Elton John kicks off world-spanning gigs for climate, vaccines
Paris (AFP) –
A "once-in-a-generation" global music event kicked off on Saturday with Korean megastars BTS and Elton John launching Global Citizen Live -- 24 hours of shows around the world to raise awareness on climate change, vaccine equality and famine.
The "Rocketman" got things going in Paris, performing hits including "Tiny Dancer" and "This is Your Song" in front of the Eiffel Tower in a dazzling green suit, despite a recent hip injury.
The broadcast on social media opened with a pre-recorded performance by BTS in Seoul.
Live performances were due from Billie Eilish, Coldplay and Jennifer Lopez in New York's Central Park, where Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will also be on stage.
Ed Sheeran will play in Paris alongside Black Eyed Peas and Stormzy, while Stevie Wonder is headlining in Los Angeles.
"There has never been a greater need for advocacy than right now," said Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra, hosting the live broadcast from Paris.
Global Citizen says it wants one billion trees planted, one billion vaccines delivered to the poorest countries and meals for 41 million people on the brink of famine.
Tens of thousands of spectators are due to attend the biggest concerts, on condition of vaccination proof or negative Covid tests.
This week's comeback gig by The Fugees in New York -- their first in 15 years -- was also shown as part of the event.
More pre-recorded performances were due from Green Day in Los Angeles, DJ superstar Alok in Rio, Kylie Minogue in London and Andrea Bocelli in Tuscany.
"Across six continents, artists will help rally citizens in demanding that governments, major corporations and philanthropists work together to defend the planet and defeat poverty," NGO Global Citizen said in a statement.
It said it was focusing "on the most urgent, interrelated threats hitting those in poverty the hardest -- climate change, vaccine equity, and famine".
- Pressuring governments -
Global Citizen has been behind other high-profile charity events, including "Vax Live: The Concert To Reunite The World" earlier this year in Los Angeles.
That brought together musicians, actors, celebrities, world leaders and even the pope, in a united call for global vaccinations to fight Covid-19.
The organisation describes itself as a movement with a mission to end extreme poverty by 2030.
Its app uses incentives such as concert tickets to encourage users into pressuring governments on issues around sustainability and equality.
Tickets to Saturday's shows were distributed free of charge to randomly selected people who signed up for the app and shared its petitions and messages on social media.
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, lent his support to the latest campaign, urging vaccine equality.
"We now face a two-track pandemic of haves and have-nots," he said.
"We cannot disregard this gross inequity or become complacent."
Elton John almost had to cancel his performance following a hip injury, but said he said he would wait until after the Global Citizen Live gig for his operation "as I don't want to let a charity down".
© 2021 AFP