Peter Gabriel Concert Review – Valley View Casino – San Diego
Peter Gabriel has been hitting the stage since the late 1960′s. He’s been experimenting different ways of presenting his music on stage in ways that many would never dream of. Innovation has always been the name of the game for Gabriel, even at this stage of his career, commemorating his most successful album wasn’t something in which he wouldn’t bring something different to the table. As it turns out it was much different than would imagine it. His last big production on stage was about ten years ago with the release of his latest original album, Up. Concerts were his usual theatrical shows that have characterized him throughout his career. Ever since then his been involved in less produced events in which music is the main focus and with his recent to albums, Scratch my Back and New Blood, which feature a full orchestra, his shows have focused on presenting the music many of us love in ways we’ve never would off thought hearing. Coming back to his full band for this tour is something us fans were waiting and it doesn’t disappoint. So, his entrance to the mainstream in the mid 80′s is still considered one of the top Pop albums of all time. With this album Gabriel employed his usual ethnic approach mixed with catchy rhythms and casual yet complex songwriting. Songs like Sledgehammer, In your Eyes, Red Rain, Big Time, Mercy Street and Don’t Give Up have become staples of Peter’s concerts and are among the favorites of every fan. Making a tribute to this masterful pop album was a no brainer and the only question one may have had was the manner in which he would be presenting it.
Peter isn’t a man that can be called conventional and we can’t expect him to act this way. The beginning of the show has Peter coming out in the most unusual way for a pop/rock star. Without the lights going off he steps on stage and gives us a quick run on how things are going to be played out throughout the evening. Much like a waiter will present to you the menu of the day, Peter comes out and gives us the appetizer, main dish and dessert. These three parts consisted in an introduction with the lights on that would look more as an unplugged rehearsal of some well known songs in his back catalog including a new unfinished melody titled OBUT with Tony Levin that would serve as the introduction to this section and the concert itself. The second part would be an electric, regular version of some of his best songs before going in to the dessert that would consist of the whole So album from beginning to end.
As it turned out, it has to be one of the better Peter Gabriel concerts i’ve attended. Sound was fantastic, the stage mimicked the one used in the original So tour and song selection was impeccable. We got to hear a few unexpected hidden gems in Pete’s back catalog that were played flawlessly and most of all true to their original sound. After OBUT, Peter treated us to awesome unplugged versions of two favorites, Come Talk to Me and a personal favorite, Shock the Monkey. The fourth and last song in the appetizer set, Family Snapshot, was one of the first songs that truly impressed me. This was the first time I listened to it live and was played in a very powerful intense way fully intensifying the meaning of the song as Peter interpreted full force. Midway through the song the lights finally turned off and the band started its electric set. What followed was a selection of songs that were played in a way that only the great ones can. Digging in the Dirt and Secret World brought the crowd to its feet with its own respective extended version. Both songs showed that Peter is in great physical condition to perform live and can still reach those dreaded high notes.
What came next is what I would call one of the highlights of the concert. Peter dared to play a song that much of the crowd hadn’t heard before, being one of the darkest in his repertoire. The Family and the Fishing Net, a very strange song about very strange stuff followed by the dark version of No self Control showed us that Peter still loves the creepy stuff, to my delight they were accompanied by suitable video in the big screens. Solsbury Hill followed bringing the crowd to their feet with Pete, David Rhodes and Tony jumping throughout the stage in its funny well known form. Next up Peter changed the setlist that he’s been using throughout the tour bringing a gem of song to the table. As he stated, the fans voted for this song to be included in the set and boy were the fans right. Humdrum is one song that never comes to mind when I think of the best songs Gabriel has made, but it sure sounded as one of them last night as Peter gave us one performance to remember.
The Dessert was what much of the crowd came to see, the performance of the whole So album. Red Rain one of my favorites was played against a red background in a way that we’ve been accustomed but paling in comparison with the orchestral version played last year. It was probably the most underwhelming song of the night, but still a good one for most. Sledgehammer, the only number one song in Peter’s catalog was greeted properly as most of the crowd was jumping, dancing and singing through it, proving why its still a timeless song. Don’t Give Up followed with one of the backup vocalists filling in with Kate Bush’s parts fabulously to the surprise of the crowd. That Voice Again was a nice surprise as it sounded way better live than in the album. Mercy Street was the highlight of the So section of the concert as its beautiful lyrics and awesome music hypnotized the crowd. Big Time was fun but not as good as I expected as Peter failed to hit it as good as I would’ve wanted, maybe I was being too demanding of him. We Do What We’re Told was the dark horse of the album and still is live and This is The Picture was way better live, loved the performance. In your eyes was the usual fun song that it always is and didn’t surprise me a bit. It was good as always as the crowd gets in to its charming melody.
The encore featured a song that sounded way more powerful than previous times i’ve listened to it live, The Tower that Ate People from the album OVO was played before a crowd that clearly didn’t recognized it. It’s power was felt though as it ended with some of the theatrics we’ve grown accustomed from Gabriel. The last song, Biko, is always a crowd favorite and a beautiful ending to one of the best concerts i’ve attended in recent memory. Peter showed us last night that he still has it, although he failed to fill the place out. A good 20 % of the arena was empty, a shame since this was probably one of his best performances. I will always remember this concert as the one that left me the most satisfied.
SCORE 9.7 out of 10.0
Posted on October 9, 2012, in Concerts, Entertainment, Music and tagged Back To Front Tour, Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel Concert Review San Diego, Peter Gabriel in San Diego, Peter Gabriel So, San Diego Peter Gabriel, So Tour. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.