What does one do when they wake up in their own Secret World?
Peter Gabriel seems to have, if not the answers, the detailed emotions you’ll encounter on your journey through your mind. Getting inside the psyche has always been Gabriel’s game and Thursday night at the United Center it was a deep probe into the frontal lobe where sight and sound become merged and new realizations become possible.
Now that’s a lot for a rock concert to achieve and asking any artist to present art as well as technical expertise is a tall order, but Gabriel rarely seems to fail.
This year’s version of the bald wonder is a reflective one. Nostalgic to the core , Gabriel’s presence on the concert stage is always two parts inspiration, one part introspective and one part awe. You will hear the hits but not always the way you remember them. Sometimes they are stripped to their core as was the case when a squeeze box added dimension to a rootsy version of “Shock The Monkey” and sometimes he wears his influence right on his sleeve as in the Motown induced “Come Talk To Me.”
However, sometimes the effect is messy. You can ignore the technical sound problems and realize you are looking at a master of his craft or you can base your review on cost per entertainment. But that just seems so trivial when dealing with art and a true artist shall we say genius. So much the way you might overlook Einstein’s hair you can forgive Gabriel for showing his age and the band for some near misses like the guitar challenges on “Red Rain” because that’s nit picking.
Gabriel enthralls and enhances. His lyrics take one to dark places where they find solace, comfort, forbearing and occasionally redemption. His characters, whose psyche he probes better than Freud ever could, are fractured and damaged but full of resolve and if you don’t sniffle a bit during “Don’t Give Up,” you probably lack a heart or have never tread into depressive seas.
Gabriel fans found much to like as usual. (Us fans tend to be a forgiving bunch) The deep, deep, deep cut of “Family and The Fishing Net” makes you proud to be knowing and your ability to truly appreciate the master songwriting of “Solsbury Hill” makes for an evening well spent. The rollicking “Tower That Ate People” might inspire some casual fans to look up Gabriel’s masterpiece Rock Opera “Ovo,’ since it was never formally released in America.
And though the stripped down light show and circular dance moves have all been seen before, leaving the house lights up for the first few numbers added a wide open symbolic transparency to the emotions that Gabriel loves to explore even if you sometimes get dirty “Digging in the Dirt.”
My sense with the less than capacity crowd was those who had heard of Gabriel’s magnetic shows might have left confused while those who dare we say worship? the man felt most fulfilled.