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Live 8


Live 8

Live 8
Live 8 logo
The Live 8 logo
Genre Pop music
Rock music
Dates 2 and 6 July 2005
Location(s) London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Philadelphia, Barrie, Chiba, Johannesburg, Moscow, Cornwall and Edinburgh
Years active 2005
Founded by Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and Ryan Jarman

Live 8 was a string of benefit concerts that took place on 2 July 2005, in the G8 states and in South Africa. They were timed to precede the G8 conference and summit held at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland from 6–8 July 2005; they also coincided with the 20th anniversary of Live Aid. Run in support of the aims of the UK's Make Poverty History campaign and the Global Call for Action Against Poverty, ten simultaneous concerts were held on 2 July and one on 6 July. On 7 July, the G8 leaders pledged to double 2004 levels of aid to poor nations from US$25 billion to US$50 billion by the year 2010. Half of the money was to go to Africa.

More than 1,000 musicians performed at the concerts, which were broadcast on 182 television networks and 2,000 radio networks.[1]

Live Aid and NetAid concerts, including Executive Producer Jeff Pollack.

Organizers of Live 8 presented the "Live 8 List" to the world leaders at the Live 8 call that politicians take action to "Make Poverty History".[6] Names from the list also appeared on the giant televisions at each concert during the broadcast.

An official Live 8 DVD set was released on 7 November 2005 internationally, 8 November 2005 in the United States. It was released almost a year to the day after the release of the DVD of Live Aid on 8 November 2004.


  • Concerts 1
  • Key events 2
  • Tickets 3
  • Memorable moments from the concerts 4
    • Hyde Park, London 4.1
    • Philadelphia, USA 4.2
    • Barrie, Canada 4.3
    • Berlin, Germany 4.4
  • Rally and protest in Edinburgh 5
  • Criticism 6
    • A lack of black presence 6.1
    • Artists' careers 6.2
    • Swearing and censorship 6.3
    • Live 8 as public relations 6.4
    • Other 6.5
  • Legacy 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10


Live 8 concerts and line-ups

2 July 2005
Hyde Park, London
Château de Versailles, near Paris
Siegessäule, Berlin
Circus Maximus, Rome
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Park Place, Barrie
Makuhari Messe, Chiba
Mary Fitzgerald Square, Johannesburg
Red Square, Moscow
"Africa Calling", Eden Project

6 July 2005
"Edinburgh 50,000 – The Final Push"

There were ten concerts held on 2 July 2005, most of them simultaneously. The first to begin was held at the Makuhari Messe in Japan, with Rize being the first of all the Live 8 performers. During the opening of the Philadelphia concert, Will Smith led the combined audiences of London, Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris and Barrie (outside Toronto) in a synchronised finger click. This was to represent the death of a child every three seconds owing to poverty.

Bob Geldof was at the event at Hyde Park in London, England and made numerous appearances on stage, including a performance of "I Don't Like Mondays". Special guests appeared throughout the concerts. Both Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Bill Gates made speeches at the London show and Nelson Mandela addressed the crowd in the South African venue. Guest presenters, ranging from sports stars to comedians, also introduced acts.

Included in the all-star line-up were Pink Floyd, reunited with former bassist/vocalist/lyricist Roger Waters for the first time in over 24 years. The complete foursome had not performed together as Pink Floyd since a show at Earls Court in London on 17 June 1981. With the death of pianist/keyboardist/backing vocalist Richard Wright in 2008, Live 8 became the final time the four members of the band's best known, "classic" line-up performed together in concert. Attempts to lure former member Syd Barrett to perform prove fruitless. The band dedicated "Wish You Were Here" to the absent Barrett, who died in 2006.

The final event was held in Edinburgh, Scotland on 6 July 2005 and went by the name Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push. It featured further performances from some of the artists from the other concerts, and was the closest of the eleven to the actual location of the G8 summit.

It was also said that Live 8 organizers had planned to have the US show in New York's Central Park. However, due to the work of Larry Magid, Geldolf and others were convinced to return to Philadelphia, the US home of Live Aid 20 years earlier. Over 700,000 people turned out to the Ben Franklin Parkway to experience the show.

