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Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 15, 2014    
 
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Peter Gabriel - The SSE Hydro, Glasgow (UK) - 24th October 2013

Wow, how impressive is the UK's newest, custom built concert venue? Well let's just say that from my vantage point of the second row from the front (well done my clever, keyboard crusading other half!) a glance over my shoulder had me thinking I was in The Senate Debating Chamber on Coruscant from 'Star Wars III - Attack Of The Clones'! A job well done, even if the sound does bounce around a little...

Having earlier in the evening wandered onto the stage in a very low key manner to introduce tonight's opening act, Jennie and Linnea, two young Scandinavian ladies who would also play key roles in his own band, Peter Gabriel casually sat at his piano to introduce his long time friend and collaborator Tony Levin and the concept behind the 'Back To Front' tour, before launching into an acoustic version of 'OBUT'. Unusually the house lights stayed on, as they did for 'Come Talk To Me' and 'Shock The Monkey', all three tracks delivered in a stripped back and stark manner. Levin by now had been joined by drummer Manu Katche, guitarist David Rhodes and keyboard player David Sancious, reuniting the band who toured Gabriel's breakthrough album 'So', some twenty five years ago.

With the show split into three sections, acoustic, electric and a full rendition of 'So', part two began with 'Family Snapshot', during which the house lights suddenly fell to darkness, almost beginning the night anew, 'Digging In The Dirt' and 'Secret World' bringing pockets of the huge crowd to their feet. Gabriel was in fine commanding voice, casually flitting from behind his piano stage right, to his keyboard stage left, roaming elsewhere microphone in hand in-between times. However he wasn't the only one on form, Levin and Katche proving a peerless rhythm section, Rhodes and Sancious an unbeatable melodic partnership, Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson superb backing vocalists.

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The mix of favourites and less celebrated tracks made the note perfect renditions of 'The Family And The Fishing Net', 'No Self Control', 'Solsbury Hill' and 'Why Don't You Show Yourself' all the more effective, before the final "course" in the night's "starter, main and dessert", as Gabriel described it, began with 'Red Rain'. Phenomenal though the early parts of the set were, most had come to hear the 'So' album and as the stupendously talented band relived the notes, sounds, jumps and twirls of yesteryear, so the atmosphere continued to grow and grow. 'Sledgehammer' has lost none of the immediacy that has made it so pivotal in Gabriel's career, 'Mercy Street' none of the restrained impact that marked him out as much more than a Prog/Pop singer, while Jennie added a wonderful, fragile, Kate Bush like vocal to 'Don't Give Up'. The set closed with 'In Your Eyes', Levin stealing the show with a voice almost as deep as his bass and Chapman Stick sounds, the crowd rising as one to celebrate a band, an album and an artist all genuinely perceived as amongst the best of any genre. 'The Tower That Ate People' was a pleasant surprise as first encore, the ever powerful 'Biko' finishing the night proper with a sing along and tribute operating as one.

Unlike the previous tour Peter Gabriel performed back in 2004, the 'Back To Front' set was less about spectacle and more about performance, no flashing light jackets, no huge plastic "Zorb" with Gabriel inside appearing from the ceiling and being pushed over the crowd. However five wheeled lighting rigs, which also had cameras on their extremities being pushed about the stage in unison was still a sight to behold and one which allowed Gabriel to lie in the centre of the stage and be filmed as though being attacked from all sides and above during 'Mercy Street'; the segment also reliving another aspect from 'So' twenty five years ago; while the conical swirl of fabric which descended during the encore was also very eye-catching indeed. However the truly captivating aspect of this show was Peter Gabriel, his music and the way he allows the wonderfully talented musicians on stage with him to express themselves to the full.

Back to front, side to side, top to bottom, this was, on so many levels, a truly phenomenal night's entertainment.

Steven Reid

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