“Back To Front At The Cinema Show” - The Peter Gabriel Back To Front Movie reviewed by Alan Hewitt. Photographs by Ted Sayers.
Genesis and their associates have had a long association with film and video over the years and have released numerous concert films to the delight of their fans. Genesis broadcast one of their gigs from Dusseldorf via satellite in the UK as a sop for the meagre two gigs which the UK received on the 2007 tour and the Come Rain Or Shine film was also screened at cinemas in the UK and elsewhere.
The Back To Front movie is Peter’s first foray into cinematic broadcasts but his decision to do this should come as no surprise to his fans, as he has been such an active promoter of the visual arts over the years that this is very much another step in his evolution as a visual artist as well as enabling fans such as myself who sadly missed last year’s shows to catch up on what we missed.
The film gets under way with the rather sombre O But, another example of Peter road testing new material to gauge audience response. This one might eventually become a great PG track, but as a set/film opener it falls rather flat, sadly. The film has evidently been edited for purposes of screening and so we next have a delicious version of Shock The Monkey, always a delight and great to see here.
We then move rapidly along to a truly remarkable No Self Control which brought back a lot of memories for me. Here the mobile lighting gantries came into their own for the first time, like Martian war machines and coupled with the always tasteful lighting effect, they added another dimension of drama to such a tense song. Light relief next with Solsbury Hill and here we got some very clever interplaying of archival footage from previous tours/films/DVDs showing as much of the evolution of Peter’s stage show as it did the evolution of the song itself.
Why Don’t You Show Yourself is the show’s other new song, and it
was here that the between songs interview extracts came into their own as Peter
explained the ideas behind this one. A very effective song which should do well
on a PG album - whenever that may be?!
Then we get to the main reason for these shows: the So material and if, like me, you were at any of the 1986/87 shows, you will know exactly how superb these songs are in the live context. Red Rain gets going with a stunning backdrop of red lights and the gantries give the drama of the song extra depth too. Don’t Give Up has lost none of its emotional resonance and is every bit as relevant in today’s recession hit world as it was back in 1986. Mercy Street too, just gets better with age and Milgram’s 37 too is a dense and bleak effort a little out of place here but incredibly effective.
In Your Eyes is the celebration that it always was with a band as good as this one, you can’t help but smile. The performance was absolutely bang on the money here. The film closes with the encores beginning with The Tower That Ate People from the Ovo album. I admit that the Ovo project sort of passed me by but there is no denying the sheer power and drama of the performance and I couldn’t help but smile as Peter mentioned both Genesis and the “Spinal Tap” movie during his interview extract.
Sadly, the song which closes the show is every bit as relevant today as when it was written back in 1979. Biko is simply the most upsetting and yet uplifting anthem that you are ever likely to hear. Its message has lost none of its resonance and Peter and the band have lost none of their evident relish in its performance.
And that was that. Fans expecting the full show might be disappointed by this
truncated version but I for one thoroughly enjoyed it and at least I know what
all the excitement was all about now! I am sure that by the time this project
eventually reaches DVD/Blu Ray release, the missing elements will have been
restored adding even more for fans to relish. One thing is for sure and certain
- the man is DEFINITELY back!