Key events

The Live 8 concert in the Tiergarten, Berlin. On stage is a-ha
The Live 8 concert in Rome, Italy
  • 31 May 2005: Official announcement of Live 8 concerts by Bob Geldof.
  • 1 June 2005: Geldof calls for a million people to descend upon Edinburgh in a "Long Walk to Justice", on 6 July, the first day of the G8 summit at Gleneagles. Geldof is immediately criticised by Lothian and Borders Police chief constable Ian Dickenson for encouraging such a large crowd to assemble in Edinburgh with such little notice and no consultation with local authorities about how to accommodate so many people.
  • 3 June 2005: British Chancellor He also supported Geldof's call for a peaceful protest rally in Scotland. [7]
  • 6 June 2005: Text lottery launches in the UK for tickets for the London concert. 1.5 million text messages are received in the first day.
  • 7 June 2005: Midge Ure announces a concert to be held in Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland on 6 July as the climax to the proposed rally.
  • 11 June 2005: G8 finance ministers agree to cancel the debt owed by 18 of the poorest countries.
  • 14 June 2005: eBay announces that they will block the selling-on of tickets after Geldof calls on the public to rally against the internet auction site.
  • 15 June 2005: Youssou N'Dour will host the event, which will also feature performances by African performers Maryam Mursal, Salif Keita and Thomas Mapfumo.[8]
  • 16 June 2005: Geldof announces three more concerts for 2 July, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa; Makuhari Messe, Japan; and Sudbury, Canada.
  • 17 June 2005: The Live 8 List, a petition to the G8 leaders, launches.
  • 21 June 2005: "Live 8 Canada" announced. Acts include Bryan Adams, Barenaked Ladies, and more. The event will be hosted by comedians Dan Aykroyd and Tom Green
  • 21 June 2005: Damon Albarn, who recently criticised Live 8 for the lack of African artists, is now reportedly happy about Live 8 now that they have addressed his criticism. He told a reporter: "I have said certain things in relation to the density of African performers... In some way that's been addressed and that's really good... Live 8 will make a difference – it's already created a debate that we're all involved in.".[9] Albarn's band Blur was originally a part of the Live 8 line-up, but withdrew after complaining of the event being too "Anglo-Saxon".
  • 22 June 2005: In the United States, MTV, MTV2, mtvU, and VH1 all confirm that they will broadcast Live 8 starting at Noon ET. Country Music Television and VH1 Classic will show highlights on 3 July in favour of their viewers' genres.
  • 23 June 2005: All 35,000 tickets for Canadian show are taken within 20 minutes of being made available online.[10]
  • 24 June 2005: Live 8 Japan and South Africa announced. Acts in Japan concert include Do As Infinity, Björk, Good Charlotte, while acts in Johannesburg concert include African stars such as 4Peace Ensemble and Oumou Sangare.
  • 28 June 2005: ABC say they will broadcast a two-hour highlights event at 8 pm ET on 2 July in prime time.
  • 2 July 2005: Live 8 Russia, in Moscow's Red Square, announced. Acts include Pet Shop Boys, The Red Elvises and Bravo.
  • 2 July 2005: AOL Music begins broadcasting streams from each city live and on-demand at[11]
  • 2 July 2005: The march against poverty in Edinburgh starts and continues mostly peacefully, with an estimate of 200,000 people involved with the march. Main concerts start.
  • 3 July 2005: Sail 8 flops.
  • 6 July 2005: Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push concert in Edinburgh takes place.
  • 8 July 2005: The G8 summit ends. Leaders pledge to increase aid to developing countries by US$50 billion overall by 2010, including an increase of US$25 billion in aid for Africa.
  • 8 July 2005: Bob Geldof thanks the G8 for meeting the Live 8 goal.
  • 25 October 2005: Official Live 8 Africa Calling at the Eden Project DVD releases.
  • 7 November 2005: Official Live 8 DVD releases internationally.
  • 8 November 2005: Official Live 8 DVD releases in North America and was recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario.
  • 2 July 2006: MTV Networks, CTV and BBC One broadcast Live 8: What a Difference a Day Makes special to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the show.


