Neil Young Closes Canada’s Live 8 Concert
By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press Writer
BARRIE, Ontario – Neil Young brought an end to the global Live 8 concert in Canada with a rousing edition of “Keep on Rockin’ In The Free world” and “O Canada” before 35,000 roaring fans at Live 8 in Ontario.
The setting sun fittingly accompanied the closing ballads of the Toronto-born Young, 59. The concert marked Young’s return on stage three months after being treated for a brain aneurysm.
The artists, some 20 bands and individuals in all, signed off with Young’s trademark “Keep on Rockin’ In The Free world” before being joined by the crowd in the singing of “O Canada.”
Canadian favorite Tom Cochrane kicked off Canada’s Live 8 concert with “Life is a Highway” before 35,000 roaring fans, moving the global event into North America.
Concertgoers also sang along with Bryan Adams, jumped and bodysurfed to A Simple Plan and heard local favorite Bruce Cockburn pull out his catalogue of hits.
Live 8, which is intended to encourage increased aid for Africa, started off Saturday in Japan, then worked its way across Africa and Europe. The other North American venue, Philadelphia, started an hour later than the concert in Barrie, about 50 miles north of Toronto.
Thousands of pairs of arms went up at noon as concertgoers in Canada joined others around the world and followed actor and musician Will Smith’s lead from a satellite feed from Philadelphia, snapping their fingers every three seconds to mark the child death rate in Africa.
But the taped performance of Quebec diva Celine Dion had some detractors.
“She could have afforded to fly,” remarked a disappointed Liz Tomassetti, who otherwise rated the show as “excellent”.
Local area paramedics said some 80 people were treated for heat strokes and scrapes. Before starting the concert, Cochrane called on Canadians to make a donation and called on Prime Minister Paul Martin to increase aid for poverty stricken Africa.
“I think that he has to realize that there are a lot of Canadians that really want something done,” he said.
Just after Cochrane spoke the gates opened and hundreds of fans, some who slept out over night, ran onto the grounds of Park Place to get the choice spots.
“Canadians care! Canadians care!” Host Dan Aykroyd cried to the fans before Cochrane took to the stage.
Located away from large urban centers and drawing a limited crowd, Canada’s Live 8 concert offered music fans a more intimate experience.
The Canadian concert, hosted by Aykroyd and Tom Green, was a late addition to the worldwide event and displayed a collection of mainly homegrown artists such as the Barenaked Ladies and The Tragically Hip.
Organizer Bob Geldof said Canada is in better position to increase aid to Africa because it has enjoyed years of budget surpluses.
“Today we are part of the biggest rock concert in history,” Adams told the crowd. “We’re seeing people power. I believe in that.”
Concertgoers lined up two hours before the 11 a.m. start.
“I do not know if it is going to bring anything, but now everybody talks about it, so it is good,” said Brent Johnson, 30, who lives west of Toronto.