Michael Stipe, Rufus Wainwright, Moby and surprise guest James Iha marked the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq Monday during a concert in New York interspersed with speeches by anti-war advocates like Public Enemy’s Chuck D and activist Cindy Sheehan.
The Bring ’Em Home concert, held at the Hammerstein Ballroom, kicked off with Steve Earle, who sang “Rich Man’s War” and “F the CC,” both drawn from his highly political 2004 album, “The Revolution Starts... Now.”
Moby strummed an acoustic guitar alongside singer Laura Dawn and guitarist Darin Murphy for a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s anti-war anthem “For What It’s Worth.” Devendra Banhart followed with “Heard Somebody Say” from his most recent studio album “Cripple Crow” (“I heard somebody say that the war ended today/but everybody knows it’s going still... it’s simple/we don’t want to kill”).
After Chuck D addressed the crowd, condemning the Bush administration for “deluding the citizens with weapons of mass distraction,” Wainwright delivered “Gay Messiah,” “11:11” (a song he “wrote right after 9/11”) and “Liberty Cabbage.” Wainwright finished with a cover of the Leonard Cohen-penned “Hallelujah” on piano and “Over the Rainbow,” alluding to his upcoming Rufus at Carnegie Hall date in which he’ll recreate Judy Garland’s historic 1961 concert at the venue.
Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst unleashed the scathing “When the President Talks to God” during his three-song set, declaring it “a song that goes out to the New York Press and the New Republic magazine.”
To cap the evening, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe asked the crowd, “Do you ever have one of those decades?” He was then joined by former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist/co-founder Iha and songwriter Joseph Arthur for a rendition of Arthur’s “In the Sun,” which Stipe released a charity single for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Stipe was later joined by musicians like actress/singer/activist Rain Phoenix and bassist Catherine Popper, as well as 1 Giant Leap collaborators Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman. He debuted “Don’t Talk Crazy,” a song about a husband being sent to war, and “I Have Seen Trouble,” which will be included on 1 Giant Leap’s next album. Iha played a lengthy guitar solo with an E-bow as Stipe sang, “I have been quiet/quiet is good/I have listened/and I understood.”