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28 October 2014

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Antony meets Mariah Carey backstage

Antony's dream concert

Antony Makokha
Millions watched the Live 8 concert from Hyde Park. Thousands were there but our reporter Antony Makokha went one better - he was backstage with the stars. Read his diary and click the link on the right for his photo gallery.

So you watched Live 8 on television and it seemed like a bunch of famous people, and star struck fans. If it looked huge on television then it was massive, spectacular, unbelievable on site. And it was free.

You were either there or you were square and I was there. This is my diary.

Friday 1 July, 5.30am.

The alarm rings and I am up quickly, I only had fitful sleep and now I am nervous. Shortly I will be in the BBC Radio Cornwall studio with the morning presenter. We are going to be talking about Africa and I am going to be grilled live on air. My mind is racing and I can't  eat anything-no way. A shower lifts my mood a little.

7.40am. I am still antsy. I step into the studio. I fumble and try to say something coherent, something intelligent. He smiles, then he nods. That's it?
'I am through with you,' he motions. Phew! That was quick.

8.40am. Laurence Reed, the lunchtime presenter compliments me: "I like what you said this morning." During the news meeting I find out he was being genuine. They set me up with him on his show to talk some more.

12.00pm. I am in the hot seat again, but I feel a bit more relaxed. I think I performed better this time.

African Children's Choir
The African Children's Choir at Live 8

1.30pm. Free at last! Out of those claustrophobic studio walls. I made it out in one piece. There is a message for me. My sponsors - 'Music for Life' have a ticket for me for Live 8 at Hyde Park.

The African Children's Choir from South Africa will be performing and if I tag along, I could be backstage. I was a member of the African Children's Choir between 1990 and 1993, and I toured a lot with them. Music for Life is the Parent Organisation of the ACC. They sponsor needy kids all over Africa. They are the reason I am in Cornwall.

Mid afternoon: They haven't called back with any more information. I decide to take matters into my own hands and call and say that I am taking the first train I can get to Paddington. I will find them somehow, wherever they may be.

6.10pm. The train is chugging towards the North. I am reflecting on the turn of events in the last 12 hours. I daydream a lot.

12.30am. After finding out what 'the tube' and 'district and circle line' are, I end up at the Jury Hotel, Islington.  Apparently the choir members are still not back, they have been having a sound check and then they decided to pop in the studio to record a new song. It's going to be a long night.

Saturday 2 July

I wake up at 11.30 am. It's the big day. It's about to happen - the biggest simultaneous concerts on the planet. The kids are as animated as always, they are used to an audience of  hundreds, but tonight is going to be different. They are not only excited to share the stage with the superstar Mariah Carey, but they are also talking about the cause, their home, Africa. They believe Live 8 will make a big difference. You should hear them, they will melt you.

Mid afternoon: Traffic is mad, everybody is trying to inch as close to Hyde Park as possible. Security is tight, the officers look worn out  and irritable. It's 3.30pm as I make my way through the south gate, the entrance for artists only. I have missed Paul McCartney and U2, no autograph from Bono! Yeah, I know I am quite ambitious.

Thousands of heads are bobbing to Pete Doherty, I am just catching the end of...what's the song? Oh who cares, I am here at Live 8. Now I am running on adrenaline because I am not properly rested.

The stage is massive. The biggest temporary setting I have ever seen. Hundreds of the sound crew are scrambling everywhere as they reset the stage for the next performers. I never knew it was possible for so many guys to be so organised. They deserve a pat on the back.

Pete Doherty
Pete Doherty at Live 8

I find my friends and they lead me backstage to the hospitality area. Only artists and VIP's are allowed here. Unless of course you've managed to get an access wrist band as I have. To my right, there are about 30 dressing cabins for the rich and famous and to my right is the food tent. My nose quickly leads me in the direction most favourable to my stomach. There are no pasties but some delicacies here. I find all kinds of meats, even seafood, and wow look at the size of those crabs! No thank you, no shrimps for me I don't like seafood.

'Who is he?' 'Who is she?' 'Who are they?' My more knowledgeable friend, Kyle was getting exasperated with me. I don't know too many celebrities, especially British ones, I am not really into idol worship. I have read the ten commandments. I couldn't miss the likes of Bill Gates, Paul McCartney, Sting, Becks and Annie Lennox though, I'm not THAT dim! I got  an autograph from Becks, yep, David Beckham himself.

I interviewed Annie Lennox (she's my heorine), and Sting. I managed to slip into Mariah Carey's dressing room. Strictly business though. It was a hastle to get in but she was incredibly kind to me. How can you beat that? I am still walking on air.

Antony meets Sting
Antony catches up with Sting at Live 8

I have pinched myself once or twice. I have a few sore spots so I guess it all happened. But after all is said and done, will the main reason behind the gigs take centre stage? It was supposed to be all about Africa even though some of us attending scrambled to get snaps and autographs from the big names in showbiz, sports and the political scene.

Passionate pleas were uttered, gut wrenching clips were shown. Action was demanded.

Will this materialise into reality? Will the world try to end the 30,000 or more deaths we have heard about? Will Bob Geldof's second attempt to knock out poverty from the African Continent result into victory?

Eight men in suits are said to wield that power. Only time will tell.

Click the link to the right of this page to view Antony's photo-gallery from the Live 8 concert.

last updated: 06/07/05
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