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Peter Gabriel @ 3Arena, Dublin


Let’s face it: Peter Gabriel still has it. For a man who was in his prime both musically and physically thirty years ago, he seriously puts this (almost) thirty-year old to shame, leaping and bounding across the 3Arena stage and exercising vocals that sound as fresh as they did back then.

Unassumingly strolling onto the stage, with the full house lights still, Gabriel announces that the show will be divided into three parts: a “supper” if you will, and he as our waiter. The first course will be the acoustic appetiser, the second, the ‘savoury’ course of a full electric set complete with proggy overtones, and the third – if we make it that far, he jokes – the dessert, and the main reason for half the crowd attending: his SO album from 1986 in full.

For the first part of the show, Gabriel insists on keeping the house lights up for that portion of the gig, which proves slightly unnerving as all this particular audience member could see was a sea of heads clapping in time, inducing thoughts of how weird it was that thousands of people were clapping in unison, leading to existential thoughts and questioning the very being of human nature – that is, until Gabriel’s superb reworking of ‘Shock the Monkey’ (quite literally) shocks yours truly back to full attention and he barely loses it from there.

Seguing nicely into the second portion of the show, where Gabriel’s band really come into their own with the trademark ‘Eighties’ snare drums and Tony Levin’s immutable bass plucking, so intricate that they slapped a small camera on the edge and beam out his fingers to the entire arena. Better still, on the likes of ‘Secret World’ – with its sprawling guitars and intense synths duelling with the epic epileptic lighting that leads into to ‘Darkness’ – the spirit of early Genesis is never so apparent.

Shortly afterwards, having teased the intro to the almost inevitable roars of the crowd, ‘Sledgehammer’ delivers and then some. Never in this listener’s life has a song been performed live that so absolutely lives up to the recording – all I have to do is close my eyes and I can visualise the claymation video coming to life. Such is the faithfulness of their performance.

All that said, there are a couple of low points throughout the night that thankfully don’t deter from the entire experience. For example, there’s a very apparent lack of Kate Bush in hauntingly decadent duet ‘Don’t Give Up’ which, truth be told, no one in this world but Bush could do justice on.

With Gabriel lay on his back for the duration of ‘Mercy Street’ – no mean feat for vocalist especially as strong as his, even at his current age – the overpowering ‘Big Time’ is positively startlingly, to say the least, and the crowning glory of the night is reserved for ‘In Your Eyes’, Gabriel’s band synchronizing dance moves and triumphantly bringing the third portion of the night to a close with an array of rainbow lighting. Loreana Rushe

Check out Shaun Neary’s full photo set from the show below.

is the co-editor / photo editor. She also contributes photos and illustrations to The Thin Air print magazine.