Singer songwriter and progressive rock legend Peter Gabriel rolled back the years last night as he brought his iconic album So to the Metro Radio Arena.
The former Genesis frontman performed the acclaimed record in its entirety, as the dessert in a three course meal of musical delights spanning his entire career.
Despite being 64, Gabriel’s voice retains the strength and clarity it is famed for, while his energy and physical presence remains infectious through his rhythmic, robotic dance movements.
There were certainly plenty of middle aged men dancing like dads!
The Back to Front tour kicked off with a starter of acoustic “rehearsal” tracks - the first of which was newly written in collaboration with Gabriel’s son and the artist appeared to make up the words as he went along.
The relaxed format, with house lights still on, allowed for the introduction of his talented band - original So bassist Tony Levin, guitarist David Rhodes, keyboardist and guitarist David Sancious and drummer Manu Katche, with new additions Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson providing backing vocals.
Shock the Monkey proved the first of many crowd pleasers, with stunning rhythm guitar from Sancious.
The main course of the evening, dubbed “more electronic stuff”, arrived with hyperactive flashing lights which came to life thanks to the use of booms operated by mysterious identical masked men. They resembled the head of the robot from the film Short Circuit or even tripods from War of the Worlds.
The set looked like the backstage area of a SciFi movie, with hi-tech equipment throughout the arcane landscape.
After the ever-catchy Solsbury Hill lifted the mood, it was slowed down with Gabriel’s Show Yourself, taken from the soundtrack to upcoming film Words with Gods.
And then what everyone had been waiting for - pudding.
More than 25 years since its release, So was kept fresh by fantastic lighting and the original musicianship.
From atmospheric Red Rain to the biggest draw of the night in Sledgehammer, the variation kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
Then came Don’t Give Up, in which Abrahamson stepped in as a more than adequate Kate Bush with her haunting tone earning her a rousing ovation from the arena crowd, before familiar African rhythms got everyone’s toes tapping as the album went on.
The crescendo came with the melodic In Your Eyes, featuring a kaleidoscope of colour.
But there was still time for a dramatic encore which saw a spaceship-esque donut of light descend upon Gabriel and see him disappear in a silk cylinder.
The entire contraception then rose to display an elaborate spiral which when lit was mesmerising.
However, the famed humanitarian returned one last time to perform Biko - the protest song about Steve Biko, a black South African anti-apartheid activist.
As Gabriel left the stage, the audience was still fist pumping in support of activists worldwide.
© Chroniclelive, by Adam Luke
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