July 3, 2005

Bjork rocks, but did Live 8 Tokyo crowd get point?

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese rock fans flocked to Tokyo'sLive 8 concert on Saturday, but it was Icelandic singer Bjorkmore than the more serious message about poverty that seemed tobe the main draw.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to turn up to10 concerts across four continents in what is billed as thegreatest live music show ever staged. Whether they come for themusic, the message, or both, remains to be seen.

Organizer Bob Geldof hopes the event will put pressure onworld leaders meeting in Scotland next week to do more toalleviate poverty, especially in Africa.

"If Bjork wasn't here today ... I wouldn't have been thatthrilled about getting a ticket," said 27-year-old TsunenoriSakai, one of around 10,000 people who filled the swelteringconvention center.

Hanae Aoki agreed. "Today we are here because of Bjork,"she told Reuters. "I've been a fan of hers for years."

During the Tokyo concert, Japanese subtitles running belowdocumentary excerpts about poverty were so small that manypeople in the crowd could not read them.

But the Live 8 message was not totally lost.

Bjork, for one, expressed the feeling of hopelessness shefelt in the face of Africa's crippling poverty and disease.

"I look at the news, I see people starving, I am crying.I'm a total mess," she told reporters after her first live gigin two years.

"You try to think how you're going to break through thiscobweb of problems and bureaucracy and how on Earth anybody isgoing to make any change."

Most people in the audience were at least wearing whitepoverty awareness wristbands.

"It's something I just wanted to see," said Koichi Sato,31. "We've never had something like this in Japan for Africa... and of course, I want to see Bjork."