[pullquote quote="One thing that really appeals to me is this idea of music being a living thing that has an evolution." credit="Peter Gabriel"]We’ve often said there’s nothing better than live music, but when a performer decides to beef up their back catalog with orchestral elements, they run the risk of taking themselves way too seriously. Example: Symphony & [lastfm]Metallica[/lastfm].
Tonight [lastfm]Peter Gabriel[/lastfm] pulled off a tasteful transformation with his New Blood Orchestra. Two words — added emotion.
Listeners nationwide were were treated to brand-new orchestral reinventions of classic tracks and lesser-known gems spanning the GRAMMY winner’s solo career in this Live on Letterman webcast. It’s not every day you get to see a 46-piece orchestra take the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater — let alone, an orchestra fronted by a progressive rock pioneer.
If you missed tonight’s spectacle, it’s available on-demand right here, so continue on and embrace Gabriel on a deeper level.
Watch Peter Gabriel perform Live on Letterman with the New Blood Orchestra:
Tonight the New New Blood Orchestra added a richness and emotion to these blockbuster hits, taking them to an entirely new place while Gabriel’s smokey voice hovered above.
Gabriel performed his remodeled tracks for nearly an hour, kicking off with “Red Rain” set against a dramatic backdrop at the Ed Sullivan Theater. He spoke briefly (thanks for the shout-out to us bloggers, by the way) and stuck to what he does best — delivering the goods.
Peter Gabriel At United CenterGabriel has not just pasted an orchestra over top of his more popular songs — swapping guitars, electric bass, drums and keyboard for orchestral power and beauty. The 61-year-old is reshaping familiar tunes to match his maturity.
“Intruder” was full of menace, the orchestra adding to the slow, building tension.
Introducing “Signal to Noise,” he talked about ‘connecting the dots’ during the recent Arab Spring uprisings, which gave the song’s slow, haunting arrangement all the more immediacy and power (“turn up the signal/wipe out the noise”).
And “Rhythm of the Heat,” a song Gabriel introduced as being about Carl Jung in Ethiopia, stepped out of its ’80s-era shell and into a new dimension–it was a complete and beautiful transformation.
With the New Blood Orchestra, Gabriel has indeed injected ‘new blood’ into the far reaches of his back catalog — as far back as “Solsbury Hill” from his first solo album. Coming near the end of the set, it was still a lively, catchy song, even with orchestra backing.
For an encore, he brought the house down with “Biko,” his tribute to the late South African activist. Or rather, he brought the house up–to their feet, fists in the air. “This is for all the people who have the courage to stand up for themselves, whatever the cost,” he said.
Gabriel may have been playing well-known songs from decades past, yet this concert was anything but a nostalgia trip. With these dramatic rearrangements, the melodies we all know and love live on, and at the same time, his music–and, you could say, popular music as a whole–takes a big step forward.
Signal To Noise
Rhythm of the Heat