When Peter Gabriel set out to do his first looking back tour, he definitely realised that he would have to do something pretty spectacular. Always one for combining elements of art to form a stimulating live show, Peter Gabriel has a lot to live up to. Recently Blu Ray releases of his older shows prove how ahead of the times he was, using pre Go Pro mounted Head cams, lighting rigs and screens that scaled the walls and little flourishes of presentation that Madonna, Michael Jackson, and any arena touring artist now owes a debt too.
Of course, like all his other live tours this show is an intricate experience. The team efforts are truly at full steam to create a multifaceted visceral sensation overload. At times it is the most rewarding cinematic film, during songs like Mercy Street the use of the stage screens and moving manned lighting system work in tandem to create sharp-edged lights with soft flows. Peter lies curled in the middle of a target and is filmed from above writhing and wriggling. The lighting is actually quite simple, but effectively used. That shows the difference between bands who use excessive lights terribly to ones who use a few with inspired trickery. Well placed strobes, powerful led side lights and the overhead rotating heads are all that are required for the most part. There are some spots here and there but considering lots of arena acts use three times as much as Gabriel and display half the results. The gentle rhythms the light emphasize during In Your Eyes, or the rainbow chasing throughout Solsbury Hill are simple.
Two new songs were also played live; opener What Lies Ahead & Why Don’t You Show Yourself. The first is new to this final bit of touring. Peter has explained that he has several new songs in the works and so these two are probably testing the waters for a new album, which would be his first of entirely new material since Up. What Lies Ahead is co written by his son, and at the moment features cello, piano and bass guitar. It sees Peter exploring his excessively lower formant dangerously wavering on Tom Waits impression. It is moody, as the piano and cello combo naturally incites. However we can imagine that with the right studio work the track will flourish under layers of strings and sensitivity. Why Don’t You Show Yourself has been toured a little more and has come on with a lot of gusto and robust. It is natural for songs to become a little more romantic and sombre with age, however the title is sung with a really excellent melody and doubled well by backing singers Jennie Abrahamson & Linnea Olsson.
The sonic clarity was phenomenal. If each night sounded as good as that night did to me I would be impressed. The separation between instruments was excellent, each filling its own void. The crisp high’s were accented by appropriately felt but not overloaded low end. The drums were tightly wound and Manu Katche differentiated the sparsity of points in songs like Biko to the complexity and fill heavy version of Red Rain. What also was revealed is some of the imperfection that Peter’s DVD’s lack due to them being excessively polished and at times re recorded (see the blu Ray review – coming soon). Peter had returned from a cancelled show in Lyon (due to a recent undisclosed illness) and his voice at times was particularly raw. Solsbury for example he was noticeably trying to hit the top notes and really pushing his voice. A lot of people appreciated that he had pursued the date to avoid rescheduling or leaving fans disappointed. Some would argue that he should have cancelled if he wasn’t able to deliver 100%. Another amusing moment was with the false start of That Voice Again. Missing the right piano sound Peter explained it was the ‘abbreviated version’ and then addressed the crowd explaining Gaetano Pesce has a saying that ‘ Beauty in the future, will lie in the imperfection.’ Peter followed that up with ‘It is a motto with have close to our heart.’ Witty and humanising.
Some of the songs have taken on a new lease of life, especially the show stopping/or starting Family Snapshot. If you have seen the Back to Front Film you will know that during the intense middle of the song the house lights are off and the stage is blazed in white chasing lights. The album version in comparison to the live version is a little lacklustre, the live version has urgency and natural sounding drums really create new pace to the song. Red Rain and Milgram’s 37 also sound noticeably more human and intricate. If you’re fans of faithful live versions then you really would be uncomfortable with Milgram’s 37.
The manner of tricks used and the precise humanness to a lot of could be seen as clinically, yet there are enough frays and specs within that you are still connected throughout. From live processing of Kinect cameras, to attacking old CRT monitors with drills, everyone is essential to the aspect of performance. The assistant to the ‘tripod lights on rails’ that pummel Peter through No Self Control are used as part of the cast during We Do As We Are Told(Milgram’s 37) attacking like brainwashed soldiers standing firm and stig like through the song.
- What Lies Ahead (Acoustic)
- Come Talk to Me (Acoustic)
- Shock the Monkey (Acoustic)
- Family Snapshot
- Digging in the Dirt
- Secret World
- The Family and the Fishing Net
- No Self Control
- Solsbury Hill
- Why Don’t You Show Yourself
- Red Rain
- Don’t Give Up
- That Voice Again
- Mercy Street
- Big Time
- We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)
- This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds)
- In Your Eyes
- The Tower That Ate People
Lead vocals and Piano: Peter Gabriel
Guitar and vocals: David Rhodes
Bass, keyboard, and vocals: Tony Levin
Keyboard: David Sancious
Drums: Manu Katché
Vocals: Jennie Abrahamson & Linnea Olsson
Thanks to Alan Perry for the supplied images for this post, please visit his website for a hogs head of other photos from various shows.