Dido starts an exodus and Doherty does a Freddie

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The Independent Culture

Or are we? Twenty years on, will the leaders of the world's eight richest nations be shamed into cancelling Africa's debt, just because Sir Paul McCartney has just played "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'' for the first time ever, with U2 as his backing group? Of course they won't.

There's a very Establishment flavour to Live8, from the cosying-up to Blair (who is supposedly one of us because he plays guitar); to the Buckingham Palace Guards who opened proceedings; to the preponderance of "Sirs" on the bill; to the queasy moment when Geldof, one of those Sirs, introduces "a world leader'' who believes "our plan is the right one'' and out strolls Bill Gates, a man who could probably make poverty history by reaching for loose change down the back of his sofa.

He in turn introduces Dido, who prompts lengthy queues at the food and drink concessions, but her duet with Youssou N'Dour (on "Seven Seconds Away") at least provides a rare sighting of an actual African on the stage. As Live Aid presenter Andy Kershaw put it, the hastily arranged world music event at the Eden Project smacks of "Ah yes, better invite some Africans ... but can we keep them in the conservatory?''

The pre-show speculation is all about "Who's going to do a Freddie?'' An early contender is, of all people, Pete Doherty, whose Babyshambles were the worst band in the world on this very stage only two days earlier. Dueting with Elton John, Doherty - in turquoise eye shadow - flings a Union Jack into the TV lens, hurls his cap into the Golden Circle and delivers a very cool cover of T Rex's "Children of the Revolution".

Other crowd-pleasers - and no doubt imminent cash register beneficiaries - include REM ("Man on the Moon" is today's first "Radio Gaga" moment), Travis (covering the Bee Gees) and amazingly, Kaiser Chiefs, all the way from Philadelphia on the big screen.

If it works, of course, it has all been worth it. But, given that groovy, guitar-toting Blair blithely ignored a protest several times the size of today's Hyde Park throng in the run-up to the Iraq war, that's the biggest If of all.