World gets ready to rock for Live Earth
From New York to the Antarctic, from Shanghai to Rio de Janeiro, the world is getting ready to rock on Saturday as organisers of the Live Earth events seek to raise awareness of global warming.
About 7Â 000 events in 129 countries, including eight giant concerts, are being promoted by former US vice-president Al Gore as part of his passionate bid to focus attention on the dangers of climate change.
The 24-hour event on July 7 includes music, theatre and other shows and will be broadcast live worldwide to get the message across to two billion people about the need for drastic measures to protect the environment, say promoters.
A wave of music is set to ripple round the globe, starting in Sydney and then fanning out to Tokyo, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Hamburg, London, New York, and Rio. About 150 stars including Police, Genesis, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Ai Otsuka, Eason Chan, Mana, Joey Yung, Shakira, Linkin Park, Rip Slyme and Red Hot Chili Peppers will be taking part.
Smaller concerts will take place in other cities, most notably Kyoto, where countries came together to establish the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to climate warming.
Another show will be held at a British base in the Antarctic, where some of the effects of global warming are the most visible.
“This monster line-up will ensure Live Earth meets our goal of bringing together people from around the world to combat the climate crisis,” said Live Earth founder Kevin Wall. “Live Earth will be a monumental event both in terms of entertainment and in turning the tide against global warming.”
Gore, whose film An Inconvenient Truth about climate change won this year’s Oscar for best documentary, said one of the key aims is to urge a massive reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050.
“If we are going to solve the crisis, we have to commit, and we have to do it now,” he said.
“Live Earth will ask people across the world to commit to changes in their lives and to move other people, communities, companies and governments to reduce our carbon output by 90% by 2050 and ensure there is a new, global treaty on climate change by 2009.”
The number of participating countries has, however, fallen short of what organisers had hoped for. No Muslim country is taking part, and Turkey has vetoed a concert in Istanbul for security reasons and a lack of interest.
Plans for a concert on the mall in front of the United States Congress in Washington were also turned down by Republican lawmakers.
Wall compared it to organising 10 soccer World Cups at the same time. The concerts will be carried on television stations and on the internet. Spectators will be invited to sign a statement on Live Earth’s website or by SMS.
The event’s organisers are also calling on people to support energy conservation and alternative energy sources, to plant millions of trees and protect the world’s forests, and to support groups dedicated to protecting the environment.
Gore said he will attend the concert in New York and appear at another surprise venue.
Each venue will feature top global performers: in London, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Eyed Peas will headline; in New York, The Police and Smashing Pumpkins. Tokyo will get Rihanna, Linkin Park and a bevy of Japanese stars like Ai Otsuka, while in Kyoto, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Rip Slyme will top the bill.
In Rio, Lenny Kravitz, Pharrell Williams and Macy Gray will share the stage with Brazilian stars, while in South Africa UB40, Angelique Kidjo and Joss Stone will take the stage. Shakira and Enrique Iglesias perform in Hamburg.
Gore said he asked the artists to compose songs for the occasion, and praised Black Eyed Peas for promising one and coming up with it in seven days. He also cheered Madonna’s offering. “Madonna’s song is fantastic,” he said.
Ticket sales for the events will benefit the Alliance for Climate Protection led by Gore.
THE BANDS ROCKING THE PLANET
Adam Plowright reports on a selection of the acts to look out for at the eight Live Earth concerts taking place on Saturday.
Sydney (Starts: 2am GMT)
Antipodean heroes from the 1980s, Crowded House were formed in Melbourne and are known for their melodic guitar-based pop and sharp songwriting from New Zealand-born frontman Neil Finn. Had a hit song with Take the Weather.
Upbeat pop from a Hawaii-born surf idol. Acoustic guitar and catchy, warm vocals delivered by a man who looks like a beach dude and tours in a biodiesel-fuelled bus.
Toni Collette and the Finish
A rock group formed by Australian actress Toni Colette, star of Muriel’s Wedding and Little Miss Sunshine. The band is a “vehicle for Collette’s own bittersweet, emotional, piano-driven rock”, says the Live Earth website.
An Australian power-rock trio often likened to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
Tokyo (Starts: 4am GMT)
Hot-right-now R&B singer Rihanna, born in Barbados but raised in New York, is riding high in music charts internationally. Her single Umbrella has been at number one in Britain for the past seven weeks.
