Part One - Live 8 Edinburgh: The Concert
I can say without doubt that the last 48 hours has contained some of the most fun, most loud and most shocking moments of my life. In part one of the coverage of Live 8 Edinburgh I'll be talking about the journey up to the concert as well as the gig itself. In part two of the coverage I shall be talking about the protests in and around Edinburgh as well as the terrorist attack on London. Included in both is a selection of around 200 photos that had to be cut down to around 20 of the best shots. Hopefully you'll get a good idea of the atmosphere across this extraordinary 48 hours.
The image above of Edinburgh Castle symbolises what the event organisers of Live 8 were trying to promote; old traditions and ignorance replaced with a push to help an economically repressed Africa. The whole of Edinburgh was packed with groups of people involved with the concert or with the protests planned within the city and at the G8 in Gleneagles. Even in London before the coach journey there was a few hundred people queuing around an hour before the coaches even left.
The concert stadium around 2 hours before the singing started was pretty empty with people rushing towards the front area of the gig. The big screens were playing a video of Live Aid highlights right up to the start of the event. If you've ever wanted to know what the 80s was like, that was your chance! As the stadium was started to fill up with a massive variety of people arrived which reflected the diverse line-up. Teen popsters for The Sugababes and aging rockers for Midge Ure and Sir Bob.
A group of people that brought banners signed by hundreds of people to the concert adorned with the message "Make Poverty History". This message was truly the theme for the entire concert, with several of the artists pumping up the crowd by asking "Why are we here?!" evoking screaming of the MPH slogan.
The concert kicked off with the release of thousands of balloons and the arrival of the first act; The Proclaimers. Their legendary song "I'm gonna be" blew away the crowd as spontaneous rythmic clapping and bouncing broke out across the stadium. The predominantly scottish crowd couldn't get enough of the scottish band blasting out "Just to be the man who walks a thoowsand miles!".
Ironically the sun came out as Wet Wet Wet took the stage, ending showers of rain since the early morning. The crowd continued to get more and more involved as the acts got louder and louder.
George Clooney popped in to say a few words about poverty in Africa and reminded the crowd about the G8 summit. Camera flashes around the stadium reached fever pitch as the actor strided around the stage. George has still got it!
In possibly one of the most memorable moments for all involved, the crowd were asked to hold up the white card placed on their seats before the concert. The cards made a massive white band going around the entire stadium extending the white band symbol of the MPH movement. Following this the crowd attempted the click every three seconds to show how easily the deaths of innocent children could pass by as a result of man-made and imposed poverty. Throughout the concert lines were drawn between apartheid and slavery as man made opression from which justice arose eventually. It's this kind of simplicity that is the Live 8's combined strength and weakness. A simple and clear message to end poverty is necessary to bring the maximum possible amount of support behind it. However the trade of keywords about the issue serves to trivialise the efforts of people that have devoted their lives in grass-roots efforts to make poor people's lives better. Chants of "Justice! Justice!" at the concert felt very emotional, but not in a 'motivating you to get up and sort out Africa' kind of way.
It's not possible to one day wake up and make poverty illegal as it was with slavery and apartheid. Poverty is a result of so many factors which won't be fixed purely by debt cancellation and increased aid in some overnight epiphany. However, trying to discuss political issues in a concert of 50,000 would have been impossible and my respect goes out to the singers and actors for wanting to do something about the problem.
The second to last band to play was the popular scottish band Travis. I would have gone to Live 8 Edinburgh had these guys been the only act, that's how good they are. They played the mellow 'Driftwood' and the lively 'Why does it always rain on me?' evoking a sing-along atmosphere for the ten or so minutes they were on stage. The crowd at this point were totally involved; waving lighters and mobile phones in time with the music. This act was surely the highlight for me as Travis are one of my favorite bands. The atmosphere was truly unforgetable! As Travis finished their second song I had to rush off and catch the coach back to London, ending the biggest and most memorable concerts of my life. Check back later for coverage of the events in Edinburgh and London outside of the concert.