Went to Peter Gabriel last night with Leah. We had free tickets courtesy of the VCC.
As a young boy, I was a big Peter Grabriel fan. So has been in fairly heavy rotation since the day I first bought it on vinyl. As a testament to how much I like it, I’ve also purchased it on cassette and CD, as my listening technology changed. Us never quite did it for me, although there are certainly some tracks that stood out. And as he’d been out of the picture for 10 years (various non-studio projects & soundtracks not withstanding), I haven’t paid much attention to this latest disc, Up (although I’ve seen the video for ‘The Barry Williams Show’, which is funny). I’d never seen Peter Gabriel live, but once watched a video’d concert on MuchMoreMusic, which was interesting, so I was quite intrigued to see what sort a show he’d put on now. With free tickets, there was nothing to lose.
The show was really great. The Blind Boys of Alabama opened, and were a lot of fun. Then there was some sort of ‘traditional African Music’ duo, who were decent, although whenever I see this sort of thing (arena show, traditional garb), the cynic in me feels I’m being put on. It’s like watching those South American pipe-playing buskers all over North America: I wonder if it’s some low-fi version of Menudo.
Mr. Gabriel played a good mixture of old and new (new being unknown, old being well known by virtually all in attendance). The stage itself, right at centre ice at GM Place, was round and open on all sides. It could also rotate, which was pretty cool. The sound was fantastic. It sounded studio-crisp often, which just blew my mind. The visuals were a mixture of basic Winamp-style Visualizations and crafty use of small cameras hidden around the stage, making for some interesting mixtures. His stage crew (The Orange Men), worked amazingly fast, moving instrument stands around, cleaning up wires, etc, and generally, made everything pretty seamless. This being the last show of the tour, P.G. was pretty effusive in his praise for his opening acts (both of whom made brief appearances during his set), his backing band and his crew.
Of course, for the show, the music was only part of the story. There were all sorts of kooky things going on, including he and his backup singer (later revealed as his daughter) walking around upside down, using a talk-show tv camera, filming himself, his band and the audience (for ‘The Barry Williams Show’), rolling around inside a giant ball (like a hamster in a Hamster ball) (and jumping up an down in it too, which was really funny to watch), riding a bike around the stage, synchronised spinning with his band, and finally, for ‘Sledgehammer’, bringing out the old lightbulb-jacket (which was plugged in, requiring one of the Orange Men to follow him around and quickly prevent it from snagging on anything).
What with the easy croud banter, the fantastic sound, quirky props and crowd-pleasingly retrospective set, I’d have to say it was one of the more enjoyable arena shows I’ve seen in a long time.