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Review: Peter Gabriel delivers the hits on his own terms

Peter Gabriel provided a few surprises Wednesday night at Verizon Theatre Peter Gabriel provided a few surprises Wednesday night at Verizon Theatre

Grand Prairie - A little more than halfway through Peter Gabriel’s performance at Verizon Theatre Wednesday evening, a fan from the quaint-sized audience screamed out, "Time to Shock the Monkey, Peter."

After a brief pause, Gabriel responded, "Trying to give it up."

At 61 and having moved in a different musical direction since his prime more than 20 years ago, you sense Gabriel would like to give up the music that made him rich and famous.

But rather than just eject his hit-filled catalog, Gabriel took a different approach and had fun with it.

"We threw away the band," Gabriel told the audience at the start of his more than two-hour show.

Rarely touring and having not hit DFW since 2003, Gabriel covered some other artist’s favorites as well as his own with just an orchestra. The result is sometimes a creative success, and please-stop misses. The overall effect produced an uneven show, but enjoyable from the standpoint of applauding a guy who tried something a little different.

Some notable orchestras from London to Boston have covered classic rock artist hits, such as Pink Floyd’s Us and Them. Seldom, however, does the artist provide vocals.

Gabriel’s voice still sounds the same, with the same bizarre range.

Adapting some of the music to orchestra is seamless and brilliant – Rhythm of the Heat and Signal to Noise are as good as if not better with an orchestra as the accompaniment.

A flute playing during Mercy Street provided a surprise and pleasant sound to the song. The string sounds in Blood of Eden worked well. Solisbury Hill is uplifting with any sound.

But arguably Gabriel’s most eternal hit, In Your Eyes, was strangely a miss with an orchestra. His cover of Paul Simon’s Boy in a Bubble was criminal. Gabriel’s renditions of Heroes, Apre Moi and Wallflower were mostly misses, as they all sounded identical with his trademark slow, sad sounds.

Those painful Gabriel sounds work well with Don’t Give Up or Mercy Street, which he played Wednesday, but don’t fit every tune.

With one song remaining in the show, the same fan screamed out, "Still got a Sledgehammer left, don’t you?"

Gabriel didn’t respond this time. That one he was able to give up.

© dfw, by Mac Engel

1 comment

  • Elizabeth
    Elizabeth Friday, 17 June 2011 07:09 Comment Link Report

    I agree with some of what you said. It's absolutely true that adding an orchestra and taking away a band will totally change the songs, some for better some for worse. The fact that PG was artistically creative and brave enough to try it is why I love him.
    I'll agree the show was inconsistant, but I disagree strongly that Boy in the Bubble was a failure. My husband and I were in tears from his performance. It was, as PG put it, stripping all the African energy and irony out of the song and making it a simple, sad ode that grieves the reality of this brave new world. I also loved Wallflower and Heroes but to aech his own right? I was moved :)
    Above all, I was really impressed with his humility. He just walked right onto the stage the second after the lights went low and started talking to us as if we were a PTA meeting or a small convention he was speaking at, not like has played stadiums in every country in the world for the last 50 years.
    What a beautiful man

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