Versailles rocks for Africa to the sound of Live 8

4th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

VERSAILLES, France, July 2 (AFP) - A sea of youth swaying to thunderously loud music filled the front court of Versailles palace Saturday as Paris added its high-decibel support to the worldwide Live 8 charity concerts for Africa.

VERSAILLES, France, July 2 (AFP) - A sea of youth swaying to thunderously loud music filled the front court of Versailles palace Saturday as Paris added its high-decibel support to the worldwide Live 8 charity concerts for Africa.

The contrast between the opulence of the 17th-century palace, built for France's megalomaniac 'Sun King' Louis XIV, and the roar of rock, Afrobeat and pop was sharp.

Bands such as Muse, Alpha Blondy and Magic System filled the summer air with their music against a backdrop of the huge and elegant palace, which was blazoned with the tribute 'To The Glories of France'.

A statue of Louis XIV mounted on a horse looked on impassively as the young crowd -- mostly teenagers -- shuffled, danced and waved their arms in the air.

The occasional images of African children flashed up on video screens in between acts, and the huge Live 8 logos on either side of the stage, were reminders that this was a gig to bring African poverty to the fore of the public consciousness in time for a G8 meeting in Scotland this week.

A direct video feed showing Hollywood actor and singer Will Smith at the Philadelphia concert taking place at the same time underlined the message two hours into the Paris show.

But for those in the crowd, the draw was clearly the unprecedented line-up of bands playing for free.

Other musicians due to take centre-stage later Saturday were Shakira, former French tennis champ turned singer Yannick Noah, Australia's Tina Arena, Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour and The Cure.

"We're here for both: the music and Africa," said a French woman standing in the shade of speakers.

"I think all this (the concerts) will help to influence the G8 to look at African poverty," her boyfriend, Maxime Echene, said.

A Spanish woman nearby, Amparo Alonso, 26, disagreed.

"The rich countries support it (poverty alleviation), but they don't support it at the same time -- they want to do business more than help," she said.

The Live 8 initiative "isn't going to change anything, but it does raise awareness of the issue," her German friend, Andreas Schachtenbeck, opined.

For most of those present, the original Live Aid concert that preceded Saturday's initiative two decades ago was an event that happened just before, or just after, their births.

But they showed themselves eager to participate in the new event, signing up to a petition on Africa via the Internet, mobile phone text message or plain and simple pen and paper.

The crowd stretched back a kilometre (half mile) along a broad avenue giving on to the 17th-century palace.

More than 600 police were deployed, many of them blocking roads leading to the monument.

Half a dozen medical posts were set up, dotted among the food and drink vendors lining the main avenue leading to the stage, and paramedics wandered among the people, watching for signs of heatstroke and dehydration.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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