Bob Geldof to the aid of Valletta homeless shelter

"Dreaming is for people who are asleep. Stay awake!"

Those were Bob Geldof's evocative and thought-provoking words in an interview in the run-up to his June 28 concert at Manoel Island in aid of YMCA Valletta.

Extracts from his interview, screened at a press conference yesterday, expressed Bob Geldof's anger and irritation at the fact that poverty could be eliminated but that people were still suffering its symptoms.

Bob Geldof, who is not just a musician but also one of the world's most prominent and successful activists in the global fight against poverty and economic injustice, said this "illogical" and "ridiculous" situation "drives me nuts".

Organisers are anticipating between 4,000 and 7,000 spectators at the rock star's live performance, being held on the eve of a public holiday at the exclusive venue and supported by HSBC and Vodafone Malta Ltd.

Concert coordinator Keith Marshall, who described Bob Geldof as "iconic", said it would take the shape of a festival, featuring performances by Maltese artistes, including Carrie & Band, with their 11-year-old drummer, Ira Losco and Winter Moods, who are emerging from hibernation for the event.

Also supporting Bob Geldof on the night are tribute bands from the UK for Coldplay, U2 and Queen.

The first 1,000 tickets, priced at Lm7, are now on sale from Vodafone's retail outlet at the university campus, while remaining tickets, at Lm10, would then go on sale from all other Vodafone outlets, Mr Marshall said. The idea was to keep the prices affordable so that it would be accessible to everyone. Another 200 tickets for the Camilleri Wines VIP area, which include seating, catering and an open bar, are available at Lm50 each.

"For YMCA, the fact that such an internationally renowned figure has agreed to perform here, helping us raise funds for our social programmes and create more awareness on homelessness, is a real morale booster," YMCA Valletta chairman Jean Paul Mifsud said.

YMCA assists troubled families, the homeless, victims of domestic violence and those living in substandard accommodation. It deals with about 50 persons per day, while more than 20 at a time, mainly women and children, find refuge at its homeless shelter, Dar Niki Cassar, which provides not only a place to sleep but also many other support services to the homeless.

The campaign YMCA Twelve Appeal is based on the fact that its total expenditure is Lm12 an hour, or Lm106,000 a year, as was the case in 2005, with the government funding 20 per cent of the budget.

Last year, the organisation saw a deficit of Lm16,000, but thanks to the upcoming concert it is aiming to end the year on a zero balance. Most of the costs should be covered by the sponsors, so all the money raised from the concert would go to the YMCA programmes, Mr Mifsud anticipated.

Bob Geldof came to fame in the mid-1970s as leader of the Boomtown Rats, which enjoyed success with singles such as Rat Trap and I Don't Like Mondays. Following the band's decline in the mid-1980s, he released a number of solo albums and has worked as a DJ, actor and TV producer.

He is most famous for being the co-author of the song Do They Know it's Christmas, released in 1984, and raising millions of dollars for those suffering from famine in Ethiopia. It became the biggest-selling single ever in the UK and led to the famous Live Aid concert.

Most recently, Bob Geldof was again at the forefront of global campaigning against poverty, particularly through the Live 8 concerts held in July last year.

"Few people in the world have a higher profile than Geldof. He is a talented musician and a global ambassador for those who do not have a voice," said Foreign Minister Michael Frendo, speaking as the minister responsible for development.

Besides the HSBC Cares for Children Fund and Vodafone, the concert is being supported by the Radisson SAS Golden Sands, the Malta Tourism Authority, Air Malta, MIDI plc, Maltapost plc, Progress Press, Keith & Co, the Resources and Infrastructure Ministry, Classic Rock, Typecult, Renaissance Productions Ltd, Camilleri Wines, Godwin's Garage, Sign-It, Probe Security, National Youth Council and XFM.

The sponsors were not only providing the funds but also the required expertise, guaranteeing a success, Mr Mifsud said of their generosity.

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