It’s difficult to overstate how cool Peter Gabriel is. From his early days as a founding member of Genesis to his huge solo successes in the ’80s and into his designation as a grand statesman of pop and rock today, Gabriel seemed like an obvious, and very well-deserved, inclusion to the latest class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Gabriel, already a member of the hall as part of Genesis, was inducted as a solo artist on Thursday, April 10 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Next week, Gabriel will grace cinemas across the country. The singer/songwriter is no stranger to the movies, having been nominated for an Oscar for his “Wall-E” (2008) track “Down to Earth” and scoring the films “Birdy” (1984), “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) and “Rabbit-Proof Fence” (2002).
Gabriel will bring his biggest hits to the big screen 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 with “Peter Gabriel: Back to Front.” Presented by Fathom Events, More2Screen, Eagle Rock Entertainment and Real World and directed by Hamish Hamilton, the concert film was shot in October 2013 at the O2 arena in London.
The show, part of a tour commemorating the 25th anniversary of Gabriel’s landmark solo album “So,” features Gabriel backed by his band from the original “So” tour, including Belmar native and former E Street Band keyboard player David Sancious. (Sancious, coincidentally, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the same night as Gabriel thanks to his work with Bruce Springsteen’s legendary crew.)
“Back to Front” features inspired, powerful performances of a number of classic “So” tracks, from the undeniable hits such as “Sledgehammer” and “In Your Eyes” to the achingly tender “Don’t Give Up” and “Mercy Street” and even the relatively obscure “We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37).”
Gabriel and his band, which also features long time bass master and sideman Tony Levin, bookend the “So” retrospective with muscular, musically adventurous runs through other gems from Gabriel’s back catalog. Sancious does some tasty lead guitar work on an acoustic run through “Shock the Monkey” and his keyboards anchor a stripped-down “Solsbury Hill.”
Along with the concert footage from the O2, “Back to Front” features interviews with Gabriel and his band. Gabriel says in one such interview that he was initially hesitant to look back with a “So” show, only feeling the endeavor had the potential for artistic merit after seeing Brian Wilson perform the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” live. But, with “Back to Front,” Gabriel has crafted something far more powerful than a nostalgia trip. These songs, from this artist, performed by these players, will always be vibrant and contemporary, and always worth playing one more time.
“Peter Gabriel: Back to Front” will screen 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 at a number of local cinemas, including: Clifton Commons 16 in Clifton, East Hanover 12 in East Hanover, Edgewater 16 in Edgewater, Hazlet 12 in Hazlet, Commerce Center 18 in North Brunswick, Garden State 16 in Paramus, Rockaway 16 in Rockaway, Showplace 14 in Secaucus, Seacourt 10 in Toms River, Wayne 14 in Wayne and Digiplex Rialto Westfield 6 in Westfield. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.fathomevents.com/event/peter-gabriel-back-to-front
© The Rhythm Room, by Alex Biese