A pair of Live 8 London tickets

Although the concerts were free, 66,500 pairs of tickets for the Hyde Park concert were allocated from 13 to 15 June 2005, to winners of a mobile phone text message competition that began on Monday, 6 June 2005. Entry involved sending the answer to a multiple choice question via a text message costing £1.50. Winners were drawn at random from those correctly answering the question. Over two million messages were sent during the competition, raising £3m. Thus entrants had a roughly one-in-28 chance of winning a pair of tickets. The first £1.6m raised is to be given to the Prince's Trust, who in turn will donate to the Help A London Child charity. The Prince's Trust usually host the Party in the Park concert in Hyde Park in July, a major source of British pride. That event was pushed aside in 2005 to make way for Live 8. The £1.6m donation will act as a quid pro quo. Funds raised beyond the £1.6m "will go to pay for the costs of Live 8, as it is a free event", according to the Live 8 website. When challenged on how a free event could cost anything, Live 8 organizers made their steady exit.

Some ticket-winners immediately placed their tickets for sale on the Internet auction site

Similar touting situations arose for the Edinburgh and Canadian shows, and eBay halted sales of those tickets as well. In fact, the 35,000 free tickets for the Canadian show were all distributed in just 20 minutes on 23 June 2005, Ticketmaster reported.[1]

Memorable moments from the concerts

Hyde Park, London

Pink Floyd playing at Live 8 in London with reunited classic line-up (left) and U2 and Paul McCartney performing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (right)
Madonna performing at the Live 8 benefit concert in 2005.
  • Before Live Aid. She held hands with Madonna while the singer performed the first verses of "Like a Prayer". Geldof had asked Woldu whom she wanted to appear on stage with, with Woldu choosing Madonna as she was the only artist she'd heard of.
  • Chris Martin included a verse of "Rockin' All Over the World" from Status Quo (originally written and recorded by John Fogerty) in the bridge of Coldplay's song "In My Place". Status Quo had opened the 1985 Wembley Live Aid concert with that song. In addition, Coldplay were joined by Richard Ashcroft (declared by Martin to be 'the best singer in the world') to perform "Bitter Sweet Symphony".
  • Robbie Williams began his set with a cover of Queen's "We Will Rock You". Williams stated in an interview that he "wanted to bring a bit of Freddie back from the original Live Aid". Williams had often performed the same section of "We Will Rock You" during his own concerts.

Philadelphia, USA

Barrie, Canada

Deep Purple made an appearance and performed "Highway Star", "Smoke on the Water" and "Hush". The Tragically Hip played a set, just before Neil Young finished off Live 8 in Barrie with "4 Strong Winds", "Rockin' in the Free World" and "O Canada".

Berlin, Germany

Some of the highlights of the Berlin show included Brian Wilson who played a set with his band, doing Our Prayer/Gee, God Only Knows, California Girls, Good Vibrations, and Fun Fun Fun, as well as Green Day, having released their political rock opera American Idiot one year previous.

Rally and protest in Edinburgh

On 2 July, the same day as the Live 8 concerts, a rally and protest march was held in central Make Poverty History coalition as part of a series of events ahead of the G8 conference, and had been planned for months before the announcement of Live 8.

An estimated total of 225,000 people took part, making it the largest ever protest in Scotland and the largest ever anti-poverty protest in the UK.

