Since 1961, Amnesty International has been raising awareness to human rights abuses and violations of international law, and for more than half of their existence, they have done this through means beyond traditional lobbying.
Beginning in 1986, the Human Rights Concerts toured the globe to raise funds and awareness of Amnesty International. Acts like Bruce Springsteen, Sting, U2, Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and more took the stage to perform for a cause.
This November 5th, a six-disc DVD box set and two-disc CD companion set, titled ¡Released!, will be issued via Shout! Records highlighting the concerts, the artists involved, and Amnesty International’s mission.
Outside of the archival footage from the Human Rights Concerts from 1986-1998, it will also feature recent performances from Coldplay, Green Day and Mumford & Sons and documentaries featuring Sting, Bono and Springsteen.
Three out of the four concert films have never been issued as video or audio recordings, and in the box-set, 14 hours and 18 minutes of the 17 hours of footage have never been available on home video in North America.
Martin Lewis, an Amnesty activist and producer, restored and produced the concert video and audio for ¡Released!.
“Ever since Pete Townshend’s pioneering performance for Amnesty in 1979, the rock music community has been spectacular in its support,” said Lewis in a press release. “These concerts broke new ground.”
When we spoke with Lewis about the project and the history, he elaborated, “One of the things that we started to see were terrific collaborations between artists. Back on the 1986 tour, you started to get Bono performing with the Police. When it got to the 1988 tour, now Sting and Peter Gabriel would do duets, Sting and Bruce Springsteen would sing on each other’s songs, Sting and Bruce Springsteen performing Bruce’s The River, and then Bruce returns the compliment and performs Every Breath You Take with Sting. And these collaborations made the shows even more special.”
To celebrate the release, there will be a world premiere of ¡Released! (a 95-minute film of highlights from the concerts) and Light a Candle! (the 40-minute documentary about the history of the series) on November 3 at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles. On Tuesday, December 10th, The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan will present the New York Premieres of the two films.
– Carl Harp & Jude Dsouza / 98.5 WNCX