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Peter Gabriel’s stage shows: Tours without frontiers

Peter Gabriel performs at the Bell Centre in Montreal Peter Gabriel performs at the Bell Centre in Montreal Allen McInnis
From the days of his hallucinogenic Genesis wardrobe onward, it has always been clear that Peter Gabriel doesn’t believe in the stand-there-and-sing school of live performance. This is a far from exhaustive look at some of the indelible sights and sounds of previous tours.

The entrance (1978-1982). On some of his earliest solo tours, Gabriel and his bandmates would take the scenic route to the stage, entering from the back of the hall and manoeuvring through the audience. The collective surprise surely added to the jolt of Intruder when that exercise in nocturnal menace opened the 1980 shows.

Lay Your Hands on Me (1982, 1986-1987). Predating the popularity of crowd-surfing by nearly a decade, Gabriel would let himself fall on fans’ outstretched arms at the end of this shuddering, atmospheric number. Now that the practice is a regular sport in concert venues, his visionary streak might prevent him from re-creating the centrepiece of the So tour, even if there weren’t practical considerations. "I haven’t got Lay Your Hands on Me (in the Back to Front set list) at the moment," Gabriel said in July. "We’ll see. I may be a little heavier to carry now."

Secret World (1993). The tour in support of Us was high-concept from start to finish, but one of the most striking visual elements was the stage exit at the end of the main set, with Gabriel’s band members disappearing one by one into an open suitcase.

Downside Up (2002). In one of the most creative uses of the Growing Up tour’s vertical set design — and in an example of his sometimes literal theatrical interpretations — Gabriel and backing vocalist (and daughter) Melanie Gabriel spun upside down and took a moonwalk on a circular track.

The set list for the Warm Up tour (2007). The European tour’s title teased a new album or globe-trotting trek, but in retrospect it likely applied to the long-ignored album tracks Gabriel reheated for the occasion. Perhaps sensing the average North American audience would prefer hearing So in its entirety, he didn’t book U.S. or Canadian dates.

The Rhythm of the Heat (2010). The New Blood tour didn’t feature a budget-busting stage set, but with an orchestra, no rock instrumentation and radical rearrangements of familiar songs, the concerts were audacious all the same. The symphonic deconstruction of this 1982 track’s climactic percussive frenzy was particularly ingenious.

© The Gazette, by Jordan Zivitz


Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes, Sept 18 2012 stesul

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