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Peter Gabriel live in Hamburg 2007

Warm Up Hamburg

Stadtpark, June 19, 2007

Peter Gabriel goes on tour again! The news really made an impact in spring 2007. At the same time as his former band Genesis he wanted to show them all: Look here, I’ve still got what it takes. I simply had to see this show and grew even more determined when the setlists from the first shows were posted. However, my concert budget was actually rather spent already.

It was only the night before the show that I decided to go on a spontaneous trip to Hamburg - and It would not regret it! When I arrived in the Stadtpark several hundred people had already set up their barbecues and beer coolers outside the open air theatre to listen to the sounds of Peter Gabriel for free. I wanted to be in there, of course, so I had to go find myself a ticket. This proved more difficult than I thought. The additional concert had been cancelled and the demand for tickets was great. The first notes of The Rhythm Of The Heat could be heard and my heart sank, but suddenly another ticket seller appeared and after a brief auction I finally had my ticket.

Gabriel live I entered the venue during On The Air. Fortunately I had chosen the best entrance and found myself in something like the sixth row on the left side. The location is lovely and perfect for events of this size. The sound was good throughout, though it could have been a tad louder for my liking. Now I was in the middle of a concert I never dreamed I would ever see again in this life. On The Air was very strong and it set the mood: Rock, no compromise, and lots of old songs. The next song was a powerful Intruder. What surprised me most was Peter’s piercing scream at the end (“I am the intruder”) – I sure hadn’t expected that. D.I.Y. was very groovy and good fun – a real party song.
Blood Of Eden was the first ballad of the evening. New keyboarder Angie Pollock helped  Melanie Gabriel very well with the backing vocals. A special treat was Moribund The Burgermeister because it was only played three times throughout the tour. For me it was a new song because at the time I did not know Peter’s debut album. I found the weirdness of the song quite attractive. Later on, when I listened to the Encore series recording of the night I was surprised how well they recreated the atmosphere of the studio version. I Don’t Remember and No Self Control were two classics from Peter’s third album and they were performed very well. Tony Levin wrought magic on his stick on I Don’t Remember and the intro to No Self Control was played live by multi-instrumentalist Richard Evans.
Lovetown was a song Peter contributed to the Philadelphia soundtrack. It was new to me and I was pleasantly surprised about this groovy song. Schnappschuss (Ein Familienfoto) was the first emotional high of the show. Peter sang it in German, and I was overjoyed that I was there for this mini opera. The melancholy was soon alleviated by the catchy Steam – yes, they played full ten songs before they came to the first hit.
Mother Of Violence was the second surprise that night. Not only did they play this pearl from the second album at all but Melanie Gabriel took over the vocals. Peter’s daughter is certainly not a great virtuoso but she did very well. Humdrum was the next rarely-heard song. The bombastic ending and its great harmonies were a real crowd-pleaser. Big Time on the other hand was never a big favourite of mine; it was a good performance of a song that was probably a gift to the “hit” audience.
There were more highlights ready to come right away. First they played a fantastic Not One Of Us that permitted Ged Lynch to really beat up his drums; Peter also sang the chorus in German (“Du bist nicht wie wir”). The regular set ended with the atmospheric masterpiece of the fourth album, Lay Your Hands On Me. The band left the stage – far too soon, as everybody in the audience agreed. Peter Gabriel and his band did not let us wait too long and came out again for the encores.

Diggin’ In The Dirt was the first encore, but Peter’s microphone remained mute. The band played on. Then Peter decided to start over; he went “take two – ready?”.  A charming and professional way of dealing with the only technical problem of the night. The song itself was very powerful, very aggressive; David Rhodes and Richard Evans in particular played excellent guitar. For the ‘hit’ audience it was now time for the mega-hits Solsbury Hill and  Sledgehammer. They were performed in their usual quality and set the rather reserved audience on fire. When he introduced the band Peter was slightly hampered by laughing fit – he laughed about his own joke. Very funny situation, and you can hear it on Hamburg’s Encore series recording.

The show’s finale was the song that won’t lie down, In Your Eyes. It also featured Charlie Winston who was that night’s support act. After long and applause and cheers from the audience the band left the stage, and a memorable concert came to an end. Most people will have gone home happy though the unusual set list was probably a big challenge for some listeners. The band were in high spirits that night, and the sound was so strong that you would call it a rock rather than a pop concert.

This was my first Peter Gabriel concert ever, and I still get excited when I think back to it. This spontaneous, intimate and natural concert series in summer 2007 was a string of convincing performances that, in my opinion, musically outshone the giant production of his former band mates. The relaxed atmosphere in particular was very enjoyable. Peter was in joking spirits, did all the introductions in German and kept making contact with the audience. A few minor mistakes were a pleasant distraction from the usual perfection of a major show; in fact, they are what made this fine evening special.

by Sebastian Wilken
translated by Martin Klinkhardt

Peter Gabriel

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