IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO TODAY…

He opens the London leg of the global event with ’Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’…

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY has kicked off LIVE 8 with a storming version of ’SGT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND’.

Backed by U2, the legend was the first artist to take to the stage for the historic event in front of 200,000 people in London’s Hyde Park.

Neither McCartney nor U2 spoke until the end when Bono said: “Paul McCartney – what a rush.”

McCartney will return to the stage later tonight to play, amongst other tracks, ’The Long And Winding Road’ before leading an all-star band in the finale.

Today will also see performances from Coldplay, REM, Madonna, Robbie Williams, Pink Floyd, Razorlight and Snow Patrol.

Other cities hosting Live 8 shows today include Paris, Rome, Berlin, Tokyo, Moscow and Philadelphia.

The Eden Project in Cornwall will boast a bill of African artists.

Over 160 bands and artists will be performing across the 10 venues today.

Live Aid founder Bob Geldof has organised the shows and alongside Make Poverty History will call for more aid for Africa, debt cancellation and fairer trade laws.

The concerts aim to raise public support and are timed to coincide with the G8 summit of world leaders, which takes place in Gleneagles in Scotland on Wednesday (July 6).

The original Live Aid concert took place on July 13, 1985 at London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium and saw performances from U2, Queen, [/a], [a] and Elton John.

Keep checking NME.COM for the latest news from Live 8.