Simon Harper casts a critical eye over yesterday's historic Live 8 shenanigans...
They say charity begins at home, which rather appropriately is where I'm watching the "momentous" Live 8 gig.
At ten sites around the world, including London's Hyde Park, pop stars and eager punters have come together to Make Poverty History.
It's difficult to ignore quite how sinister that campaign title sounds - from the time we first get taught about "history" at school, it's a fetishistic version, with war, death and pestilence given precedence among the most memorable events.
If the Make Poverty History campaign fulfils its ultimate aim, which would be an emphatic victory for justice, how long will it be before our pathological penchant for nostalgia television (I Heart the Third World, anyone?) takes over? The idea of celebrities enthusing about how they remember watching footage of starving Africans is surely only a focus group away from reality.
One thing that may have already been consigned to history is Sir Paul McCartney's dignity, although kicking off proceedings with a riproaring, U2-assisted Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band goes some way to undoing this.
Bono's position as leading allround do-gooder may have been undermined by suing for the return of a hat he wore nearly two decades ago, but he's clearly at home on the moral high ground. It's fair to say that even the subtler nuances of his preaching don't go unnoticed by the 200,000 people gathered in Hyde Park during a predictably understated performance from the Irishmen, which sees a flock of birds let loose from the stage.
Amongst the fist-pumping we're treated to television coverage that is as unswervingly awestruck as that of a Royal wedding. In fact, it's bewildering that Trinny and Susannah haven't been wheeled out to dissect the wardrobe of these pop ambassadors ("Are you still wearing those sunglasses, Bono? They're so last millennium."), such is the glossy, MTV-style aura surrounding the event. Only Jonathan Ross, clad in a typically "tasteful" suit, makes the coverage watchable, with a string of hilarious one-liners.
Lingering shots of Gwyneth Paltrow punctuate Coldplay's performance. Still, her husband's brief tribute to denim-clad rockers Status Quo, who aren't part of Live 8, is oddly euphoric - a nice touch which harks back to the Live Aid concert of twenty years ago.
Matt Lucas and David Walliams provide a comic interlude, in the guise of Lou and Andy. Alarmingly, there is a spooky resemblance between Lucas' character and Sir Elton John, whose chubby fingers hammer away at his piano keys during Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting. Less successful is Elton's duet with Pete Doherty, who appears barely able to stand let alone sing.
More inappropriate still is the simpering Dido, whose emotional outpourings sound a tad trivial when compared to AIDS and famine. Despite her genuine intentions, Dido's tepid songs aren't exactly fitting for the occasion, and you can only guess that Youssou N'Dour decided to appear onstage with her for Thank You and Seven Seconds in order to empathise with the millions of people suffering throughout Africa.
His performance is the sole turn by an African musician at Hyde Park, not counting the children's choir who troop on during Mariah Carey (the Cornwall line-up has a strong contingent, though), which makes it even stranger as to why it is so relatively low-key.
The upbeat atmosphere isn't allowed to sag for long, as Ricky Gervais introduces REM, after reluctantly performing his David Brent dance. The Athens, Georgia act seem custom-built for moments like this. Man on the Moon captures the universal feel of Live 8 better than even they could have hoped; a rousing sing-along that enraptures those who won tickets in the lottery.
Partly due to the top-heavy bill, much of the afternoon is anticlimactic - posh-boy piano-rockers Keane and the inexplicably massive Razorlight struggle to compete with the globe-conquering acts that preceded them. Instead, it's left to Snoop Dogg's expletive-strewn set to inject some excitement, and keep the BBC complaints department busy for a few days.
With the evening comes the return of the big guns. Madonna stops talking about Kabbalah for long enough to do a spot of reminiscing, Scissor Sisters work the crowd into a glamorous frenzy, Sting probably isn't accustomed to lasting only fifteen minutes, and the remaining half of The Who knock out some power chords and killer choruses.
Pink Floyd, performing as a quartet for the first time in 24 years, provide poignant renditions of Money and Wish You Were Here as part of their welcome, albeit one-off, reunion.
But it's Paul McCartney who steals the show with his second stint of the day. Unfortunately, he misses the only suitable occasion for performing We All Stand Together, but given that he might have been tempted to update it with the help of a (Crazy) Frog Chorus, it's probably for the best.
Running through a select few Beatles numbers, managing to keep his thumbs to himself, he leads a triumphant finale of Hey Jude - it may be too premature to celebrate, but nevertheless spirits are higher than Mariah Carey's hemline.
Then it's over to the Philadelphia leg of Live 8 - for those unsure, that's the Pennsylvanian city, and nothing to do with the soft cheesy spread loved by dieters with retarded taste-buds. But it's hard to forget the sea of sloppy grins that have been televised; event instigator Sir Bob Geldof is uncharacteristically overwhelmed, after having resembled an over-enthusiastic telesales phone operator in the weeks leading up to the concert, but his message is perfectly clear.
There have been some outstanding spectacles: Macca playing Sgt Pepper, Jonathan Ross' suit, and the other members of U2 being allowed to speak in public.
It's a victory for an indisputably good cause, but the hardest work is still to be done. Live 8 is everything you expect from such a gig - enlightening and entertaining, if highly sanctimonious. The biggest let-down is the Beeb's team of interviewers, who seem disconcertingly preoccupied with how old musicians were at the time of Live Aid. Perhaps we'll always be obsessed with history.