“Last Temptations” - The Amnesty International “Human Rights Now!” concert at Wembley Stadium Friday 2nd September 1988. Review by Ted Sayers.
This concert was the first of a series throughout the world to publicise the forthcoming fortieth anniversary of the Declaration Of Human Rights. The tour consists of excellent sets by Youssou N’Dour, Peter Gabriel; Tracy Chapman; Sting and Bruce Springsteen. Having said that, Wembley Stadium is by far the worst possible venue for this event. The sound is of the most terrible quality due mainly to the shape of the place; echoes abound and sometimes combine with the general; bad acoustics. As a whole, the day was an unmitigated success - at least from our point of view. The bombardment of Amnesty International leaflets continued well into the early evening.
Surprisingly, Peter was the second act on which caught us all unawares. His choice of set opener was nothing short of shocking. This was the rhythmic pieces taken from the forthcoming soundtrack to the film The Last Temptation Of Christ, called Of These Hope. It was a rather tragic piece, typical of the atmospheric music Peter writes and quite obviously film music.
The set after this was short of surprises but big on “Greatest hits”. The tracks flowed. Games Without Frontiers was first as Peter’s comment on nationalism complete with goose-stepping. It was a strange experience to be surrounded by non-Gabriel fans as Peter performed but as the set progressed, soon these non-fans would get something to remember. But first we were treated to Shock The Monkey, Family Snapshot, Sledgehammer and Don’t Give Up all of which provided a valuable point of reference for these lost unfortunates. And so Peter received the first standing ovation of the day - from those not already upright!
The set was rounded off with an invaluable version of In Your Eyes before Peter left the stage only to return to cries for the inevitable Biko. But this Biko was not so straightforward. The musical accompaniment was provided in the early part mainly by the backing vocalists, for an amazingly restrained version. The vocals were whispered (yes, WHIPSPERED) to give it even more atmosphere than usual. But the anthem did build to its normal air-punching self.
Peter returned regularly throughout the day to do various introductions and
to co-perform the encores on Bruce Springsteen’s set but to be honest,
the day’s highlights were definitely provided by him and then Tracy Chapman’s
set. Okay, I am biased, but I think these were the sets with feeling and which
radiated a distinct sincerity. Sting lacked a little something (which he normally
has) and Springsteen - a very powerful set with some great ROCK and ROLL.
It was difficult to judge Peter’s set from a technical point of view due to the poor sound but as usual his performance was the usual 110%. If you missed it well, you have only yourselves to blame!