Pop star savages Live 8 line-up

By Juliette MaxamTHE organisers of the Live 8 concerts have defended themselves against suggestions from pop star Damon Albarn that their line-up was too "exclusive".

By Juliette Maxam

THE organisers of the Live 8 concerts have defended themselves against suggestions from pop star Damon Albarn that their line-up was too "exclusive".

The Blur and Gorillaz star, who grew up in Colchester, criticised Sir Bob Geldolf for putting him on the bill for the London concert without asking first.

Albarn said he did not want to take part in the event – and condemned the line-up for being "too damn Anglo-Saxon".

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He added: "I don't want to take part in an event that is so exclusive. Is this the most effective way to help Africa?"

But Albarn's comments sparked an angry response from Live 8, who told the singer to "check his facts".

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A spokesman said: "Bob Geldof's intention was to get headline-grabbing shows full of people who fill stadiums and arenas. This is not Womad (the world music festival). We are not doing an arts festival."

He added there was a large "urban element" to the shows, pointing out: "Snoop Dogg is playing in London and Youssou N'Dour is playing in both Paris and London."

A third major black act, Ms Dynamite, will also play in the London concert at Hyde Park.

The spokesman also stressed the predominance of black acts at the other Live 8 concerts around the world.

"We have 50 Cent, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z along with U2 and Coldplay," he said, adding a large African event was planned, although not finalised.

"Mr Albarn should check his facts and what we're planning first. Stand by Damon to be surprised. What Damon doesn't realise is that we don't want to preach to the converted."

The spokesman said the aim was to bring the issue of poverty to young people who did not listen to the news, only read rock music magazine Kerrang or just watched MTV.

Albarn criticised the event on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, saying the lack of black artists was "the greatest oversight" and undermined the whole project.

"This country is incredibly diverse. More than ever, black culture is an integral part of society, so why is the bill so damn Anglo-Saxon?" he said.

"If you are holding a party on behalf of people, then surely you don't shut the door on them. It's insensitive and it also perpetuates this idea that Africa is separated in some way. In a way Live 8 does that – it doesn't make you feel closer to Africa, it treats it like it's a failing, ill, sick, tired place.

"My personal experience of Africa is that yes, I have witnessed all those things there, but it's incredibly sophisticated – the society and the structure of people's lives is as sophisticated, if not more sophisticated in some ways, than in the West."

Albarn, who recorded an album, Mali Music, in collaboration with African artists, felt there should be pressure on record companies to give money to the cause because the artists involved would enjoy increased record sales through appearing at Live 8.

"Surely there should be some kind of tariff on the record companies. It is without question that all the artists that play there will enjoy increased record sales," he added.

"I would feel more comfortable if I felt there was a discussion and that the artists were putting pressure on their record labels to genuinely show that this is an altruistic act and that there is no self-gain in it because surely that negates from the message if there is."

Albarn said he was arranging a performance by African artists in a pod of the London Eye "to explore the diversity and the intelligence of Africa and not just its poverty".


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