In recent years, it has become the thing for classic rock artists to recreate their most famous albums in their entirety on the concert stage. Acts from Cheap Trick to Bruce Springsteen to Judas Priest to Aerosmith have all performed their biggest releases. It is not surprising then that for the 25th anniversary of his landmark album, So, Peter Gabriel performed the album in its entirety live, with the original touring band no less. A London performance was filmed to mark the occasion and makes up the new Blu-ray Peter Gabriel - Back To Front: Live In London.
The show is broken up into segments, with Gabriel likening them to courses in a meal. The first portion starts out semi-acoustic and in daring form, with an unfinished song "Daddy Long Legs." The house lights are on and Gabriel is on piano for the song. He is in fine voice for the track, which has an almost gospel feel at times. His longtime bassist Tony Levin accompanies him in this bold, yet strong opener.
David Sancious switches from keyboards to guitar for a funky "Shock The Monkey." Though it is primarily acoustic, this rendition has a blues feel not present on the original studio recording. Along those lines, Gabriel stays on keys for a powerful "Digging In The Dirt" that finds the band locked in a tight groove. Guitarist David Rhodes pushes his instrument in this standout performance. Gabriel has always been known for his stage shows as well and this concert was no exception. The track featured a spectacular light display, courtesy of many giant cranes perched on the stage. Huge screens showcase the band members during a triumphant "Solsbury Hill" as Gabriel commands the stage before a packed house at the O2 Arena.
The So portion of the show doesn't disappoint either. The band is bathed in red lights during the opening "Red Rain," as the screens make it look like red rain is indeed falling down upon the stage. The crowd sings along the familiar riff of "Sledgehammer" during a muted guitar and bass intro courtesy of Rhodes and Levin. Gabriel may not look the same as he did 25 years ago (who does?), but he certainly sounds the same on this, one of his biggest hits.
"Don't Give Up" features the very talented Jennie Abrahamson replicating the vocal parts of the very talented Kate Bush with great results. The regular set closes with a joyous "In Your Eyes," complete with Daby Touré on guest vocals. The song is a great reminder of the spiritual power of Gabriel's music.
The video is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen 16:9 and looks great. Audio options include LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio. An interview with Gabriel and Rob Sinclair about the tour is included as a bonus feature.
While many bands play their biggest albums in their entirety these days, few can claim that they do the records as good, if not better than the original tour. Gabriel is an artist who constantly pushes the boundaries visually and the musicianship of the original So band is top notch. Peter Gabriel - Back To Front: Live In London is a great representation of a fantastic live artist.