“Steaming up at the point” - Peter Gabriel live at The Point Theatre, Dublin on Friday 28th May 1993. Reviewed by Brian and Joe McGrath. Photos by Pauline Thorpe. Memorabilia: TWR archive.
When we read in the music paper. Hot Press, that Peter Gabriel was coming to Dublin, we were really looking forward to it. We were disappointed that Peter didn’t play in Ireland on his So tour in 1986/87. This was Peter’s first EVER solo gig in Ireland and his first gig here since Genesis played the national Stadium back in 1972 - twenty one years ago!
When we arrived at The Point, the queue was already forming but it wasn’t long before we were allowed inside. They have installed more seats at The Point now, so it holds about 9000 people. From what we had read in the papers, Peter had created something really special on his “Secret World” tour and soon we would see exactly what the reports had meant.
We had two seats up in the balcony and we had brought along a pair of binoculars so we could get a better view. Peter came onstage to introduce the support act and he got a great response from the crowd.
The show proper began at 9.30 and the set opened with Come Talk To Me, a duet with Sinead O’Connor. Gabriel’s entrance was stunning and loaded with metaphor, dressed in white he struggled out of a red telephone box with his mic lead connected to the receive only to be dragged backwards along an escalator just as he was within touching distance of Sinead.
Geysers of steam shot up from the length of the stage as he moved into an excellent version of Steam. It had streamlined sexiness and some nice industrial scrapes and grinds from David Rhodes on guitar thrown in. On his own, dressed in a white suit, Gabriel made his way down the platform connecting the two stages and at the front of the lower stage executed a series of self-conscious pelvic thrusts towards the audience. The sped up footage of trains and tracks on the giant video screen was another reference to Gabriel’s obsession with time and motion. On Games Without Frontiers, the song about war and nationalism, Peter marched military-style from one stage to the other. It was one of our favourite Gabriel tracks.
Across The River was next, an instrumental that Peter co-wrote with Stewart Copeland and Shankar who played violin during the show. At the start, Peter was trying to do a voice over on one of his keyboards but it went wrong. As he waited for the engineers to sort it out, he said; “I’ve made a career out of f**k ups and tonight is one of them!” he also said, “the last time I played this fair city I was wearing a fox’s head and a red dress” which got a great response from the crowd. During the song, Peter and the band moved along the escalator and on to the round stage for the next track which was Shaking The Tree. A surprise is in store because a tree emerges from beneath the stage and the band start dancing around it. Peter sits down and plays drums for the first few moments of the piece and then Manu Katche takes over, joining Peter on backing vocals and keyboards throughout the show was Joy Askew.
It was a concert at which you could never be sure what was going to happen next or where it was going to happen! Sinead appeared on stage again with her back to the audience to sing with Peter on a great version of Blood Of Eden.
San Jacinto was next, and during the song, Peter knelt on a low cart which was slowly dragged towards the image of a full moon being shown on the video screen. At the end of the song, Gabriel is projected on the screen in a foetal position. His figure then rises and falls in the process of growth before the full figure takes off into glorious flight.
Peter appeared on stage again dressed in black but this time lying on a bed. Alongside him was a small T V set. The song was the unreleased Love Town. On the screen there were images of city skylines, hotels etc, and it was a great song. The stage then lit up like the mother ship from Close Encounters before Gabriel arrived to deliver energetic versions of Shock The Monkey, Solsbury Hill and Sledgehammer which had everyone out of their seats really enjoying themselves.
Peter teamed up again with Shankar to do a great version of Washing Of The Water and with Digging In The Dirt, he emerged from a trapdoor during the intro wearing a specially designed video camera which he manipulated to present the audience with close ups of his nose, eyes and mouth. Throughout the song he was ably accompanied by Tony Levin on bass. One of our favourites from the US album ended the show proper, Secret World for which Peter returned to the piano and during the song a line of suitcases was passed along the conveyor belt, but there was something special about the last one; the band were neatly packed away into it at the end of the song and Gabriel made a spectacular exit beneath a descending blue dome representing the earth. The group left the stage to thunderous applause from the crowd and everyone looked forward to the encores, especially Biko.
The sound, lights and Peter’s voice were in fine form and every band member gave excellent performances as well. Throughout the show, Gabriel and the band used an array of props to enhance their presentation - at no time did theatre replace musicianship. The dome was raised and the encores began with In Your Eyes where Sinead O’Connor joined Peter in a beautiful version. There were many highlights to the show, but we would say that Biko was the best of them all, with the crowd chanting the final refrain.
Peter returned to the stage and introduced us to the members of the band, Sinead O’Connor, his two daughters and his parents. He said; “this is the first time we have ever had three generations of Gabriels on stage at the same time”. The show was excellent value for money and although we were disappointed that he didn’t perform personal favourites like Red Rain and Lay Your Hands On Me, it was still a great show and we hope it’s not too long before he comes to Ireland again.