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Peter Gabriel shows no sign of Growing Up during final night of world tour


Review: Jack Foley

AFTER two years of intensive touring, Peter Gabriel brought his Growing Up tour to a suitably rousing finale at Wembley Arena on Tuesday, June 8 (2004), bowing out of the limelight in some considerable style.

Having caught the spectacular show the last time it was in town (in May last year), I wasted no time in getting a ticket again - such was the jaw-dropping quality of what I had witnessed first time around.

Directed by Robert Lepage, the Growing Up tour features one of the finest stages in recent memory - a huge, rotational circle of tricks, which sits comfortably in the middle of the Arena’s vast space, affording excellent views from wherever you sit.

And while the element of surprise had been removed, and the set remained largely the same, the new tracks continued to draw gasps of admiration, while a tingle of excitement greeted the prospect of seeing the performer walking upside down above the stage (Downside Up), or cycling around its perimeter, during Solisbury Hill.

Gabriel began proceedings by pondering, whimsically, that ‘a wise man would know when to quit’, but as far as his fans were concerned, he could have continued well into the early hours.

Prior to the Growing Up spectacle, it had been ten years since they were able to indulge in his theatrics, and now that it was coming to an end, one wonders how long it will be before the artist next performs in the capital. Hopefully, not long.

New song, White Ash, a haunting, slow-building epic that eschewed all the song-writing brilliance we have come to expect from Gabriel, offered hope for the future, while the numerous tracks from most recent album, Up, provided a perfect reminder of how good an album that was.

His voice, as ever, was in majestic form, and only occasionally showed the wear and tear of the tour’s demands.

Of course, it was the classics that brought back the fondest memories, and one in particular, Games Without Frontiers, that yielded the night’s biggest highlights (having been missed off the set-list the last time I caught him).

The song, almost inevitably, began with images of bombers being projected on the mini-screens above the stage, before Gabriel and his daughter emerged from the centre on a pair of two-wheeled, electronic scooters, zipping about the stage like clockwork soldiers, and pausing only to spin and salute each other during the spine-tingling chorus.

Elsewhere, the crowd-pleasing Sledgehammer brought Wembley to its feet, while the all-singing, all-dancing, In Your Eyes, brought proceedings to a typically feel-good finale, as Gabriel was, once again, joined on-stage by his support acts, and ‘orange men’ - the technicians who help to make the show possible.

It is a testament to Gabriel’s continuing love affair with his music and creativity, that someone referred to as one of the music industry’s veterans can still seem so lively. The tour may be called Growing Up, but, as the artist himself noted, he is still showing no sign of it. Long may that continue…

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