The marchers had been asked to wear white to make a symbolic ring of white through the city, matching the Make Poverty History white wristband. Marchers were addressed by coalition and other activists, celebrities and religious leaders who support the campaign for political action on world poverty.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Dickinson said:[13]


A lack of black presence

Based on the proposed line-up, Damon Albarn criticised the event for a lack of black presence, saying that "This country [the United Kingdom] is incredibly diverse," he said. "More than ever, black culture is an integral part of society. So why is the bill so damn Anglo-Saxon?". Albarn reportedly eventually became happy about Live 8, feeling that his criticisms had been addressed. He told a reporter on 21 June:

Youssou N'Dour, one of only two African-born performers, with Dido in Hyde Park, London

A Live 8 spokesman said that a number of black performers had been approached to participate and that the event would feature a "large urban element", and pointed to the number of artists of African descent like Ms. Dynamite and Mariah Carey (whose father was of African-South American descent). However, only two Africa-born artists, one black and one white, were signed to perform at the main concerts—respectively Youssou N'Dour (Senegal) and Dave Matthews (South Africa), the leader of Dave Matthews Band. Bob Geldof originally said that this was because he had aimed for the biggest-selling, most popular artists to ensure a large television audience; but critics noted that even if this was acceptable as the sole criterion for inclusion, some of the minor white artists signed up were substantially less well-known than some major African artists. Geldof has been accused of compounding the original error by announcing an entirely African line-up ("Africa Calling") at a concert to be held at the Eden Project near St. Austell, Cornwall, on the same day as the main Live 8 concerts.[14]

Artists' careers

As with many charity events before it, Live 8 has come in for some criticism in the media. Some of these criticisms are not specific to Live 8 but representative of a particular point of view concerning western attitudes towards Africa. However, some critics such as TV and radio presenter Andy Kershaw directed criticisms at Geldof himself and the motives for Live 8:

Geldof is criticised for using Africa as "a catwalk" which is more about reviving the careers of ageing rock stars than about helping the poor in Africa. For example, some fans and music critics feel that some of the line-ups, such as that in Sudbury, are not only largely ethnically homogeneous but not likely to connect with, or speak to, younger fans.[16]

Many believed that it was hypocrisy that many of the performing artists had tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars of "spare cash" lying in their bank accounts while wanting to "Make Poverty History". Counter-critics, however, point out that these celebrities are still not rich enough to be able to cancel the debts of nations. Damon Albarn also suggested that the performers' record labels should pay "a tariff" as the accompanying publicity would increase future record sales and hence their profits. Live 8, it is important to note, is not a charity event. Indeed, public figures and media have since called on the artists and their record labels to donate the profits of increased sales that followed appearance at the event.[17] Certain artists have undertaken such action on their own initiative: David Gilmour, for example, announced that he would donate the profits of increased sales in Pink Floyd's Echoes album to charity, stating:

More criticism has been levelled at some of the performers based on what they took home for participating in the Philadelphia concert. While they received no monetary compensation, some were given gift bags containing lavish gifts and designer goodies – including Gibson guitars and Hugo Boss suits – valued at approximately $3000.[18]

Swearing and censorship

Despite the show being broadcast before the watershed in many countries, there was no attempt at censorship. The BBC later apologised[19] for not censoring performances such as Madonna's, where she asked the audience, "Are you fucking ready, London?" (she apologised shortly afterwards), and Snoop Dogg's performance, which contained much cursing. Madonna also swore repeatedly during her final song, "Music".[19] Razorlight, Green Day (link-up with Live 8 Berlin), U2 and Velvet Revolver were also condemned for using strong language before the UK watershed, though Joss Stone's use of the word "bollocks" during a backstage interview apparently went unnoticed by complainants as her name did not feature on the list of artists named during the on air apology broadcast by the BBC following an investigation by UK media regulatory body Ofcom. Performances by Robbie Williams, Pink Floyd and The Who also featured strong language, though all three appeared after the UK 9:00 pm watershed.

In the official DVD release of the concerts, Madonna's pre-song cursing was not included while her in-song cursing was. On the other hand, almost half of Snoop Dogg's performance was not made available. Robbie Williams' as well as Midge Ure's cursing comments remain from the Edinburgh concert.

