Geldof 'S U-Turn over Live8 Snub to African Stars
Byline: RICHARD SIMPSON
BOB Geldof always insisted that no African acts were big enough to perform at the Live8 concert.
But in the face of mounting criticism, he has changed his mind and given them a show all of their own.
He has enrolled former Genesis star Peter Gabriel, Ultravox singer Midge Ure and African singer Youssou N'Dour to organise Africa Calling.
The show will be held at the Eden Project in Cornwall at the same time as Geldof's Live8 concerts in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo, Toronto and Philadelphia on July 2.
The organisers hope it will silence critics who rounded on Geldof when he declared African bands could not compete with artists such as Madonna, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and U2 who attract global audiences. He argued that having big crowd pleasers on stage would attract more attention to the problem of poverty in Africa.
He also claimed Live8 'is not Womad', the world music festival founded by Gabriel. Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, BBC Radio 3 DJ Andy Kershaw and the Senegalese star Baaba Maal were among those upset at the lack of African artists on the Live8 bill.
But if Geldof was hoping to put an end to the backbiting with the new show he will be disappointed.
Some African critics are aggrieved at making do with a smaller 'token black' concert 200 miles away from the real showstopper in London.
Lester Holloway, editor of the black news website Blink, summed up the mood. 'This is really a terribly token gesture,' he said.
'Only a couple of days ago, Geldof said he didn't want Live8 to be like the world music festival Womad, and now that he realised his comment brought a bit of a cloud over things, that's exactly what is happening.
'The irony is that all the white acts will be playing in London, the most multicultural city in Europe, while all the black acts will be in Cornwall, where black people are very much in the minority.' Another concert, also featuring African musicians, is planned for Johannesburg.
Peter Gabriel, 55, said he had 'talked at some length' with Geldof about the idea of Africa Calling.
'I understand his criteria of trying to keep the largest audience around the world switched on and looking at issues about Africa through the artists selling the most records,' he said.
'I would have done it a different way - I think it's important to be seen to be allowing the voices of Africa to be heard directly.
'A lot of artists don't feel this is a perfect situation, but respect the aims and goals.
It's a difficult enough job trying to do what they want to do.' The staging of Africa Calling is an apparent turnaround for Geldof. …