“Book of Memories” – Peter Gabriel in concert at the Piazza San Marco Venice on 6th July 2007. Review by Alan Hewitt.

Isn’t it typical? Like buses, you wait for ages and then they all come along at once! It was extremely irritating to have to decide between Genesis and Peter’s gigs. However, having already made our arrangements for the Genesis tour, I knew I would have to settle for watching one of the gigs afterwards on DVD via the usual resourceful bootlegger source!

Fortunately, the gig in Venice was recorded in excellent sound and vision and so I am able to report on what I missed! And what a set Peter played! The title of this review is quite apt – some of the material in the set here I have not heard Peter play for over TWENTY years!

Opening the show with The Rhythm Of The Heat was simply stunning. Peter simply walked to the piano and started the song – no fuss, no frills, just an awesome performance. He followed this with rapid fire performances of classics On The Air and On The Air. All of which sent shivers through the spine, especially Intruder which hasn’t lost any of it’s air of menace. On The Air was as up-beat as ever with great performances from Tony Levin and Ged Lynch who looked as if he intended to physically beat his drum kit to death on stage!

A quick trip to the early 90’s next with Steam and Blood Of Eden. The former is still one of the sexiest songs Peter has ever written – up-beat, funky and RUDE! Tony Levin’s playing here really takes the song to another dimension and once again, Mr Lynch battered Hell out of his kit while David Rhodes’ rhythm guitar was the glue that held it all together.

Father And Son saw the live debut of Angie Pollock on Keyboards and the song itself was a delightful moment of calm after so much drama and excitement. The respite was brief however, as No Self Control soon whipped the audience into a frenzy again while Solsbury Hill turned the gig into a party.

Sadly an excellent Mother Of Violence was savagely edited (why is it that Italian shows ALWAYS seem to suffer from edits of one form or another?!). Family Snapshot was another excellent performance. Peter’s anguished vocal capturing the essence of the central character’s tortured soul while the entire band blasted out an awesome musical soundtrack to the story as it unfolded on stage.

I was surprised to see Lay Your Hands On Me in the set. This was long a highlight of Peter’s stage set – especially the “dive” into the audience which Peter thankfully didn’t do tonight (you are a little too portly for that these days, eh Peter?).

Big Time and Signal To Noise juxtaposed the commercial and thought provoking elements of Peter’s music and Secret World was as excellent as usual. Finishing the show with an up-beat and funky version of Sledgehammer where Peter conducted the audience participation like the true showman he is was a suitable ending to the show, but of course, there is the small matter of encores to be dealt with.

Returning to the stage to the syncopated rhythms of In Your Eyes, the entire band delivered a truly wonderful rendering of this classic song before the show closed with a surprise rendition of Biko which, although it has served it’s political purpose, is nonetheless a vital and essential element of Peter’s repertoire. Once again, the rhythm section carries the song which sadly on this DVD suffered from another infuriating edit bringing the disc to a sudden end.

Based on this performance, Peter has certainly lost none of his magic as a performer and watching it on a DVD can still summon up emotions in me – then it must have been even more stunning to have actually been at the gig itself. Bravo, Peter!