Review: Musical Genius Peter Gabriel Brought His Artistry to Austin

Moody Center, Austin, Texas

Music legend and double Rock Hall of Famer, Peter Gabriel brought his artistic and stunning i/o tour to Austin’s Moody Center in support of his new album of the same name. It’s his first tour in 7 years. He gradually released new songs with each full moon earlier in the year. The 23-song show included 2 full sets and 2 encore songs and was almost 3 hours long.

The production was stunning, and mesmerizing, and we knew it would be an interesting show when the entire stage crew came out in bright orange jumpsuits. The show was artistic and thought provoking and unlike any other show we’ve seen. That’s the point. Gabriel has always been a trailblazer, following his own vision of what music and performances should be. The art in the show was a main highlight with Gabriel as an artist painting with a wand on a transparent canvas in the second set. Plus a huge clock that showed a crew dude turning the hands back in time. Other times his live-looking face was on a giant screen then suddenly his head disintegrated; reminded us of those great classic MTV videos. He gives much credit to the artists he worked with on the album including: Ai Weiwei, Nick Cave, David Spriggs, and many others.

The master storyteller and lyricist conveys messages that we all needed to hear today. Themes included artificial intelligence, climate change, protest, and unity. Even though the topics are serious, Gabriel has the crowd laughing with jokes like “Growing up on a farm, AI stood for Artificial Insemination, not what it stands for today”.

The songs always have a unique blend of cultures and African vibes. This show was no different. An amazing 8-piece band of multi-instrumentalists, some who have been with him over 40 years (David Rhodes, Tony Levin, Manu Katche) and beautiful female string section with cello (Ayanna Witter-Johnson) and violin (Marina Moore). The meld of percussion, guitars, strings, keys, and trumpet were innovative and beautiful. All had incredible vocal ranges. Gabriel himself still hits all the notes, including the highs, and jumps over to his keyboard in many songs.

Although in a large venue, Gabriel created an intimate, personal vibe from the get go. He and his iconic guitarist, Tony Levin sitting around a campfire, with massive moon shot in the background over the stage. The remaining bandmates joined as they kicked off with new stuff, ‘Washing of the Water’ a cool acoustic version. Next was ‘Growing Up’ which he says is ‘serious business’, another chill, spacey, ethereal song with a unique sound with the combination of instruments in such close proximity.

Gabriel pulled in not only innovative songs from his new album (mostly in the first set), but also some of his biggest hits from his huge catalog. People went nuts for ‘Big Time’, ‘Red Rain’, ‘In Your Eyes’, ‘Solsbury Hill’, and ‘Sledgehammer’. We loved the newer versions and variations, especially on ‘Red Rain’.

One of the biggest highlights was when Ayanna came up front to join Gabriel on ‘Don’t Give Up’ which had us teary with the intense beauty of her voice (with Kate Bush shoes to fill- which she did), and an audience chant of the lyrics. Lyrics that are so meaningful today on so many fronts including mental health.

Never tiring, Gabriel often marched or skipped across the stage still looking youthful at 73. Although we didn’t hear any Genesis songs, the night felt meaningful, inspiring, and complete without them.

Check out all our concert photos from this show at Austin 101 Magazine.

Set list:

Set 1:

Xylem (John Metcalfe song from tape)
Washing of the Water (Acoustic campfire version,… more )
Growing Up (Acoustic campfire version)
Four Kinds of Horses
Digging in the Dirt
Playing for Time
Olive Tree
This Is Home

Set 2:
Dusk (John Metcalfe song)
Love Can Heal
Road to Joy
Don’t Give Up
The Court
Red Rain
So Much
What Lies Ahead
Big Time
Live and Let Live
Solsbury Hill
In Your Eyes

Categories: Featured Posts