Human Rights Concerts

Today I have had a revelation – a musical one, to make things clear. As so often in such case it was an accidental discovery but one that is actually so striking in its grandeur and (musical) significance that it has made me have goosebumps. Some may say I am exaggerating, but I honestly had chills listening to the song which came on on the radio, and afterwards reading more deeply into the subject I had the chills again. What is all this about?

So, I heard a song by Sting live in concert. The song was a Spanish rendition of his “They dance alone”, performed live in Chile in 1990 during a concert entitled “An Embrace of Hope“. It was in Spanish – under the title of “Ellas Danzan Solas” – and what made it even more special was the guests who appeared on stage – the mothers, wives, daughters, families of those, who have disappeared under the military junta which ruled Chile until 1990 – the women came with the photos of the missing husband and sons pinned to their clothes or on boards. If you know the lyrics to the song you will surely remember that it was written as a protest song concerning that particular historic event. I found one clip of this song where the reaction of the huge crowd can also be seen. I know the quality on this might be low, but it’s still touching and worth watching. And hear how the bass works on the second part.

But as it turns out this is just a small part of a enormous project which I honestly did not know of – which makes me bit ashamed (but maybe I blame it at my age). So this was the revelation. “The Embrace of Hope” was only one of 4 massive concerts held throughout the years, with participation of some of the biggest musicians and bands who  are also highly engaged in the charity (I read somewhere that Peter Gabriel said himself that in the 1980s he became a charity whore). The result was that some of the biggest names of the music at that time (and most of them still are) participated in 4 different concerts. And now, to mark the 25th anniversary of the most high-profile of all the concerts in the series – the “Human Rights Now!” world tour and the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which were marked in 2013, the Amnesty International has digitally restored and released the shows on CDs and DVDs. Three of the four films had never been available in any format since their one-time-only airing on TV – making these new releases all the more exciting. Especially to the likes of me, as I must admit that all events such as Live Aid, Live 8, Mandela Concerts and all the other famous and unforgettable huge charity events are, and always have been, special.

You can read more about the entire series of concerts on this website: You will also find a collection of unique videos, interviews, memories of the musicians who made up the outstanding line up – including Sting, Peter Gabriel, U2, Sinead O’Connor, Bruce Springsteen,some of which are my firm favourites. And a link to buying the box sets. Which I will surely will do,  just when I get the needed amount (piggy bank fund is officially open now).

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