Feature - Back Numbers

Getting into the Spirit - Live 8 Hits Japan's Shores (2005.06.25)

Tokyo was recently added to the list of cities hosting Live 8 concerts, which have been organized by Sir Bob Geldof to put pressure on rich countries to forgive African debt and to raise awareness of world poverty.

Live 8 Japan will be held July 2 at the Makuhari Messe convention center east of Tokyo. Bjork will perform live for the first time in two years at the show, organizers of the event announced June 24.

Other acts confirmed to play at the concert are Dreams Come True, Rize, Def Tech, McFly and Good Charlotte. More acts will be announced on the website www.live8.jp.

Starting at 2 p.m. local time on July 2, Live 8 Japan will be the first in the series of Live 8 shows worldwide.

As with the other Live 8 events taking place around the world the same day, admission to the show will be free. Information about how to get tickets can be found on the Live 8 Japan website.

The show will be filmed by Fuji TV for national broadcast at a later date. The world TV broadcast of the BBC footage of Live 8 will go out to Japan for the show's full 10 hours on CS Fuji channel 721, starting at 10 p.m. Japan time, including at least three songs from Japan Live 8.

"We can't believe the willingness of all involved to make this extraordinary event come together at such short notice," says Live 8 Japan organizer Lily Sobhani. "The line-up is fabulous and Live 8 Japan is going to be a momentous addition to the global series of events on July 2."

Organizers are in panic mode as they try to organize the Tokyo show at the last minute. In Japan, concerts by big-name acts are usually booked months in advance, and so trying to put together a show of this magnitude in just a few weeks is a decidedly daunting task.

Many major international and domestic artists are booked to play at the various rock festivals taking place this summer in Japan, and it's standard procedure for their contracts to stipulate that they not play gigs in Japan for a certain period before and after their appearances at the festivals.

Meanwhile, your humble Nippop correspondent, in his guise as Billboard Asia bureau chief, was at one point asked by Live 8 Japan organizers to remove a sentence from an online story saying that Dreams Come True were rumored to be among the acts playing at the event. If the offending line were to remain in the story, the group wouldn't perform at the show, organizers said. Crazy, but that's showbiz. The sentence was duly removed, and Dreams Come True are on the Live 8 Japan bill. Thank goodness.

So far the event has received relatively little publicity in the Japanese media, and it remains to be seen just how effective Live 8 Japan will be in terms of raising awareness of poverty-related issues in Japan. Compared to other countries, Japan doesn't have a strong tradition of charity concerts or musicians addressing topics of social concern.

Exceptions include the annual Act Against AIDS concert series, Ryuichi Sakamoto's high-profile involvement in the global anti-landmine campaign, and the "Free Tibet" concerts which have featured acts such as Buffalo Daughter, Ua and veteran rocker Kiyoshiro Imawano, who's a regular at such events. Expect to see a yukata-clad Imawano hamming it up on stage at Live 8 Japan, belting out his off-key ditties to the bemusement of those attending the show.

One hopes that Fuji TV's coverage of Live 8 Japan will be more intelligent than its broadcast of the original Live Aid concerts in 1985, which was notable for its tendency to break away from acts such as the re-formed Led Zeppelin in midsong so that a panel of showbiz hacks in Tokyo could tell us just how wonderful the artists were.

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Originally submitted by: Steve McClure | See Edit History | Edit Article