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Review: Peter Gabriel at The Liverpool Echo Arena

On a wind blasted, Baltic-cold night probably the best way to keep warm is to either, (a) get by a roaring fire with glass of something alcoholic in your hand or, (b), brave the elements and get to a gig that is going to set the soul alight.
Option (b) won out here and Peter Gabriel did not let anybody down at The Liverpool Echo Arena, by delivering a high octane set that defied his 64 years.

Reprising the Back-to-Front tour that was so successful in 2013, Gabriel divided the set into three sections; acoustic at the start which saw Come Talk To Me, Shock The Monkey, Digging in the Dirt and Family Snapshot hit new heights, it was the super-brilliant Secret World that had the audience on its feet, with David Rhodes’ electrifying guitar ripping swathes of light through the suddenly darkened auditorium.

Gabriel is the consummate performer, knowing full well when to drop the tempo just a little so as to allow his audience time to breathe. Mercy Street and Don’t Give Up – backed brilliantly by Lennea Olsson – were just two fine examples of the man’s prowess, yet old favourites such as Solsbury Hill and No Self Control underline his penchant for slightly scary, deeply illustrative lyricism.

As this is a tour to celebrate his most commercially successful album – So – Red Rain, Sledgehammer and Big Time were recognisable hits from a time when hair was big and MTV a new phenomenon. The quality of the less familiar tracks on So are also timeless. That Voice Again is deeply chilling, We Do What We’re Told (milligrams 37) and This Is The Picture still pack a punch that other songs can only dream of, but the enigmatic In Your Eyes remains a song that needs to be experienced live and at full throttle, particularly with David Sanctious on Keys and Manu Katche on Drums providing the perfect accompaniment to Tony Levin’s ice cold, throbbing Bass playing.

With a closing encore of The Tower That Ate People and the poignant Biko – which still, nearly 40 years on from its release, sees audiences punching their right fists in the air at Peter Gabriel’s behest - this was no mere gig; this was an experience and one that will hopefully be repeated in the not too distant future.

© Click Liverpool, by Chris High

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