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Peter Gabriel delivers range of music, emotion

Peter Gabriel at TD Garden, Boston Peter Gabriel at TD Garden, Boston
There was music and magic at TD Garden Monday, lots of it. Peter Gabriel was on stage for more than two hours, and there was a wide range of A-level stuff, from blistering art-funk to atmospheric prog-rock.
Warmth, spirituality and passion — all there. More than a few times did Gabriel play the part of the masterful pied piper, leading his merry band as they skipped, trotted, twirled and strutted in concentric circles or around the perimeter of the stage.

But first there was talk. A professorial Gabriel — he sported a long black anorak vest over a blue shirt, black pants and black boots — strolled out onto the stage as the crowd was settling in and the lights were still on. Gabriel, at 62, is rotund and balding, with short, clipped gray hair and a white goatee.

Gabriel explained the concert that he and his six mates were about to perform would begin with an unfinished song with the lights on — just him on piano and bassist Tony Levin — and would continue in a low-amped vein, as they stripped down songs to their essentials. He noted these demo-like renditions were sometimes more interesting than the final product. Part 2 would be more electric — faves and rarities from his post-Genesis solo career — and then Part 3 would be the sequential playing of all songs from his mainstream breakthrough album, 1986's "So." (It comes out Oct. 23, repackaged as "So (25th Anniversary Immersion Box)" a deluxe, multiple CD/DVD/LP set for about $100. Yes, technically, it's 26 years "»)

And so the journey began, although the straight talk intro and lights-on bit made the opening disarmingly low-key. In the second song, the once-menacing tone of "Shock the Monkey" was replaced by a jazzy vamp. Was this a signal that we were getting Gabriel Lite? No. Soon, as "Family Snapshot" unfolded — it's a song about fame and infamy written from an assassin's viewpoint — the drama kicked in. Midway through, the house went dark, and the lighting rigs — five mobile units on stage and numerous ones overhead — exploded, big time. "I want to be somebody," sang Gabriel. "You were like that too/And if you don't get given, you learn to take/And I will take you."

Gabriel and company packed a myriad of punches, from the rhythm-heavy "Digging in the Dirt," "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" to the jaunty lilt of "Solsbury Hill" and the redemptive wash of "Red Rain." "In Your Eyes," a romantic song with a touch of darkness, had neat new syncopation, verging on reggae and calypso.

For years, Gabriel has embraced technology — lights, staging and video — and has created a synchronous mesh with his music, however which way it twists. It can be fierce; it can be friendly. It's often complex. This staging was more stark and minimalistic than some of his tours, but it was dynamic. The mobile lighting rigs (think "Alien") on stage were moved about by a crew dressed in dark jumpsuits and mesh facemasks. The lights on the tower arms loomed, swooped, hovered, and probed. They could be ominous, as in "No Self Control" and "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)" and then almost comforting in "Mercy Street." There they seemed to cradle Gabriel. He performed the song, in part about a girl painfully missing her late father, on his back, coiling into a near-fetal position as he sang about her desire to be "in your daddy's arms again."

Everything was abetted by the video images, mostly live concert shots. They were projected on the side screens and behind the group, taken from numerous angles, including directly above the stage, some in black and white, some distorted. With his veteran crack band in tow — Brookline-born Levin, guitarist David Rhodes, keyboardist David Sancious and drummer Manu Katche — Gabriel added to his legacy on this tour. He also had two female backup singers, Jenny Abrahamson — who took Kate Bush's role on the "Don't Give Up" duet — and Linnea Olsson.

The finale was "Biko," a song Gabriel's been using in this slot for decades, and it never fails to nearly bring tears. It's a somber, menacing, drum-driven hymn about the anti-apartheid rebel Steve Biko, killed by South African police in 1977. On Monday, Gabriel dedicated it to young rebels today, some of whom have given their lives for a cause they believe in. The somber tune evolved into something spiritual and uplifting when the closing "uh-uh-oh" chant was sung on stage and out in the crowd, as the band walked off one by one, leaving Katche to pound out the beat. Emotions high. Lights out. And then, a single beam of light shone down from the roof in front of the stage.

© Capecodonline ,by Jim Sullivan

Media

PG: Clips @ TD Garden in Boston, September 24, 2012 TimmyCVideos

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