Live 8 defends line-up in Albarn 'Anglo-Saxon' row

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The Independent Culture

Organisers of the Live 8 concerts today defended themselves against suggestions from Damon Albarn that their line-up is too "exclusive".

The Blur and Gorillaz star criticised the lack of black stars on the bill and said he would not take part in the event if asked.

He said the list of performers was too "Anglo-Saxon", adding: "Is this the best way to help Africa?"

That sparked an angry response from Live 8, who told the singer to "check his facts".

A spokesman said: "Bob Geldof's intention was to get headline grabbing shows full of people who fill stadiums and arenas.

"This is not Womad (the world music festival). We are not doing an arts festival."

The spokesman added that there was a large "urban element" to the shows.

"Snoop Dogg is playing in London and Youssou N'Dour is playing in both Paris and London," he said.

A third major black act, Ms Dynamite, will also play in the London concert at Hyde Park.

None of the three acts were in the original line-up released on May 31.

The spokesman also stressed the predominance of black acts at the other Live 8 concerts around the world.

"We have 50 Cent, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z along with U2 and Coldplay."

And he said a large African event was planned although not finalised.

"Mr Albarn should check his facts and what we're planning first. Stand by Damon to be surprised," the spokesman said.

"What Damon doesn't realise is that we don't want to preach to the converted."

The aim was to bring the issue of poverty to young people who don't listen to the news, only read rock music magazine Kerrang or only watch MTV, he said.

Albarn had criticised the event on BBC Radio 4's Today programme when he was asked if he would be taking part.

He said: "No. I am not. I haven't even been asked ... I don't want to take part in an event that is so exclusive. Is this the most effective way to help Africa?"

The star said the lack of black artists was "the greatest oversight" and undermined the whole project.

"This country is incredibly diverse. More than ever, black culture is an integral part of society, so why is the bill so damn Anglo-Saxon?

"If you are holding a party on behalf of people, then surely you don't shut the door on them.

"It's insensitive and it also perpetuates this idea that Africa is separated in some way.

"In a way Live 8 does that - it doesn't make you feel closer to Africa, it treats it like it's a failing, ill, sick, tired place.

"My personal experience of Africa is that yes, I have witnessed all those things there, but it's incredibly sophisticated - the society and the structure of people's lives is as sophisticated, if not more sophisticated in some ways, than in the West."

Albarn also said there should be pressure on record companies to give money to the cause because the artists involved would enjoy increased record sales because of appearing at Live 8.

Asked what more the artists could do, he said: "Surely there should be some kind of tariff on the record companies.

"It is without question that all the artists that play there will enjoy increased record sales.

"I would feel more comfortable if I felt there was a discussion and that the artists were putting pressure on their record labels to genuinely show that this is an altruistic act and that there is no self-gain in it because surely that negates from the message if there is."

He said he was arranging a performance by African artists in a pod of the London Eye "to explore the diversity and the intelligence of Africa and not just its poverty".