PHOTOS: Peter Gabriel at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado - Reverb

Live review: Peter Gabriel @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

If Peter Gabriel had graduated from Hogwarts, he probably couldn’t have conjured a better trick than what happened during the first five songs of his two-set show at Red Rocks Monday night. Lightning flashed behind the stage as Gabriel opened his show with a languid cover of “Heroes,” the mixed Colorado/English symphony orchestra creating a swelling dreamscape of sound for Gabriel’s still-potent voice.

The continued natural light storm drew lots of “oohs” from the crowd, and by the third song, a slight drizzle had started. However, as Gabriel started singing “Après Moi,” with its line “Après moi, le deluge, after me comes the flood,” the deluge started in earnest. After all, why shouldn’t a British musician bring a little bit of home with him? As Gabriel wryly noted, “When you are in the bosom of nature, you need to be careful of what you wish for.”

The first set consisted mostly of covers, tracks that Gabriel recorded on his new album “Scratch My Back.” Some, such as the well-known cover of “The Book of Love,” and his positively stunning take on Arcade Fire’s “My Body is a Cage,” reached glorious heights, while others, such as the ethereal, yet oddly dispassionate, version of Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble,” fell flat. The first set closed with Gabriel’s transcendent “Biko,” with New Blood Orchestra conductor Ben Foster echoing Gabriel’s plea to the crowd for acknowledgement that “The rest is up to you.”

After a brief set break, Gabriel returned for a set that that was peppered with most of his popular solo songs, beginning with “San Jacinto.” After the enthusiastically received “Digging in the Dirt,” Gabriel reached into the lesser known parts of his catalog for a smoldering take on “Signal to Noise.” Listening to the song, you could easily win a bet with someone foolish enough to say that a symphony orchestra can’t rock.

Gabriel, in fact, made plenty of room for the orchestra to stand out, starting with his position on stage (stage right), with Foster occupying the middle position, as well as much of the spotlight activity. Gabriel would frequently leave the stage during a song, allowing the orchestra, or his backup singers, the brilliant Ane Brun and Gabriel’s daughter Melanie, to shine. Melanie more than held her own, especially on “Downside Up,” while Brun stepped out on the second encore of “Don’t Give Up.”

While a hauntingly disquieting “Mercy Street” was probably the highlight of the night, the fans appreciated “Red Rain” and the set-closing, jaunty “Solsbury Hill,” during which he skipped back and forth across the stage. Gabriel kicked off his three-song encore with the expected “In Your Eyes,” drawing on the orchestra to infuse the song with new life.

Click here to read our list of 11 “Back Scratchers” that really work — a collection of cover songs inspired by Gabriel’s latest album.

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Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1147510088 Sarah Milteer

    I really liked his rendition of “Boy in the Bubble”. u00a0San Jacinto was amazing as were the songs sung during the rain/thunder/lightening. u00a0Amazing concert!

  • Anonymous

    The concert was absolutely brilliant!u00a0 The energy from the storm onlyu00a0added tou00a0the amazing performance in such an incredible surroundings!u00a0u00a0It was one ofu00a0those once in a lifetime experiences!

  • tHE bOGEMAN

    Peter Gabriel is a self-indulgent pompous a*s*s* who disrepects his audience by completely ignoring his 2 biggest songs while preaching every leftisdt mantra that this Euroweenie could think of.u00a0 He preached African civil rights, Arab Spring, global warming and his undying adulation for Obama.u00a0 He preched other things but I was too busy SLEEPING.u00a0 Thank God, because had I not fallen asleep I may have died of BOREDOM!u00a0 I want my money back.u00a0 If you’re considering going to a future show, be aware, this is not a rock concert, it is a concerto.u00a0 It’s sad when the rockingest part of the night is when Gabriel LEFT THE STAGE!u00a0 DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY UNLESS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A CURE FOR INSOMNIA!

    • fred

      Well no accounting for taste…just go back and listen to sledgehammer over and over again….

      Why the hell do you even go? you knew he was touring with an orchestra, you knew that he was promoting the new album….I think you are just a t**t for buying a ticket…..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKPLZSQZ5CMUAUJ6JAGEJ5PC24 Tim

    I agree bogeman.u00a0 I did fall asleep during the second part and left before the encore, because of boredom.u00a0 What was Gabriel thinking?u00a0u00a0 I never want to hear another symphony orchestra again!

    • fred

      Fred again here… ditto above my comment to that other idiot “the snot man” or whatever he calls himself…you are another one who should have known in advance……prat