With a little help from their friends - 80s music video icons joined forces for two sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl over the weekend. Longtime human rights activists and musical buddies Sting and Peter Gabriel’s Rock Paper Scissors tour rolled into town, bringing hope, healing, and a moon-soaked dance party to Los Angeles.
For those of the pre-millennial generation, having two rock legends with music that shaped much of your youth (for better or worse), the Sunday night show was just “rad!” As the music giants and their multitalented bands put together a blistering playlist of memories and a visionary peaceful future.
At times, these two far-reaching pioneers of the music evolution that became “conscious rock” for most of their hall of fame careers, were giddy and playful onstage together. “Welcome to karaoke night at the bowl,” quipped Gabriel, sticking with his unpredictable nature that Sting pointed early in the set. Gabriel even donned the duo with a new nickname, the “tantric twins,” after Sting got his friend back on his yoga mat after a 15-year absence.
During the golden age era of MTV, the two toured together with Amnesty International human rights shows in the 80s, sparking a lifelong friendship, as well as discovering both their desires for global changes in the environment, world poverty and of course human rights. Making this sonic undertaking and checking their egos at the door even more special. As Sting pointed out in a January press release for the tour, “I am very happy we are taking the chance to experiment this way. I think people will be intrigued, I certainly am.”
The Sunday night show exceeded Gabriel’s karaoke prediction, as the two vocal masters triumphed, both covering and singing back-up to several of each other’s catalog of hits. All the while weaving front-page tragedies as shootings in Baton Rouge, Dallas, Orlando and so on, to their home country England's Brexit while they were on the road in the states.
With the weight of some much recent tragedy and violence around the world, the packed Bowl with many raised hands for peace and illuminated cell phones joined their heroes for somber renditions of "Driven to Tears" into "Fragile."
After a five-song opening and introductions, Sting took the reins with a soulful version of Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey”, while Gabriel’s sexy Barry White-ish version of “If You Love Someone Set Them Free” sparked dirty dancing in the isles, later in the over two and half hour set.
As the almost full moon night came to a close, Gabriel eloquently sang the beautiful "Love Can Heal." The song dedicated to his friend and a member of British Parliament, Jo Cox, who was brutally murdered in June, by a man who Gabriel described as “a racist.”
The dance party kicked into its highest gear, with the uplifting “Desert Rose” as throngs lifted their proverbial boom boxes in the equality driven and rainbow flag lit “In Your Eyes.” Closing the celebratory LA summer night with a beat-heavy “Every Breath You Take” and the pulsing booty-shaking “Sledgehammer” encore left the sold-out crowd happy and maybe even a little more hopeful.