In the United States, MTV censored swear words from the performances it broadcast, except for the word "bullshit" as part of the lyrics to Pink Floyd's "Money". The ABC network drew criticism when it aired a highlights special of The Who's performance of "Who Are You" without censorship of the lyric, "Who the fuck are you?"; however, the song "has been aired countless times in its unedited form on radio stations across the nation since its release in 1978."[20]

Live 8 as public relations

Critics claim the events can be best viewed as a PR campaign for G8 leaders and multinational corporations, due to the disparity between the rhetoric of the events and the actual efforts made after the events in reducing poverty.[21]

Furthermore, the Live 8 concert's timing, coinciding with the long planned Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh, drew criticism from organisers of the march. Benedict Southworth of Make Poverty History claimed that the timing of the concert on the same day of the march diluted the political message and had the effect of leading the media to cover the concert rather than the march. He says 'What should have been a political concert was very much kind of watered down and frittered away by the way the media covered it.'


Although the concerts in London and Philadelphia had the biggest stars lining up, both concerts are currently not available in their original, full version. Several artists' performances were cut to one or two songs, including Bon Jovi and Dido.

MTV and VH1 were criticised for cutting to commercials while bands were still performing, specifically Pink Floyd (during the guitar solo for "Comfortably Numb") and The Who right before Roger Daltrey's famous scream in "Won't Get Fooled Again". Criticism was also aimed at MTV and VH1 for focusing too much on ill-informed VJs and not enough on the music. VJs were frequently talking over the music, discussing how great it was to be hearing a particular song or seeing a particular band, rather than letting the performances speak for themselves. In some instances, VJs referred to the event as "Live 8 2005" or even "Live Aid 8" proving that they had little or no knowledge of the cause going into the event. Very few of Live 8's songs were played in full by MTV and almost none of them were broadcast live, leading some to say that MTV may have covered the event but it did not broadcast it. The following weekend, MTV and VH1 broadcast six hours of a commercial-free special devoted to Live 8 showing full performances in response to the heavy criticism. As a possible result of the criticism, neither MTV nor VH1 broadcast (or even covered) the Live Earth concerts in 2007.

Another criticism was at the London round, alcohol was barely available to concertgoers, while being made available to the VIPs.

In the weeks leading up to Live 8, the British tabloid Daily Mirror began a petition, garnering support for British rock legends Status Quo. Originally offered a 6 pm slot, the Quo already had commitments in Ireland and therefore it requested an earlier slot. The Mirror's petition, titled "No Quo, No Show", was backed by thousands though eventually nothing came of it. One proposed rationale behind this was a rumour that Geldof was angered at the Quo's reference to there being "a lot of drugs" at Live Aid in 1985.

The Spice Girls were rumoured to be coming back for their first appearance together since 1998. All across the UK, rumours began to circulate causing a frenzy with both fans and critics alike. The Spice Girls did intend to perform together at Live 8; however, Geldof decided that they would only be accepted in the event if all five members were in attendance.[22] Due to contractual commitments in Los Angeles, spice girl Melanie Brown could not attend Live 8, so none of the girls sung on stage.

British comedian Peter Kay played a trick on Spice Girls fans in the audience, while he was introducing one of the acts. After several minutes of build-up, he introduced the Spice Girls, to cheers from the crowd, before looking backstage, supposedly confused as to whom he was introducing: "The what? The who?" He then turned back to the crowd with a smile on his face and introduced The Who.

Alternative rock band Green Day received some minor criticism for the politically charged lyrics used in the song "Holiday". Some viewers felt that the word choice caused unnecessary division in the audience and did too much to shift the focus off of ending poverty.

Oasis also declined to participate in the concerts as they were performing at the City of Manchester Stadium the same evening and the day after. Noel Gallagher later raised his resentment that musicians were expected to rally at the convenience of Geldof, and was quoted as saying "It's the general thing that rock stars should be doing something to fucking sort [the worldwide poverty issue] out. And it's like, 'Well, all right, that's what Bono and Chris Martin are for.'" He was later quoted as saying "I don't like the way that somebody suddenly decides that all the bands in Britain are going to fucking play and everybody jumps to attention". Later, Gallagher became one of the more vocal sceptics about the impact of Live 8, citing his belief that rock stars are not as influencing over world leaders as popular culture may believe.[23]

The Backstreet Boys were one of the first artists offered to perform at the events but they declined as they would be performing overseas as part of their Never Gone Tour on the same dates as the events.


