Peter Gabriel – Wembley Arena

Why this gig?

I’m pretty sure that I heard Peter Gabriel’s solo stuff before I heard Genesis. I remember hearing “Solsbury Hill” pretty soon after his first solo album was released. I’ve been a fan ever since, but I haven’t seen him play live very often. The first time was when he got back together with Genesis for a single show in 1982. Then there was an Anti-Apartheid festival on Clapham Common in 1986 (I’m pretty sure he only played “Biko” there). And I was embarrassed to work out that the last time I saw him was on the Secret World tour in 1994 (as part of the Glastonbury Festival). So it was really about time that I saw him again.

Support

Gabriel came on at the start of the show and introduced two of his backing singers – Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson who sang a few of their own songs. It was all rather lovely. I hope to see them both doing longer performances before too long.

Headline

Gabriel announced that the show would be in three parts. There would be an acoustic session where they wouldn’t even dim the house lights, followed by a more traditional section and, finally, the performance of So.

The acoustic section started with a new song followed by “Come Talk To Me” and “Shock The Monkey”. The band then started playing “Family Shapshot” and halfway through the song (and if you know the song, you’ll know exactly when) the houselights dimmed and it was clear that we had entered the second section.

This was a pretty standard romp through some of Gabriel’s best-known songs (well, those that aren’t on So). I particularly enjoyed “Secret World”, “Digging in the Dirt” and (of course) “Solsbury Hill”.

Then the lights all turned red and it was clear we were into So as the band started to play “Red Rain”. It’s a great album, and it’s easy to forget just how many incredible songs are on it. “Red Rain” is followed by “Sledgehammer” (which gets the whole audience on its feet) and “Don’t Give Up” – which brings Jennie Abrahamson back to the limelight as she (brilliantly) sings the Kate Bush part. Side two of the original album follows with songs that are probably less well-known but just as good. “Big Time” was the big hit single from this side of the album, but the outstanding performance of the night is “In Your Eyes” which somehow seems to go on forever but also finish too soon.

That’s the end of the album. But there’s still time for an encore. It starts with something from the Ovo show (I haven’t listened to that album enough – must give it another go) and, of course, finishes with the entire audience punching the air along to “Biko”.

It was a great show. I certainly won’t leave it twenty years before seeing Peter Gabriel again.

The setlist is on Setlist.fm.

You can buy CDs of the shows on this tour from Peter Gabriel’s web site.

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