Every July 7, the people of Japan celebrate Tanabata, or the Star Festival, making it an auspicious date for the two local star-studded Live Earth climate change concerts. An estimated 12,000 people at the Makuhari Messe venue in Chiba Prefecture, just east of Tokyo, were treated to sets by major domestic acts such as female vocalists Kumi Koda and Ayaka, as well as international performers Linkin Park and Rihanna.
The other Live Earth Japan show, which took place simultaneously in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto before a crowd of 3,000 at Toji temple, featured domestic performers such as veteran electro-pop act Yellow Magic Orchestra and female vocalist Ua.
The Tokyo show got off to a raucous start at noon with a high-energy set by Japanese rap-rockers Rize.
Between sets, audience members could educate themselves about the climate crisis in a hall adjoining the main concert venue where environmental organizations such as Friends of the Earth and A Seed Japan had booths distributing books, pamphlets and eco-friendly goods.
“We are here for one reason and one reason only,” said rapper Xzibit, making one of the relatively few explicit references to the global climate crisis during the nine-hour show. “We have only one planet Earth.”
For many, the highlight of the Tokyo show was Linkin Park’s hour-long performance, despite being halted for more than 10 minutes due to a dangerous crush of fans in the area in front of the stage.
“We love coming to Japan,” Linkin Park drummer Rob Bourdon tells Billboard.com. “We’ve been here a bunch of times and we have a great fan base. I think that was very helpful in creating awareness and getting people out to the event.
“It’s hard to say exactly how much this will do, but I think it’s a great start to get people thinking about it,” he adds. “We really do believe in the cause — we’ve hired somebody to help us make our tour ‘green,’ and most of the trucks and buses on our upcoming Projekt Revolution tour have bio-diesel engines. It adds up to about 200 tons less of carbon emissions.”
Female vocalist Cocco brought the environmental issue closer to home by making an impassioned speech about the American military’s new heliport at Futenma in her native Okinawa Prefecture in southwestern Japan and its expected negative impact on the local ecology. “We can’t do anything about it, but we can raise our voices in protest,” Cocco said, nearly breaking into tears.
Coverage from Live Earth concerts around the world continues throughout the day at Billboard.com. For more on Live Earth and the greening initiatives driving the music industry, visit Billboard’s Going Green microsite.