Return to Oz (part 2)

Here’s the second part (first part here) of my awesome adventure in the land of Oz… er…, I mean, the Peter Gabriel Back to Front tour.

On saturday was the Quebec show. This where the difference between a run through and a real concert is being felt. An empty arena (well, we WERE about 50 with the people of Ex Machina, Robert Lepage‘s company) and one that’s full to the brim with fans is a BIG difference in energy level.

Peter Gabriel - Os pre-prod

The show has three part, the first one being acoustic, which Peter described as a good representation of the process of creating new work. In fact, they started the show with an unfinished song with no lyrics fully formed yet, just unintelligible mumbling. That takes guts to start a show with something unknown, but hey, he did that with Genesis when they toured the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway before the album was released (and nearly lost their shirt on that one, but that was for a whole concert and another story). Shock the Monkey was cool in acoustic form and it was well received. Note that there was no special FX at this point: only with lights and the back and side screens were blank.

The second set (there was no break between them BTW) was starting with Family Snapshot. The second part of the song is where the visual FX started kicking in. From there we got the big hits from Us (Digging in the Dirt) and the “Melt” album (No Self Control) with of course Solsbury Hill from his first solo album. The visual concept really hang around the 5 big cranes with Vari-Lights attached at the very end. Their mobility, they could get to the front of the stage, along with the presence of the operators (in black boiler suits with faces covered) gave a sense of a constantly morphing stage.

 

Peter Gabriel - Quebec City

The third set was, of course, So (or Oz, if you prefer) played in its entirety. Some of those songs are as fresh as ever and I’m sure I’m probably alone in this, but one of my favourite at the concert was We Do What We’re Told. Augmented by the visuals, it took all its meaning to me.

On a side note, one big effect that served to close the second set in the run through didn’t work because of a system crash. They just skipped it  and played the song in the encore instead. It was the the hanging ring of lights on the ceiling that wouldn’t come down. We liked the effect in the run through, but felt it was a real high point and the rest could only go down from there. As they say, what do you do for an encore?

After the Quebec show, we all commented that it worked much better in the encore and it seems Gabriel and Lepage thought the same as it was moved permanently in the encore in Montreal.

It confirms the fact that the people in the Gabriel camp have courage, a heart AND a brain. 😉

Cheers,

Denis

PS: Again, I must thank Tony for his opportunity!