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Back to front 2014 live
New Blood live

Kraftwerk vs O2 - That'll Do, Babe!

Peter Gabriel brings New Blood to Germany again


Laziness is one of the things you cannot complain about in Peter Gabriel since his Growing Up tour. He extended that to two years and later went on a Warm Up tour (at the same time Genesis were touring in 2007) and played heaps of stuff even his most inveterate fans had not dared dream of hearing live. In 2009 South America was treated to a brief tour before the Scratch My Back and New Blood projects brought him back to the stages of the world in 2010 and 2011 – with a full orchestra. After a brief test tour he added further gigs in Europe, North and South America.

The only thing not in sight is a new album with new Gabriel songs, though it had been kind of scheduled for 2004 (compare The Making Of I/O). Instead of working on a new album Gabriel returned in 2012 with New Blood and also for performances to Germany as well as several festivals in Poland, the UK and Portugal.

1Opinions were divided. Some found the project less interesting after all the shows he had played in Germany, others did not see any of it and yet others were happy about it. A look at the tour dates and the locations revealed that there were two special shows. The Wolfsburg concerts took place at the KraftWerk [German for PowerPlant] in a place that has a capacity of less than 1,000. These shows are part of the Movimentos annual events series (sponsored by a car manufacturer, hence the title), and Peter Gabriel was certainly one of the biggest stars they have had there in recent years. After an interesting comparison of the mood the Kraftwerk and the large O2 World in Berlin the more interesting question was what would be in it musically. So far, Germany had not heard Father Son and Secret World. Wallflower, too, had very rarely been played. So concert goers could hope for these songs or even something completely new – in the previous year there had been talk of I Grieve and Love To Be Loved, though both songs lost in a kind of vote to Secret World.

Half the New Blood Orchestra was made up of UK musicians, the other half were local musicians. John Metcalfe was there as a musician (except for In Your Eyes, which he conducted), and Ben Foster was the regular conductor again. Melanie was back after her baby break, and her fellow co-vocalist was not Ane Brun, but, as in South America, Rosie Doonan, who also sang Don’t Give Up with Peter. There were no changes to the stage setup, not even in Wolfsburg where the stage just so fit into the venue.

2As could be expected, everything was closer in Wolfsburg, more intimate, and the bright red screen before the show was quite a challenge for the people in the first rows. It was rather uncomfortable being so close to this light. The stage was hardly five feet away from the first row, and there were no security people right in front of the stage, only at the steps at the stage flanks. The stage itself was only two feet high, which was a big difference to the larger venues.

The Wolfsburg setlist was not a big surprise, but there had been a couple of changes from the Munich and Oberhausen shows. My Body Is A Cage was played, Washing Of The Water replaced Wallflower and Blood Of Eden came for Mercy Street. Gabriel added Darkness. Secret World, which was performed at all German shows, was played in a very dynamic version that stuck to the original and even had a rock element in a conga soloist. Gabriel’s vocal performance was remarkable. He played only two songs from Scratch My Back, and Downside Up was played as on the New Blood studio album, i.e. without the uplifting finale. The Wolfsburg setlist:

3Heroes
Washing Of The Water
My Body Is A Cage
Intruder
San Jacinto
Secret World
Signal To Noise
Downside Up
Digging In The Dirt
Blood Of Eden
The Rhythm Of The Heat
Darkness
Red Rain
Solsbury Hill
Biko

In Your Eyes
Don't Give Up
The Nest That Sailed The Sky


Fanclub ticket holders came really close to Gabriel; at times they could even hear him sing directly, without the amplifiers. The mood in Wolfsburg was quiet, almost reverential. People mostly listened very carefully, remained seated and were very quiet.
4This was very different in Berlin. Gabriel had played two shows there in 2010, and now the city played host to another New Blood show. Everything was larger, the stage was higher, further away, the sound more difficult to manage, though it worked quite well, at least in the first rows. And the venue was quite full; it is astonishing that Gabriel still pulls large audiences with this show.

Peter Gabriel brought a surprise for Berlin. Absolutely unexpectedly they played the Randy Newman song That’ll Do he originally recorded for the movie Babe – Pig in The City. That’ll Do was a real world premiere, and so far he has not played this song again. Previously he had done it live only once, during the Oscar ceremonies. The Berlin setlist was markedly different from Wolfsburg, though there were no big surprise, except for That’ll Do, of course. Listening Wind was played as a third song from Scratch My Back, but the popular Intruder was dropped for it. Father, Son was not played again..


5Heroes
Wallflower
Après Moi
Listening Wind
San Jacinto
Secret World
Signal To Noise
Downside Up
Digging In The Dirt
Mercy Street
The Rhythm Of The Heat
That'll Do
Red Rain
Solsbury Hill
Biko

In Your Eyes
Don't Give Up
The Nest That Sailed The Sky


The show was quite a bit shorter than in 2010 when he played the full Scratch My Back album. It still went on for some two hours. The mood reached a boiling point when Gabriel announced Wallflower. Soon after that nobody was sitting anymore. The biggest difference between the Wolfsburg and Berlin shows definitely was the different intimacy of the shows. Where you could have heard a pin drop in Wolfsburg, the much larger crowd in Berlin added a basic noise of its own. Both places had their own charm, and it did not affect the performance. 


After two years the New Blood tour is apparently coming to an end, for Peter has announced a full band tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of So with a Back To Front tour. How can it all be summed up?

6It was certainly worth the trip – the whole Scratch My Back / New Blood concept has brought a strong gust of fresh wind into the Gabriel camp. The huge success of the venture has probably surprised Gabriel himself. During the tour he began to abandon the original two-part concept and played fewer and fewer songs from Scratch My Back. When you compare the different parts of the show it occurs to the reviewer that Gabriel was more courageous with Scratch My Back as far as the song versions are concerned. His own songs are usually arranged close to the original – we need to point out the terrific Mercy Street and San Jacinto. It was a pleasure to hear Signal To Noise live with a real orchestra! The show also had great moments with The Rhythm Of The Heat and Red Rain was well-received, too. Blood Of Eden and The Drop had, obviously, less dynamism, but their arrangements were sort of predictable. Wallflower was played far too rarely – as it was on previous tours. Much debate centred on what some called the expressive and others termed the shaky vocal performance by Ane Brun, particularly in Don’t Give Up. The rendition of Digging In The Dirt was fascinating, though one began to yearn for the brutal version from the Growing Up tour. Intruder, on the other hand, was an orchestral revelation. Biko was discussed more for its content than for its music. Since the best comes last Secret World was one of the last songs Gabriel introduced into the set. It has become a definite highlight, though it was performed almost like a pop song. 

Peter Gabriel has doubtlessly surprised us with the orchestra concept and definitely given most of us a couple of pleasant hours, but by now the wear and tear is becoming visible. So it is time to look at other concepts again. That’ll do, Peter, that’ll do!


by Christian Gerhardts
English by Martin Klinkhardt
photos by Helmut Janisch und Peter Schütz
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