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  1. Behind the famous 1980s concerts with Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Sting Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had been all over the planet with Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N'Dour by the time the 1988 Amnesty International Human Rights Now tour touched down on Africa's Ivory Coast. However, they'd never seen a crowd like the 50,000 fans at le Félicia soccer stadium. "It was a stadium of entirely black faces," Springsteen recalled recently. "Clarence [Clemons] said to me, 'Now you know what it feels like!' There were about 60 seconds where you could feel people sussing us out, and then the whole place just exploded. The band came off feeling like it was the first show we'd ever done. We had to go and prove ourselves on just what we were doing that moment on stage." The concert was one of the final stops on the Human Rights Now tour, the second of two all-star tours that Amnesty International staged in the mid-1980s to spread awareness of human rights atrocities across the globe. They were herculean efforts that made all previous benefit concerts – Live Aid included – seem like a minor undertaking. The Amnesty International tours featured once-in-a-lifetime performances by U2, Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Sting, the Police, Joan Baez, Bryan Adams and many others. However, for the past two-and-a-half decades, they've only been available as low-res VHS bootlegs and YouTube videos. On November 5th, they are finally coming out in Released: The Human Rights Concerts 1986-1998, a six-DVD package with remastered audio/video and hours of unseen footage from backstage, including new interviews (which you can watch first here). Amnesty International began plotting the first tour just weeks after Live Aid raised millions for famine victims of Ethiopia and made hundreds of millions of people around the planet aware of their plight. "Amnesty realized it wouldn't be sufficient to just do music on one day," longtime Amnesty activist Martin Lewis told Rolling Stone. "[Amnesty USA Executive Director] Jack Healey had the idea of doing a tour. It helped immensely that he went to Bill Graham, who we couldn't have done the tour without." One of the first calls they made was to U2. "It couldn't have been worst timing," the Edge said in the book U2 by U2. "We were building up to go into the studio [to record The Joshua Tree] and I was worried all the focus and concentration would be lost." But it was an offer they couldn't refuse, and they agreed to not only delay the recording of their album but actually lobby other artists to join the tour. "We rang everybody we knew," said Bono. "Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Prince…" None of those people agreed, but Amnesty wound up with a lineup guaranteed to pack stadiums around America: U2, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams, Lou Reed and Joan Baez. The six-show national tour inspired great moments; for the final three shows, Sting made a last-minute decision to reunite the Police, who hadn't performed anywhere since they broke up in early 1984. "I hadn't seen my drums in months," Stewart Copeland told Rolling Stone. "I've always been very fond of Amnesty, but if it had been for Exxon, I would have been there. Playing with my old band was an exciting prospect." Every show ended with all of the evening's performers gathering onstage to sing Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released." At the final show, the Police handed their instruments to U2. "It's been called a symbolic passing of the keys to the musical kingdom," said Copeland. "But since we had been defunct for a number of years, I'm not sure we had any keys in our possession. We joked around that Andy [summers] should de-tune his guitar before handing it over to the Edge." You can read the full article on Rolling Stone. More information about it - The Human Rights Concerts
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