Berlin fears fiasco as Live8 concert fails to attract support

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Berlin's planned Live8 concert next week threatens to turn into a fiasco because it has failed to attract the support of politicians or business sponsors, the event's German organiser has admitted.

Marek Lieberberg, a friend of Bob Geldof contracted to run the Live8 concert in Berlin, said the lack of support meant the rock bands appearing at the event risked having to pay for the €1m (£663,000) show themselves.

Free rock concerts are being held in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States on 2 July as part of Geldof's campaign to press the G8 industrialised countries into stepping up development aid for Africa. The Berlin event will feature Green Day, Roxy Music, A-ha and Brian Wilson.

But in an interview with Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper yesterday, Mr Lieberberg warned that the Berlin event threatened to become an embarrassment. "One can only feel shame," he said. "In England and America there has been incredible support from business and politics for this thing.

"We have written to about 50 major German companies and banks for backing, but we have either heard nothing from them or been turned down. Germany will be the only country in which neither a national business sponsor nor the city itself has provided a cent. Given the problem that we are addressing, I think this is absolutely unbelievable."

The concert organiser singled out Berlin's city government for its attitude of "greed, lack of interest and bureaucratic foot-dragging" towards the event. "None of the other capitals involved have behaved like this," he added. The only German sponsorship he had received was from the television channel ARD.

Mr Lieberberg said he had written to Wolfgang Thierse, the German parliamentary president asking for permission to hold the concert on the lawns in front of the Reichstag parliament building. "Mr Thierse replied that it was out of the question because it might damage the lawns' automatic sprinkler system," Mr Lieberberg said. The concert organiser said the Berlin city government showed interest only after Klaus Wowereit, the mayor, was offered a chance to appear at a press conference with Geldof. "But the mayor didn't show up," he said.

Last week, Mr Geldof lamented the decision by the Italian rock star, Vasco Rossi, to pull out of the Rome Live8 event to fulfil an engagement in Ancona. At a press conference in Rome, he said: "Vasco is a great star, a really great, great artist, and I think he should be there. He's not going to lose his voice. He only has to sing two songs."

Another Italian artist has apparently demanded more information on what the concert was about before appearing.

The German concert is to be staged at the end of a tree-lined avenue that runs between the Brandenburg Gate and its 19th century Victory Column. Mr Lieberberg said the venue was inappropriate because concert-goers would be forced, in effect, to "queue" to watch the show. "There is even a traffic light in front of the stage," he added.

The organiser said that as a result of the city's attitude to the Live8 event, he had refused Mayor Wowereit permission to address the audience on 2 July.

"We will not provide a platform for this sort of vanity on such a wonderful day," he said.