Peter Gabriel is currently touring in honor of the 25th anniversary and re-issue of his album, So, with the band from the original tour — bassist Tony Levin, guitarist David Rhodes, drummer Manu Kache and keyboardist David Sancious.
When Gabriel took the stage at The Hollywood Bowl Saturday night, he prefaced the show, to let the crowd know what they could expect. He explained that the set would be divided into three sections, like a good meal or story. The first section would be the quiet section, the foundational history. The second piece would be the “rock bit”. During the third segment – “the dessert” – Gabriel and band would perform the album So, straight through. In his attempt to set expectations, he had already exceeded them.
Then came the music. The entire show felt like an encore, brilliant song upon brilliant song. Gabriel kicked off the set with “Come Talk To Me”. His voice sounded spectacular, the band incredible. Next up, “Shock The Monkey”, which made me question whether we’d already moved on to the “rock” bit. But no, this was still the set-up, the first couple of chapters, reeling the audience in deeper and deeper. “Family Snapshot” concluded the first segment. It may have been the introduction, but the crowd was already on its feet.
“Digging In The Dirt” initiated the second segment – the rock bit. “After all that digging, it’s time to enter a ‘Secret World’,” Gabriel said, announcing the next song, one of my personal favorites. With the “rock portion” of the show, came an equally energetic light show, appropriately accompanying Gabriel and band through “The Family and The Fishing Net”, “No Self Control”, “Solsbury Hill”, and “Washing of The Water”. By this stage, the crowd had already gotten their money’s worth and Gabriel hadn’t even begun the advertised portion of the concert, playing So, start to finish.
Gabriel continued to mesmerize the crowd during the “dessert” section of the set. “Red Rain”, “Sledgehammer”, and “Don’t Give Up” hit with such force and momentum, I don’t recall breathing. Song by song, Gabriel delivered So spectacularly.
Gabriel’s stamina and energy is enough to embarras those far younger who even considered sitting down during the show. Even when he sang the entirety of “Mercy Street”, lying on his back, Gabriel’s performance was powerful beyond belief.
As the audience was being transported through time, John Cusack walked out on stage and presented Gabriel with a giant boombox, reminiscent of that famous scene in Say Anything. Raising the boombox above his head, Gabriel began “In Your Eyes”, the anthem song featured in Cameron Crowe’s anthem of a movie. The crowd sing-a-long was in full effect, but simultaneously and respectfully gave way to the divine sound of Gabriel’s voice. Gabriel made a point of thanking and acknowledging Cusack as well as Cameron Crowe, who was also in attendance. “Cameron Crowe made this song famous,” he said.
Upon completing “dessert”, Gabriel returned with dessert wine, closing the evening out with “Biko”.
Not many artists can successfully tour on an album that’s more than a quarter of a century old. Given his body of work, Gabriel could do it successfully, many times over. Each song tells a story so engaging, so universal, that you yearn to hear it repeatedly. Collectively, they make up an album that speaks volumes, So.
A limited edition So box set, special edition 3 CD set, and newly remastered CD will be released on October 23. For more info or to pre-order, please visit http://petergabriel.com/