U2 have never had a problem mixing their music with the politics of the day and the highlight of the opening concert in the UK leg of their world tour was pogoing to Sunday Bloody Sunday (listening to War right now). There’s no doubting their ability to put on a show, although I’ve felt the last couple of albums have seen them stay well within their comfort zone: the earlier stuff is where the energy lies. And Sunday Bloody Sunday’s a mythic song in itself. I thought they’d stopped performing it, such was the controversy, but I’m clearly confused like many of these people.
This time, as the digital zoomed mobile phone picture of a video screen struggles to show, Bono wore a ‘coexist’ blindfold. The word is fashioned out of an Islamic crescent, Jewish star and Christian cross. Later we were challenged to text ‘Africa’ to a special number: an instant petition to the G8, already facing major protests, fronted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This behaviour does breed cynicism and many, like the Sentimental Geek are quoting Noel Gallagher.
And that takes me to Live8. The cynics are simply wrong. In the first place, they forget that a huge amount of debt relief has been granted already, following decades of campaigning. It won’t cost us as much as it sounds as much of the debt was unlikely to ever be repaid, but it does signify that the world’s financial institutions are finally coming to terms with reality. There’s a real need to push much further, most importantly on fair trade, to enable developing countries to actually develop and become independent of aid. Concerts that keep the issue in the public eye turbo charge the protests and create spin off activities, like U2’s text message petition. That in turn helps create a climate in which change is expected and politicians need to be seen to succeed.