Saturday, 19 November 2016

Peter Gabriel

Growing Up Live/Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped (3 DVDs)

The voice has aged, raspier in its lower register than in his Genesis days. But as the (mostly young) audiences chant “PETER! PETER!” we’re reminded that only a couple of letters separate the showman from the shaman. “My friends would think I was a nut / Turning water into wine,” he sings in ‘Solsbury Hill’, as he rides round the stage on a folding bike.  Peter Gabriel may not be a miracle-worker but he is still a hugely charismatic presence.

These DVDs (predominantly reissued material) record the tours following the release of his album Up. The most spectacular is a 2003 Milan gig, where the band perform on a revolving stage in mid-arena. Aided by designer Robert Lepage, Gabriel’s love of spectacle is undiminished. He hangs upside down from an elevated set in ‘Downside Up’, perambulates the stage in a zorb ball for ‘Growing Up’ as if suspended in amniotic fluid. Close-ups of Gabriel’s penetrating eyes are intercut with shots of orange-clad techies toiling like Nibelungs beneath the stage.

The 2004 gigs find Gabriel introducing the songs in French. The theatricals are toned down, the setlist different. As the previous year, daughter Melanie joins on backing vocals and there is a touching moment as father and daughter hold hands in ‘Come Talk To Me’. But the finest cut here is on the DVD ‘extras’: a joyous duet on ‘In Your Eyes’ with Mauritanian Daby TourĂ©.

The band is tight, with long-serving guitarist David Rhodes a stand-out, and sound quality excellent.

First published in R2 (Rock’n’Reel)