Peter Gabriel – Human Rights Now! (Virtuoso 121)

Human Rights Now! (Virtuoso 121)

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan – September 27th, 1988

(71:28):  Opening, Of These Hope, Games Without Frontiers, Red Rain, Shock The Monkey, No Self Control, Don’t Give Up, Sledgehammer, Band Introduction, In Your Eyes, Biko

While rock and roll since its inception had a political dimension, by the eighties it truly discovered its force to raise awareness (and funds) for specific causes.  What began as charity recordings ended up into the massive Human Rights Now! caravan.  Not satisfied with a song and a televised concert, this event was twenty concerts in six weeks scheduled on five of the seven continents (Antarctica and, inexplicably, Australia were omitted).  

Human Rights Now! was organized by Amnesty International to draw attention to the fortieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. 

Peter Gabriel Human Rights Now! on Virtuoso is the complete set from the Tokyo Dome on September 22nd, 1988.  Gabriel was the penultimate act, playing right before Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band.  The sound quality is excellent stereo with one tape flip after “Don’t Give Up.” 

Gabriel was backed by David Rhodes on guitar and David Sancious on keyboards along with Manu Katche on drums, Shankar on violin and Darryl Jones on bass. 

The set is notable for the inclusion of the opening number “Of These, Hope” from the soundtrack of the Martin Scorsese film The Last Temptation Of Christ.  The movie opened the previous summer and the soundtrack released in 1989.  They actually play the reprise of the number, beginning with the haunting double violin played by L. Shankar before morphing into the more rock section.

It’s an intriguing piece of work, a summation of his interest in world music in the late eighties.  They stretch it out to almost seven minutes with Youssour N’Dour chanting in lieu of Baaba Maal.

“This is about nationalism,” Gabriel says afterwards, while introducing the next song.  “Which is like racism, destroying the rights of others” before the same alternate arrangement of “Games Without Frontiers” which made its debut on the So tour.  

In “Red Rain,” the airy piano arpeggios stand in direct contrast with the deep echo of the drums, producing a majestic sound in the venue.  At the song’s end, they wait one beat before launching into “Shock The Monkey.”  A song about jealousy, it doesn’t exactly fit into the political themes of the event, but is fun nevertheless.

After “No Self Control,” they play “Don’t Give Up” from the latest album.  In earlier stops of this tour Tracy Chapman sang the Kate Bush part.  Since she didn’t make it to Japan Gabriel himself sings all the parts.  He curiously drops the pitch of his voice for the female part.

“Sledgehammer” starts off with a slow and peaceful rock introduction before the familiar dance beats.  Sancious does a bit of jamming on the keyboards in the middle, encouraging the audience to dance along.

The band play the rhythm of “In Your Eyes” while Gabriel introduces the various members, calling them “a most remarkable collection of musicians” and gives each of them a little plus, calling David Rhodes “rambunctious,” Sancious “legendary” and N’Dour “one of the finest singers in the world today.”

After introducing the band they play “In Your Eyes.”  Youssou N’Dour reprises his role in the studio recording with his counterpoint chanting and even singing one of the verses. 

After a moment of cheering they return for the only encore “Biko,” one of Gabriel’s most explicit political songs.  He refers to the song as “one man’s struggle for the rights of his people who was murdered in a jail in South Africa.”  In contrast to much of the set, this arrangement starts off very soft, almost as a chant, before building to a dramatic climax.   

Human Rights Now! is the first silver pressed edition of Gabriel’s set.  The excellent sound quality along with the rarity of the performances make this one worth having.

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