From prog-rock visionary with Genesis to unlikely pop trailblazer in the 1980s to world music grandee in more recent times, Peter Gabriel has had quite an innings. It’s little wonder that such an eclectic back catalogue results in a delightfully offbeat and strange show.
This is the last night of the veteran Englishman’s tour and there’s a celebratory mood on stage, not least in that brilliant 50-minute segment that sees his emblematic 1986 album, So, played in its entirety.
It’s the album that spawned the totemic hit, "Sledgehammer", as well as the arresting Kate-Bush duet, "Don’t Give Up" and both sound immense tonight. The latter is a rambunctious belter that finds his band playing out of their skins while the former features the fine vocals of comparative newcomer Jennie Abrahamson. Her singing, and that of Swedish compatriot Linnea Olsson, offers a beguiling counterpoint to Gabriel’s distinctive vocals.
The So performance is bookended by material from Gabriel’s extensive portfolio including the touching "Family Snapshot" from 1980. At the outset, he talks about dividing the set into "starters", "mains" and "desert" and bizarrely opts to perform the first handful of songs with the house-lights switched on full. It’s a ploy that might have sounded good on paper, but it proves far too distracting to work in reality.
Thankfully, normal service kicks in after 20 minutes with a quite spectacular audio-visual show that sees masked figures wheeling around five sinister-looking light rigs. Gabriel long ago embraced theatrics in his concerts and the avant-garde results compliment songs that explore themes of injustice, alienation and self-doubt.
A generally excellent set concludes with "Biko" - that still-powerful tribute to the anti-Apartheid campaigner, Steve Biko, who died from police brutality in 1977.
© Independent, by John Meagher