The 46664 Concert 2008

Hyde Park, London.

The 46664 Concert 2008

Photographer: Peter Corkhill27 June 2008

The event combines a mixture of Africa’s finest musicians and some of the UK’s highest profile artists playing short sets over the course of the four-hour extravaganza. Celebrities turned out to help the world televised event, including Stephen Fry, Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Mandela, who was forced to endure Gordon Brown’s company. It's just what everybody wants for their birthday present.

Razorlight kick off the bash with surprising song choices, ‘Before I Fall to Pieces’ and ‘Dalston’, but the band have no time to speak out against the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, a common topic of the day. Leona Lewis provides the 46,664 attendance at Hyde Park with the track of the evening, the pop princess utilising her spellbinding vocals superbly in her rendition of ‘Bleeding Love’, after being introduced by Quincy Jones.

It's a momentum Sugababes can't build on though, the pop trio playing a disappointingly hushed and uninspiring set, Unlike Will Smith, who leaps back into the musical limelight once more, thrilling the crowd with ‘Switch’ and a mass sing along of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’. Following his rare musical performance the actor returns to hosting the 46664 event for the rest of the night.

Annie Lennox gives a heartfelt but slightly overbearing political speech before singing with the Agape children, followed by African artist Emanuel Jal, who’s emotional song ‘Rescue Me’ was an immense hit. Eddy Grant and Simple Minds both complete rousing sets, with Eddy Grant’s ‘Hope Joanna’ rivalling Leona Lewis for track of the day. Recently re-formed Simple Minds play the audience thrilling ‘Don’t You [Forget about Me]’, yet the crowd are still hanging out for both Amy Winehouse and Queen.

After Andrea Corr and Brian May play a track, Amy appears to the delight of spectators, belting out a brilliant ‘Rehab’ and ‘Valerie’ which get the crowd to their feet. After a highly unnecessary two songs from Spanish band Amaral, Bono and The Edge from U2 sent a video message to Nelson Mandela which sees them singing about the need for him to have his own national holiday. Not a bad track either.

Queen & Paul Rodgers are the last scheduled act of the night. Greeted with loud cries of enthusiasm and excitement, the band play an extended set featuring classics ‘We are the Champions’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Tie Your Mother Down’. The band also play ‘One Vision’, ‘The Show Must Go on’ and the classic Free track ‘Alright Now’, which goes down beautifully among the itchy audience. Paul Rodgers seems to be adapting to the role of Queen front man pretty well and he relishes the spotlight.

There's still time for a final track. Someone has to sing the iconic ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ track and it falls to Amy, who closes the historic event. Remarkable considering all week there have been question marks over whether she'd actually play.

As the event comes to a close, the 46664 campaign has got the media attention it deserved to help raise awareness for AIDS, the disease which has ripped apart so many communities over the world for the last three decades. On a festival level, organisers perhaps struggled to captivate the whole of Hyde Park due to the broad range of artists on show, but it still managed to give fans scintillating performances, elegant music and, of course, the traditional rubbish festival burger.

by Tom Crowther

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