goldsmith is ready to fly to any venue if any last-minute problem arises.

But he is happier in his London office.

"It's better to be in one place that's central because as with Live 8 I'm in touch with everybody every 15 minutes," he says.

And with security measures making travel from UK airports difficult this week, he says going anywhere would be "a kiss of a death" for him.

With the clock ticking to the start of Live Earth, Mr Goldsmith is looking forward to seeking refuge and catching up on some well-earned sleep.

But he does not expect that to be until Sunday morning, once the final notes have been played in New York and Rio de Janeiro.

Read article on BBC website

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