Peter Gabriel & The New Blood Orchestra
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)
November 18th, 2011
By Marcelo Olguín
A stunning classical journey conducted by Maestro Peter Gabriel
Friday Spring night in Buenos Aires.
This was to be the fourth Peter Gabriel’s visit to Argentina but this time it was going to be totally different.
Basically the same songs but with a classical treatment, with Peter and his voice totally exposed, without the support of his usual set of beats and drumming (a field in which he was always a kind of specialist and experimenter) and with the backing of a 46-piece orchestra.
I must admit that I was rather skeptical about the result of the translation of such a rhythm-oriented repertoire as Peter’s into a classically arranged body of music.
After the two-hour show I must confess that I was wrong and Gabriel did it right.
Once again he went out from his comfort zone and surprised a respectful Argentine audience showing himself as a rejuvenated live performer who took full advantage of his recognized onstage charisma and full-commanding voice to give new musical colors to familiar songs with the aid of a solid orchestral support and very clever visuals and lighting (a trademark of Peter's concerts over the years).
The inspired cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” and the delicate version of “Wallflower” which started the show were touching enough to show everybody in the crowd that it was going to be a very special occasion.
The stadium may not have been the best venue in the city for this kind of show.
It has a railroad on one side and a train passed every 20 minutes (some train driver even rang his horn showing that we are Latin after all…) but Gabriel joked about it by saying that his own studio in Bath has a railroad very close so he had no problem as he is used to that.
Ironically for a concert with no drums, the highest moment of the night was the darkest and most threatening rendition possible of “Intruder” (the song that allowed Peter and his former colleague Collins to create the style of drumming which took over some of the best songs of the 80s) thanks to a masterful classical arrangement which reminded Bernard Herrmann’s soundtracks for Alfred Hitchcock films.
“San Jacinto” and “Secret World” were also peaks of the night while the extremely moving “Father, Son” was dedicated by our hero to his own father who’s turning 100 years next April (the homemade video of Gabriel and his old man was the ideal visual backing for such a wonderful song).
Maybe “Solsbury Hill” was a bit out of place amidst a carefully designed setlist but at least it was useful to get the attention of the newcomers: in an interview with the Argentine media Peter admitted that some old fans did not like this classical experience but at the same time young people was attracted by the new approach so, in a way, he lost something but gained something as well…. According to Gabriel the song was added as a kind of “bonus track” and the sound and visual treatments were peculiar, including a clever usage of ambient sound and a video camera used by Peter to focus the crowd.
To sum up, congratulations to the New Blood Orchestra (partially conformed by “porteños” musicians this time) and hats off for Mr. Gabriel and his classical journey in Buenos Aires.
The young boy who shocked fathers and school teachers in the exclusive environment of Charterhouse in the mid-60s offered a truly exciting live experience in Argentina and broke new ground again, something he’s been repeatedly doing for the last 30+ years…
Heroes (Cover David Bowie)
Après Moi (Cover Regina Spektor)
Signal to Noise
Digging in the Dirt
The Rhythm of the Heat
Solsbury Hill (Excerpt of Hymn to Joy)
In Your Eyes
Don't Give Up
The Nest That Sailed the Sky