On 2 July 2006, BBC One, CTV and MTV broadcast Live 8: What a Difference a Day Makes. In the UK, the special was 60 minutes as compared to the US version on MTV running at 90 minutes. The special was aired on MTV at 7:30 am Eastern time, giving nearly no chance for viewers to be made aware of the broadcast. Instead of airing the special late at night, MTV aired their normal broadcasting schedule for Sundays, again adding to the criticism of MTV's lack of interest in Live 8.

In a report issued in June 2006 the G8 have reportedly not lived up to their promises set in 2005. According to DATA, the US has increased its development-assistance pledges but is increasingly off-track in meeting them and, in general, the G8 is moving slowly in the effort to meet its promises.[24]

Some consider Live 8 to be a success, including Bob Geldof himself. Chris Martin of Coldplay described Live 8 as "the greatest thing that's probably been organised ever in the history of the world".[25] However, others believe it was a publicity stunt and a failure as the G8 have already forgotten their pledges.[26] Geldof also believes that public attention was quickly diverted by the London bombings on 7 July, the day after Live 8 Edinburgh which was the final concert in the series.

See also


  1. ^ a b [4]
  2. ^ "Newsbeat – Front Page". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  3. ^ [5]
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, World, News, Business, Entertainment". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "UK | UK Politics | Brown to 'waive' VAT for Live 8". BBC News. 3 June 2005. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  8. ^ [6]
  9. ^ "Newsbeat – Front Page". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "Cdn. Live 8 tickets snatched up within minutes – CTV News". Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Tour Dates and Live Concert Tickets on". Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Stevie Wonder at Live8". Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "Thousands Flock to Poverty march". Diplomatic Briefings, News, Views and Reviews. 
  14. ^ "Eden Project African gig revealed". N/A (British Broadcasting Corporation). 15 June 2005. p. 1. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  15. ^ The Independent (London) 
  16. ^ "Live 8 dismisses criticism about grizzled lineup". Archived from the original on 25 June 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  17. ^ a b "Donate Live 8 profit says Gilmour". BBC News. 5 July 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  18. ^ "Fancy gifts at odds with cause?".  
  19. ^ a b "BBC SORRY FOR SWEARING STARS". []. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  20. ^ "FMQB". FMQB. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  21. ^ "Live 8: Who organised the PR campaign for Blair and Bush?". Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  22. ^ Harris, Chris. "Spice Girls Reunion at Live 8 Held Up By Scary, Geldof Says – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  23. ^ Smith, David (18 June 2005). "Gallagher casts doubt on the value of Live8". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "Live 8, One Year Later: Goals Not Met". MTV News. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  25. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (13 September 2005). "Three months ago Bob Geldof declared Live 8 had achieved its aim. But what really happened next?".  
  26. ^ Youngs, Ian (2 July 2006). "Did Live 8 make a difference?". BBC News. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 

Further reading

  • Live 8 official website.
  • Hello World, the Official Live 8 book, Paul Vallely, Century books, 2005
  • Live 8 unofficial website.
  • Sign the Live 8 petition to Make Poverty History
  • Live 8 Philadelphia exclusive website.
  • Bob Geldof and Live 8 on Indymedia.
  • from BBC NewsLive 8 global concerts under way, 2 July 2005.
  • from BBC NewsThousands flock to poverty march, 2 July 2005.
  • from BBC NewsGeldof unveils Live 8 show plans, 31 May 2005.
  • Guardian Unlimited – Special Report: Live 8 ongoing coverage
  • "The organiser of Live 8 discusses his efforts to fight poverty, his relationship with Bono and his critics." Brian Braiker, Newsweek
  • View pictures of Live 8
  • Live 8 Philly Concert 360-degree panorama
  • Live 8 Berlin Concert 360-degree panorama
  • Mike McCartney's Live 8 Book Launch
  • Live 8 Review
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