Peter Gabriel with the New Blood Orchestra

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17. Sep. 2010, 8:12

Thu 16 Sep – Peter Gabriel
Yesterday evening, I saw Peter Gabriel perform with the New Blood symphonic orchestra. It was amazing and it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience too.

Peter welcomed the audience in Dutch and French and even though he needed some paper notes, this gesture means a lot. Respect! Apart from two annoying shouters, the audience really enjoyed it. I assume the average age was well above 35... but some people brought their kids, who were probably born after most of the songs had been written originally.

First Ane Brum sang two of her songs, and then she joined the rest of the crowd to assist Melanie Gabriel with backing vocals and sometimes lead vocals. One woman and a (small) guitar but a nice opener.

Then Peter started the first part of the show with the "Scratch My Back" cover songs. While I do prefer some of the original songs for their sound and energy, he did a good job. And we began to see some of the dynamics this orchestra can bring. No guitars, no drums, no synthesizers, but with a range of sound, subtlety and power that no rock band can bring, this is a wonderful experience. And Peter has (still has) an amazing voice. Smooth with subtle phrases and echoing as a church when it needs to be high and open and loud. I enjoyed his voice even more than on records.

After a 15minute break, he began with the orchestral renditions of several of his greatest hits. And personally, I preferred this part. Not only because of the familiarity of the songs, but also because it was more energetic, more rhythmical and more powerful.
Most of the best songs were there, from San Jacinto, Digging in the Dirt, Blood Of Eden up to a magnificent rendition of Mercy Street and Don't Give Up (Ane Brum did her best to replace Kate Bush and although her voice is very different, the song gave shivers down my spine). And Solsburry Hill was loud and energetic. Still amazing how a 7/4 rhythm from the 70ties can still sound so full of energy.



But the review would be incomplete without mentioning the visuals. A large led-based video wall was going up and down in front of the orchestra, two screens were hanging at the side of the stage and three more vertical screens hang at the back of the stage. A variety of abstract and less-abstract animations were displayed, all synchronized wonderfully with the live music. Were they playing with a click-track? Or were they realtime (and directed from within the venue)? The answer lies in the amazing Open Source Processing libraries, as explained on the
Stefan Goodchild blog.

Take a look at a recording from another show in Paris in March 2010:

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