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"We do what we're asked to do"

Peter Gabriel surprises the audience at the tour start in Gelsenkirchen

Peter Gabriel kicked off his Warm Up tour 2007 with two shows in Gelsenkirchen on June 14 and 15. These shows were something like the utter fulfillment of many fans’ wishes. Some things we had expected, many things we had hoped for, but what Peter actually presented then surpassed the most daring hopes.
There was (Washing Of The Water excepted) not a single song in the regular set that Peter had played on his previous tour. Instead he gave his fans what they wanted. He really did. Based on the poll on his website the set consisted mainly on the top 20 of his fans’ wishes, and so it happened that the introduction became the motto of the night: “We do what we’re told”.

The set began with the yell at the beginning of The Rhythm Of The Heat – and Peter was extremely off-key for that. F’ups were part of the night and Peter kept counting them merrily.
Many classics had been ordered and were delivered, even Moribund The Burgermeister, songs from his second album like D.I.Y. and On The Air, much-demanded and too-long-unheard treats like Intruder oder No Self-Control. Peter even sang some songs in German, viz. Schnappschuss (ein Familienfoto) and parts of Not One Of Us / Du Bist Nicht Wie Wir. One of the most popular songs from his second album, Mother Of Violence, was completely sung by Melanie Gabriel.
It took quite some time before the first real hit - Big Time - was played, and when the regular set came to a worthy finale with Lay Your Hands On Me it would not have surprised anybody if Peter had really done it … but he didn’t.
Funnily enough, Peter played three big hits at the end: Solsbury Hill, Slegehammer and In Your Eyes were the encores that did not fit at all with the spectacle that had gone before.

The second night began with similar weather conditions. The weather forecast had threatened rain, but it actually did not rain.

When the set of the excellent opening group (Charlie Winston) had finished I was determined to take a close look at the show, i.e. one from right in front of the stage. The second show had not sold out, so there was enough space and I soon found myself standing in the third row. Me in the front row area at a big concert – for the first time in thirty years, but the aching feet and legs were worth it. It was great to see the small gestures with which the musicians communicated with each other, and to see how much fun they had playing. Many small jokes were passed around on stage, and they did not take everything so seriously. Peter Gabriel himself in particular seemed not very bothered with the numerous little mistakes he made. As he said “True treasures are for the fans to find the mistakes we make. And we have many treasures…” which he immediately refined to “I have many treasures, not the band…” [quotes re-translated; ed.].
This and the fact that Gabriel neither can nor wants to hide his age made him all the more human.  And when the eyes of two heavyweights met it was a very personal concert for me, too. The setlist is well-known so I need not relist it here. The party posse did not get their money’s worth at this concert. The mood during the calm and slow pieces was as it was supposed to be. People listened attentively, event thoughfully at times, but quickly picked up rhythm and beat when a faster song was played. I occasionally turned around and it was pleasing to see that the vast majority of the (older) fans were thrilled by the show. The band picked up on that and enjoyed the performance even more. It was not without a reason that Gabriel did not only thank the musicians and the crew but also the audience for making the difficult tour start easier for him.

Peter in actionThe lightshow was simple but effective, and it reminded me of the lightshow Gabriel had on his first two solo tours. The fact that he had his fans vote for the setlist may indicate that Gabriel is once more one step ahead of his former band colleagues on the way back to the roots. Could not this his tour be construed as him needling the other three a bit – particularly with the dance bits that used to involve Peter’s whole band but now involved only three of them and that looked very similar to the I Can’t Dance walk? Perhaps I am reading too much into all this, and the five are still good friends, as Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford put it in an N3 TV interview.

The second night brought the first changes in the setlist. Humdrum was played, so were Lovetown and – for the only time on the tour – Indigo. The audience of the first night got to see I Grieve and We Do What We’re Told exclusively. Both these songs did not appear in any later sets.

These were two perfect nights. The shows of our protagonists are too different to be compared. But old Peter delivered an excellent performance that night. Hats off to that!

This was really great. Regardless of any mainstream considerations, Peter played only those things his devoted fans wanted to hear. Joe Ordinary-Concertgoer and the party posse must have been quite shocked. After several tours that covered mainly the hits these were two nights for the so-called hardcore fans. And it definitely was a feast that can hardly be overshadowed in this tour summer [of 2007].

by Christian Gerhardts and Udo Lampenscherf.
photos by Christian Gerhardts, Sarah Werner and Helmut Janisch
from the LIVE 2007

Peter Gabriel

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