2h40 of show, cascading clics, 12 new songs… An imperial Peter Gabriel in Paris


“There are only old people! He was going a bit too far, the boy of about thirty, when he arrived on the forecourt of Accor Arena, this Tuesday evening in Paris (XII). But he wasn’t really wrong. The audience of peter gabriel grew old with him. From the height of his 73 years, the former singer of Genesis today has generally the same hard core of graying hair as… Phil Collinshis friend from the 1970s. Like Brigitte and Patrick, who came from Chartres (Eure-et-Loir) to see him for the third time.

The latest was in October 2013 for the “Back To Front Tour”, where he celebrated his mythical album “So” released in 1986. His last concert in Bercy and in France. This time, they took their 32-year-old son Maxime “to m”… “You never know, admits his father. This may be the last time we see him…”

Hit by a meteorite

However, this is not the impression one has when Peter Gabriel arrives alone, at 8:10 p.m., on the large black stage in a semi-circle. Dressed like all his technical team in an orange jumpsuit, he speaks in French, as he will do throughout the evening: “I would like you to go back 4 billion years to the time when our planet was uninhabited , which it could well become again unless we are very careful. A meteorite would have brought life to earth. »

“I would like you to go back 4 billion years to when our planet was uninhabited, which it could very well be again unless we are very careful,” warns the star.
“I would like you to go back 4 billion years to when our planet was uninhabited, which it could very well be again unless we are very careful,” warns the star. LP/Olivier Lejeune

A light symbolizing this meteorite and “the fire of life” descends towards him and hits him. This unexpected collision makes everyone laugh, starting with him. Nice proof of self-mockery too when he explains that he is replaced on stage by a bald avatar of 20 years and 10 kg more and that he is in fact lying on a Caribbean beach with the body of a Greek god…

The Accor Arena, in seated formula, is sold out. After wishing a big “have fun” to the 12,000 spectators, the concert begins with an acoustic “fireside” sequence on the front of the stage. It’s hard to do more anti-rock star than Peter Gabriel, who plays with his synthesizer on his knees and swaps his jumpsuit for dark, sober pants and a jacket with Indian inspirations.

Clics and new

He is joined by his most faithful friend, the bist Tony Levin, and begins with two “Washing Of The Water”, a title of the album “Us” of 1992. They are joined by six other musicians, who sit in circle around the virtual campfire and continue with “Growing Up”, from the 2002 album “Up”. Above them, a huge moon appears and disappears, as if we were in the open air and in the middle of the night .

A huge moon appears and disappears, as if we were in the open air and in the middle of the night.
A huge moon appears and disappears, as if we were in the open air and in the middle of the night. LP/Olivier Lejeune

The show really unfolds with “Panopticom”, the effective pop song with which he made his comeback on January 6th. For his tenth album, “I/o”, the first since 2002, the British musician has decided to unveil a title each month until the physical release of the disc, next December. He has already published five – “The Court”, “I/o”, “Four Kind Of Horses” and “Playing For Time” – and has performed no less than seven others in Paris, “This Is Home”, “Love Can Heal”, “Road To Joy” – with surprising images of the skull and middle finger -, “The Court”, “And Still”, “Olive Tree” and “Live And Let Live”, where the stage takes on the colors of the LGBT rainbow flag.

Manu Katché receives a standing ovation

Peter Gabriel presents his eight musicians on several occasions, emphasizing his three oldest companions, Tony Levin, therefore, guitarist David Rhodes and “the incredible drummer Manu Katché”… Needless to say that the latter, hat on his head and a smile slung over his shoulder, received the most ovation of all. This world-renowned French drummer, emblematic juror of “Nouvelle Star” from 2004 to 2007, has been playing with the Briton since his legendary album “So”, released in 1986. “We have worked hard to create an atypical live experience for you, reports the master of ceremonies. And two other Parisians took part, the marvelous Annette Messager for the images of Playing For Time and Barthelemy Togo for olive tree. “His jellyfish stunned us…

After a good half hour, the concert really takes off with “Digging In The Dirt”, a new extract from the particularly powerful “Us” album. Gabriel, more vocal than during his last visit to Paris, pushes her and triggers thunderous applause. “Here’s a little song,” he announces. The arrival of “Sledgehammer”, one of the clics from the album “So”, is the first great moment of communion.

Manu Katché has been playing with Peter Gabriel since 1986.
Manu Katché has been playing with Peter Gabriel since 1986. LP/Olivier Lejeune

“All you do is call me / I’ll be anything you need”, we shout in chorus. The stands finally rise, Gabriel, Levin and Rhodes have fun with a little choreography, the arms go up. And then after 1h15 of concert, Gabriel launches a “see you soon” which worries part of the public… which is obviously not aware that the show takes place in two parts.

“We are very happy to still be here in Paris. Thank you so much “

After twenty minutes of intermission, the group comes back strong with the moving “Love Can Heal” and a new staging, with a filter screen that bars the front of the stage and allows to create beautiful visual effects. Pionate about new technologies, Gabriel has always presented ultra-modern shows. This one isn’t the most spectacular or avant-garde, but it stays on point with games of lights and video screens, including a giant circle that moves above the musicians.

Leaving his pianos and synthesizers, Peter Gabriel sings in Chinese shadows then plays Harry Potter by creating live paintings with a magic wand. On the magnificent ballad “Don’t Give Up”, the large screens which broadcast the videos in the background move and reveal a catwalk where Peter Gabriel and his cellist, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, meet the vocal parts of Kate Bush on the duet. Obviously, she does not replace her but she does very well and is very applauded.

The second part of the show is stronger than the first with its cascade of clics, “Red Rain”, “Big Time”, “In Your Yes” as the first encore, the other singles from the album “So”. The first is poignant, the second hard-hitting, the third delicate. There is also the magnificent “Solsbury Hill”. While singing his first solo hit, taken from his first album in 1977, the singer, decidedly in great shape, runs on stage as if he were hurtling down the hill of Solsbury as a child and, curiously, holds his microphone like a pen. Everyone is on their feet and sings these melodies that have accompanied them for several decades and do not age. “We are very happy to still be here in Paris. Thank you a thousand times, ”launches the living legend in French after a new presentation of his team and his first reminder.

“Biko” to conclude

We hear “Peter, I love you” in the first rows of the seated floor. The Accor Arena lights up with the white lights of hundreds of smartphones. The musicians return. Obviously… They couldn’t conclude the 2h40 concert without playing “Biko”, the essential anti-apartheid anthem written and composed in 1980 in tribute to Steve Biko, a black South African activist murdered in police custody in 1977.

For the first time of the evening, Gabriel sings in the center, behind his microphone, upright and solemn. The musicians, the fans, take up the chorus in chorus, arms raised, fists outstretched. The huge portrait of Steve Biko appears in the giant glowing circle, which returns to the middle of the stage. Thrills guaranteed… Peter Gabriel disappears, reminding the audience: “As always, the end is with you”. All that remains in the Accor Arena is Manu Katché, who hammers the last “Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko”, and the singing crowd. Last great emotion of a great concert.



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