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Grand orchestra covers meet stunningly
re-imagined originals

Peter Gabriel
Hollywood Bowl
Hollywood, CA
May 7, 2010
Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel

Story By Andy Argyrakis
Publicity Photos

He's often been called an art rock innovator and technological genius, but one attribute rarely assigned to Peter Gabriel is prolific. After an eight year wait, the former Genesis singer turned solo star delivered Scratch My Back (EMI) at the tip of 2010, though considering it's a covers collection, it's not exactly a proper follow-up to 2002's Up. Nonetheless, the notorious perfectionist rolls the dice once again on the new album, forgoing all drums and guitars in favor of simply his vocals and an orchestra, a quality that's since carried over into the New Blood Tour.

Though it's already sold out all across Europe, American fans were forced to flock to either New York or Los Angeles to catch an exclusive trio of shows that were once again backed by the symphony. In the final night of Gabriel's all too short Stateside stand, he split the two act evening between remakes, hits and a handful of rare album cuts, building up the momentum with each creative re-arrangement and rousing crescendo.

Out of the Scratch My Back material, tracks like David Bowie's "Heroes" and Elbow's "Mirrorball" earned soft-spoken but still epic readings that served as perfect accompaniments to the Hollywood Bowl's lush outdoor surroundings. Though the temperament started somber on The Arcade Fire's "My Body Is a Cage," the orchestra soon exploded and Gabriel followed suite with his signature groans, which sounded occasionally winded and a bit more weathered than his younger years, but were nonetheless nothing short of hypnotic.

Those qualities were even better displayed during the second half, from the already string-friendly ballads "San Jacinto" "Mercy Street" to sing-a-longs such as "Red Rain" and "Solsbury Hill." The normally chugging percussion of "Digging In the Dirt" morphed into a sweeter disposition, while the always pleasant "In Your Eyes" was cast in tender light as the love ballad in which it was originally intended (instead of the African-inspired jam session it's become on conventional tours).

Compared to all of his past performances, the New Blood Tour was certainly a once in a lifetime experience likely to be revered amongst core fans forever. Of course, it can't compare to a full rock band experience with all the interactive visuals Gabriel generally brings around on the road, but if his recent pacing is any indication, chances are that won't happen for at least another half decade, provided retirement doesn't come first.

Related articles:

The Musical Box - Concert review - Chicago, IL - Jan. 2009
Genesis - Concert review - Chicago, IL - Oct. 2007
The Musical Box - Concert review - Chicago, IL - Nov. 2006
Various artists - Playing For Change: Songs Around The World - Album review
Genesis - Live Over Europe 2007 - Album review

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