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Peter Gabriel has mixed feelings over Live 8

Singer wishes African acts were on bill
/ Source: Reuters

He is fully behind Bob Geldof and his Live 8 poverty awareness concerts, but musician Peter Gabriel believes African acts have been sidelined in the rush to secure the biggest names in rock.

Former Genesis star Gabriel is holding a concert on July 2 for African artists to coincide with the eight main gigs Geldof has lined up around the globe to pressure world leaders into doing more to alleviate poverty, especially in Africa.

Geldof has had to answer criticism in Britain that he failed to include African bands in his lineups, and, while keen to promote the positives of Live 8, Gabriel has his reservations.

“I did speak to ‘Chairman Bob’ at some length about what would have been our preferred way of doing this,” Gabriel told Reuters Monday, jokingly referring to Geldof’s reputation as being single-minded.

“His belief is that any artist unfamiliar to an audience in remote regions of the Arctic, China, or wherever they come from, is going to channel hop. I fully understand that, but I don’t agree with it.

“We asked for Bob’s blessing (for the African gig) which he freely gave; that was in his role as pope,” he quipped, before adding: “I’m a big fan of what he and Live 8 are trying to do.”

Gabriel, a champion of lesser-known international acts for many years, would prefer to see more African musicians sharing platforms in London, Philadelphia and other Live 8 venues with the likes of U2, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.

But he added that his “Africa Calling” concert would still succeed in showcasing some of Africa’s top musical talent.

“I think it may be the best African lineup assembled in Europe.”

Sellout expectedDespite a lower profile, the concert outside the giant greenhouses of the Eden Project in southwest England, looks likely to sell out.

As of last week around 25,000 people had signed up for 10,000 tickets to see artists including Angelique Kidjo of Benin, Ayub Ogada of Kenya and Daara J of Senegal. Bycomparison, more than 200,000 are expected to gather for the main London concert.

Ogada agreed with Gabriel’s reservations about Geldof’s approach to Live 8, but also welcomed the event.

“I’m an African. All we want is results. The arguments are unimportant,” he told Reuters, speaking in England.

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“With this Eden concert we have a chance to take part. A lot of the times we are left out. Throughout our life outsiders have told us what we need, and no one has ever asked us.”

Gabriel said that as well as putting pressure on Group of Eight leaders meeting in Scotland on July 6-8 to do more to alleviate poverty, he would like to see more done to stamp out corruption in Africa.

“What I would like to see is pressure on the ICC (International Criminal Court) to include corruption in its remit,” he said.

He also called for a system of registering complaints of corruption made by African citizens against leaders and logging any investigations that are launched.

“I would love to see more African-generated initiatives highlighted, because by putting us (in the West) once again in a position of power, there is a subtext which may castrate African initiatives,” he said.