June 27, 2005
Peter Gabriel has mixed feelings over Live 8
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - He is fully behind Bob Geldof and hisLive 8 poverty awareness concerts, but musician Peter Gabrielbelieves African acts have been sidelined in the rush to securethe biggest names in rock.Former Genesis star Gabriel is holding a concert on July 2for African artists to coincide with the eight main gigs Geldofhas lined up across the globe to pressure world leaders intodoing more to alleviate poverty, especially in Africa.
Geldof has had to answer criticism in Britain that hefailed to include African bands in his lineups, and, while keento promote the positives of Live 8, Gabriel has hisreservations.
"I did speak to 'Chairman Bob' at some length about whatwould have been our preferred way of doing this," Gabriel toldReuters on Monday, jokingly referring to Geldof's reputation asbeing single-minded.
"His belief is that any artist unfamiliar to an audience inremote regions of the Arctic, China, or wherever they comefrom, is going to channel hop. I fully understand that, but Idon't agree with it.
"We asked for Bob's blessing (for the African gig) which hefreely gave; that was in his role as Pope," he quipped, beforeadding: "I'm a big fan of what he and Live 8 are trying to do."
Gabriel, a champion of lesser-known international acts formany years, would prefer to see more African musicians sharingplatforms in London, Philadelphia and other Live 8 venues withthe likes of U2, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.
But he added that his "Africa Calling" concert would stillsucceed in showcasing some of Africa's top musical talent.
"I think it may be the best African lineup assembled inEurope."
Despite a lower profile, the concert outside the giantgreenhouses of the Eden Project in southwest England, lookslikely to sell out.
As of last week around 25,000 people had applied for 10,000tickets to see artists including Angelique Kidjo of Benin, AyubOgada of Kenya and Daara J of Senegal. In comparison, more than200,000 are expected to gather for the main London concert.
Ogada agreed with Gabriel's reservations about Geldof'sapproach to Live 8, but also welcomed the event.
"I'm an African. All we want is results. The arguments areunimportant," he told Reuters, speaking in England.
"With this Eden concert we have a chance to take part. Alot of the times we are left out. Throughout our life outsidershave told us what we need, and noone has ever asked us."
Gabriel said that as well as putting pressure on Group ofEight leaders meeting in Scotland on July 6-8 to do more toalleviate poverty, he would like to see more done to stamp outcorruption in Africa.
"What I would like to see is pressure on the ICC(International Criminal Court) to include corruption in itsremit," he said.
He also called for a system of registering complaints ofcorruption made by African citizens against leaders and loggingany investigations that are launched.
"I would love to see more African-generated initiativeshighlighted, because by putting us (in the West) once again ina position of power, there is a subtext which may castrateAfrican initiatives," he said.
For more stories on the Live 8 concerts, please see theReuters special Web Site www.reuters.co.uk/live8