Peter Gabriel will kick off his Growing Up Live Tour on November 5th in Atlanta and the singer gave fans a taste of what to expect from the live show at his press conference announcing the tour, in support of Up, on September 25th in New York.
On a bare stage at Manhattan's Supper Club, Gabriel was accompanied by longtime band members Tony Levin (bass), David Rhodes (guitar) and several newcomers, Richard Evans (guitar, mandolin and flute) Rachel Z (keyboards) Ged Lynch (drums) and daughter Melanie Gabriel (backing vocals) for a forty-five minute set that five new songs from Up ("Darkness," "Growing Up," "No Way Out," "My Head Sounds Like That" and "More Than This") and two classics So's "Sledgehammer" and "Mercy Street."
Not the type of artist to rest on past success, Gabriel clearly intends to focus the tour on new material, though he realizes some fans may resist. "It's the same thing for every musician," he says. "In the first six to eight weeks [of the tour], people are starting to get to know [the new songs]. After that period, you hope people will be more familiar with the music, that you'll get less hostile reactions," he joked.
Many of the world music elements from Gabriel's past incarnations will be absent, as his touring ensemble is much more a rock band, heavily reliant on pre-recorded sounds to reconstruct the dense, electronica-tinged music of Up.
Still, some songs from Up are proving difficult to take on the road. "Signal to Noise" features a stunning wordless vocal from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but the great Pakistani singer died five years ago. "We may put something of him on video," Gabriel said. And "Sky Blue" relies on a soaring ensemble vocal from the Blind Boys of Alabama, who are not available for this tour. Again, Gabriel suggested, video may provide a virtual solution. Or the songs simply may not make the set list.
The tour is also proving to be a family affair, with daughter Melanie in the band. "We come from the 'nepotism works' stable," he said Gabriel's other daughter, Anna, is traveling with the band to shoot a documentary on the tour. "It's fantastic to have my family involved, a real pleasure."
The tour runs through December 15th in San Jose, California, and reunites Gabriel with theater director and designer Robert Le Page, who helped create the look of Secret World Live, Gabriel's 1993 tour. "He's one of the most gifted people around," Gabriel. "His theater stuff is wonderfully witty and elegant, great to look at."
On stage, Gabriel will play in the round, and feature a center stage with multiple levels. "We've switched ninety degrees," he explained. "There will be an 'up' stage and a 'down' stage, and we hope to play with that."
Tickets will initially be available through Gabriel's Web site to club members, and will soon go on sale through Ticketmaster.
Peter Gabriel tour dates:
11/5: Atlanta, Philips Arena
11/7: Cleveland, Gund Arena
11/8: Columbus, OH Nationwide Arena
11/11: Washington, DC MCI Center
11/13: Chicago, United Center
11/15: Minneapolis, Target Center
11/17: East Rutherford, NJ Continental Airlines Arena
11/18: Philadelphia, First Union Center
11/21: New York, Madison Square Garden
11/25: Boston, FleetCenter
11/26: Uncasville, CT, Mohegan Casino
11/28: Montreal, QC, Bell Center
12/2: Toronto, ON, Air Canada Center
12/3: Auburn Hills, MI, Palace of Auburn Hills
12/5: Denver, Pepsi Center
12/8: San Diego, CA San Diego Sports Arena
12/11: Los Angeles, Staples Center
12/12: Phoenix, America West Arena
12/14: Oakland, CA, Oakland Arena
12/15: San Jose, CA, HP Pavilion at San Jose