New Blood (Godfather Records GR518/519)
O2 Arena, London, England – March 28th, 2010
Disc 1 (75:27): “Scratch My Back” set: Heroes, The Boy in the Bubble, Mirrorball, Flume, Listening Wind, The Power of the Heart, My Body Is A Cage, The Book of Love, I Think It’s Going to Rain Today, Après moi, Philadelphia, Street Spirit (Fade Out). “Goldies” set; San Jacinto, Digging In The Dirt, Downside Up,
Disc 2 (79:25): Signal To Noise, Mercy Street, The Rhythm of the Heat, The Drop, Darkness, Solsbury Hill, In Your Eyes, Don’t Give Up, The Nest That Sailed the Sky. Bonus tracks O2 Arena, London, England – March 27th, 2010: Mercy Street, The Drop, Wallflower, Washing Of The Water
The negative reaction from some fans for Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back is a bit puzzling. He is one artist over the past forty years who has embraced different forms of music and whose catalogue reveals dabbling in many diverse styles. Recording a cover album with orchestral arrangements is an interesting work, but something which is not without precedent. Gabriel’s first recording after leaving Genesis was an orchestral arrangement of “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
New Blood on Godfather presents the second of two shows at the O2 Arena in March, the only two shows in England thus far. They use and excellent stereo DAT audience recording of the show and also have bonus tracks from the first O2 show, songs that were not played on the second night.
Given the boldness of the project, the live show is equally as bold. The first half of the show is devoted to the new album in is entirety, and the second half are Gabriel classics and hits in orchestral arrangements.
In a review of this show, Liverpool Student Media writes: “Peter had already announced that the album would be played in its correct order and he didn’t disappoint as he opened up with David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and one of the 80’s most popular songs, Paul Simon’s ‘The Boy in the Bubble’. This song summed up the whole evening as it was a tune that ran along at fair old pace, (a typical trait of Paul Simon’s songs on the Graceland album) but has now been tempered down to the point of being something beautiful.
“Peter’s love of playing around with technology was on show as Peter covered Magnetic Fields ‘The Book of Love’ with some wonderful use of animation on the big screens, culminating in some personal mickey taking as Peter’s animated figure lifts up the bride’s veil to reveal his own face.
“The first part of the show was culminated with a scintillating version of ‘Philadelphia’ which drew huge applause from the crowd. Peter opened up the second part of the gig with ‘San Jacinto’ and a stunning version of ‘Digging in the Dirt’ and accompanied by some thought provoking visuals including a mess of wriggling worms, (perhaps with the reference of finally burying the past).
“For those who might have worried how some of his older, perhaps more rock oriented songs, may have sounded when played by the New Blood Orchestra, then put away those doubts, for every song was delivered with style and a massive amount of respect, not only to the song but to the reverential audience who had braved the changeable London weather all day.
“Peter and the Orchestra finished a truly wonderful main set with the classic ‘Solsbury Hill’ from Peter’s first album Car, with the opening chord giving everybody the impetus to get up and dance for the first time that evening.
“After a small break in proceedings Peter came back on too deep and heartfelt applause and thrilled the audience one more time with ‘In Your Eyes’ and a message for all those that had attended the evening in the masterpiece “Don’t Give Up’. Originally recorded with the incomparable Kate Bush, it took on a completely new vibe with the wonderful Ane Brun taking on the responsibility of filling the great lady’s shoes.
“The Orchestra were on top form and complimented Peter’s voice and approach superbly. Led energetically by conductor Ben Foster, they didn’t put a foot wrong all night. Peter remains one of rocks greatest enigmas, but on this type of showing, there will not be too many who will worry about what the future will hold for one of the nation’s favourite sons.”