A noisy six-piece band mixing metal and hip-hop. The group have sold 40-million records and have their own charity to combat global warming.
A local pop star known for her sweet looks and catchy voice. In 2007, four years after appearing on the music scene, she released a greatest hits record called Ai am Best.
Yellow Magic Orchestra
A Japanese trio of pioneering synthesiser players, said to have influenced the acid-house and techno movements of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Shanghai (Starts: 11.30am GMT)
12 Girls Band
A dozen girls play traditional Chinese instruments such as the pipa (a lute that looks like a pear), the erhu (the Chinese violin) and the hulusi (a flute).
A British singer best known for her hit versions of songs from The Phantom of the Opera and Cats, famous musicals composed by her former husband Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Like many included in the Shanghai line-up, singer/actress Joey hails from Hong Kong. She is one of the best-selling Cantonese singers in the world.
A singer, actress and writer from Taiwan. She released her first album in 2002, To Be Happy, and starred in the Snow.Wolf.Lake musical written by Hong Kong singer and artist Jacky Cheung in 2005.
Hamburg (Starts: noon GMT)
A West Coast king among US hip-hop stars after selling more than 18-million albums worldwide.
A one-man Spanish-American hit machine, Enrique Iglesias is the son of the legendary Latino singer Julio Iglesias.
The biggest-selling female artist in Europe last year, Katie Melua has a mellow voice that’s equally adept at blues, jazz and folk-tinged pop.
Lotto King Karl
A mixture of hip-hop and pop, Lotto King Karl’s hometown of Hamburg features prominently in his songwriting, including Hamburger Jungs, Hamburger Jungs, Wir Sind Alle Hamburger Jungs.
London (Starts: 1.30pm GMT)
One of the biggest solo female pop acts of all time. Climate-change activists might be put off by her fleet of cars and hit song Material Girl.
Creators of hit punk-influenced rap music for the past 20 years. The three New Yorkers still wear tracksuits and know how to rock a crowd.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
A four-piece funk-rock band from Los Angeles, California. Still going strong after producing endless hits over two decades.
The group have defined heavy metal for the past 25 years. Performances feature bone-crunching bass, raucous guitars and wild vocals from singer James Hetfield.
Johannesburg (Starts: 1700 GMT)
Her throaty, powerful voice has echoes of her idol Aretha Franklin. She emerged at the tender age of 16 after growing up in rural south-west England.
A 1980s British reggae group from the Midlands city of Birmingham. They refused to perform in South Africa during the apartheid era.
Soweto Gospel Choir
In 2003, this group from one of South Africa’s most famous townships won best gospel choir at the American Gospel Music Awards.
A homegrown performer who mixes hip-hop and gospel with hints of traditional Zulu and Sotho music. He acted in and wrote the soundtrack for the film Tsotsi, which won an Academy Award for best foreign film in 2006.
New York (Starts: 5pm GMT)
A recently reunited ska-influenced rock band from the 1980s. Famous frontman Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland once came to blows during a tour in the US before the group’s acrimonious split.
The Smashing Pumpkins
An alternative rock music fronted by bald, intense singer Billy Corgan. After being one of the biggest bands of the 1990s, the US-based band broke up in 2000 before reforming in 2006.
Crooning frontman Jon Bon Jovi is an 1980s rock icon, famous for his super-tight denim and voluminous hair-do. Hit Keep the Faith could be a rallying call for Live Earth.
One of the biggest hip-hop acts of the moment. He joins fellow US rapper Ludacris and Senegal-born Akon at the New York show.
A giant R&B star, New York-born Keys has also made a name for herself as a philanthropist. She is a spokesperson for several charities and recorded a song with U2 lead singer and campaigner Bono for World Aids Day in 2006.
Rio de Janeiro (Starts: 8pm GMT)
A New York-born multi-instrumentalist whose percussive guitar music and good looks have brought him wealth, fame and beautiful girlfriends, among them Vanessa Paradis, Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman.
A US-born hip-hop star who is one half of the production duo The Neptunes and the lead singer and drummer of the funk-rock band N*E*R*D. He is also the co-founder of the clothing brand Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Footwear.
A tattooed Brazilian rapper from Rio de Janeiro.
Pronounced “shoo-shah”, Xuxa is a blonde Brazilian television actress, singer and children’s television host. She had the bestselling album in the history of Brazil with Xou da Xuxa 3, which sold more than 3,8-million copies.